USCIS Revises Procedures for Credible Fear Screening and Consideration by Asylum Officers of Claims for Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and CAT Protection

Effective May 31, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Justice (DOJ) will implement an interim final rule titled “Procedures for Credible Fear Screening and Consideration of Asylum, Withholding of Removal, and CAT Protection Claims by Asylum Officers” (sometimes referred to as the “Asylum Officer Rule”). This rule revises the procedures applicable to certain applications for asylum, statutory withholding of removal, and protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT).

This rule will only apply to adults and families placed into expedited removal proceedings after May 31, 2022; it will not apply to unaccompanied children, who are statutorily exempt from being placed into expedited removal proceedings. The rule will be implemented in phases, starting with a limited number of asylum seekers, then expanding as U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) gains resources and builds capacity.

The rule is a key step toward implementing the Administration’s “Blueprint for a Fair, Orderly, and Humane Immigration System.” It is intended to improve the ability of the U.S. asylum system to fairly and efficiently handle protection claims made by individuals who are subject to expedited removal and to reduce the growth of the backlog of asylum cases in immigration courts.

Highlights of the rule

• Allows USCIS asylum officers to adjudicate asylum applications of individuals who receive a positive credible fear determination after they are placed into expedited removal proceedings;

• Places individuals who are not granted asylum by USCIS into streamlined proceedings under section 240 of the INA before an immigration judge for consideration of their asylum, statutory withholding of removal, and CAT protection claims;

• Returns regulations governing the credible fear screening process to apply the longstanding “significant possibility” standard in screenings for statutory withholding of removal and CAT protection claims; and

• With limited exceptions, returns to longstanding regulations to screen for eligibility for asylum and statutory withholding of removal without applying bars to asylum and withholding of removal in the credible fear screening process.

Additional Information

For more information, see Asylum Merits Interview with USCIS: Processing After a Positive Credible Fear Determination page. For information on expedited removal and credible fear screenings, visit the Credible Fear Screenings and Questions and Answers: Credible Fear Screening pages. For information on ways to obtain asylum, see the Obtaining Asylum in the United States page.

USCIS is committed to providing accurate and timely information to the public.