Every single day many people attempt to cross the U.S. border because they are fleeing persecution in their home country. Their goal is simple: to seek refuge in the United States where they will not be harmed because of their race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group.
Many of them are apprehended at the border. They are caught and returned to their country under procedures known as expedited removal. To avoid this quick return, foreign nationals must clearly state to the Immigration Officer that they fear returning to their home country. An asylum officer will then conduct a credible fear interview.
Credible Fear Interview: During this interview, the foreigner will be asked a series of questions, such as:
If the asylum officer determines that the foreigner does have a credible fear, then her case will be referred to court. Often, during this process the foreigner will be held at a detention center.
Bond Hearing: At the bond hearing, the Immigration Judge looks at the documents presented to determine whether the foreigner is a flight risk, has ties to the community, and has a basis for gaining status in the United States. At this stage, the foreigner may not have all the evidence needed to win her asylum case. Yet, the asylum application should be presented, together with any evidence available about why there is a fear of returning. One of the best ways to obtain release from detention is by proving that the foreigner has a viable claim to asylum or other form of relief.
Asylum: When the foreigner is released from custody, the case will be transferred to the Immigration Court where the applicant lives. The future hearings will no longer be at the detention center after bond has been posted. Eventually, an Individual hearing date will be set where the foreigner will be questioned on all the DETAILS of the claim. If the case is approved, the foreigner can apply for lawful permanent residency one year after asylum is granted.
Being apprehended at the border can be terrifying. However, if you have a valid claim to asylum, detention is the first step to a green card. Although the author is a Board-certified immigration expert, this guide is intended as general information and not specific legal advice. This communication does not create an attorney-client relationship. Schedule a consultation with an attorney to address individual concerns.