Telephonic Interviews in Negative Credible Fear Determinations

Under current credible fear procedures, Asylum Office Directors are authorized to exercise their discretion to choose the mode of interview 0 in person, telephonic, or VTEL -after considering a number of factors. If the telephonic mode is chosen, however, current procedures require the APSO to terminate the telephonic interview and conduct an interview in person or by VTEL if there is any indication that the alien does not understand the process, or if the APSO finds that the laien does not ahve credible fear of persecution or torture. This procedure typically requires rescheduling the interview and therefore delays case processing times.

In order to address the recent surge in credible fear referrals, which have nearly tripled over the last three years, and support current Department of Homeland Security efforts to relieve pressure on the detention system, the Asylum Division has been implementing measures to gain efficiencies in the credible fear process. To this end, over the last year, Asylum Offices have been expanding the use of telephonic interviewing so that they can reach more credible fear applicants more quickly while also minimizing travel costs. To maximize the efficiency of telephonic interviewing, the Asylum division is suspending the procedural requirement for APSOs to switch from the telephonic mode to an in-person or VTEL mode if they do not find credible fear or persecution or torture.

Effective immediately, where credible fear interviews are initiated over the telephone, APSOs should complete their interviews over the phone, including those that may lead to a negative determination. In such instances, APSOs should no longer terminate the telephonic interview in order to schedule a live or VTEL follow-up interview.

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