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Kiakombua v. Wolf: Protecting the credible fear process for seeking asylum

This case challenged the April 2019 and September 2019 changes to the Credible Fear Interview Lesson Plan, the U.S. government’s manual for conducting a screening interview to assess whether an asylum seeker should be allowed to pursue their asylum claim in immigration court. 

Our clients

In this lawsuit IRAP represented five asylum seekers who were denied the opportunity to pursue their asylum claim in immigration court because of the unlawful changes to the Credible Fear Interview Lesson Plan. 

Our clients hoped for a fair opportunity to prove that they had the right to asylum in the United States because they faced persecution in their home countries. 


By succeeding in their challenge to the April 2019 and September 2019 Credible Fear Interview Lesson Plans, our clients made sure that the tens of thousands of asylum seekers who undergo the credible fear interview process each year will have access to a fairer process to ensure that their good-faith asylum claims are heard.

Case status

The case was settled after we won a decision vacating the April and September 2019 lesson plans.

  • June 28, 2020: Complaint is filed challenging the April 2019 Lesson Plan.
  • September 19, 2020: USCIS announces a revised Credible Fear Interview Lesson Plan, which builds on the April 2019 Lesson Plan. Complaint is supplemented to add a challenge to the September 2019 Lesson Plan.
  • October 31, 2020: Victory! The court issues a summary judgment decision finding six policies in the Lesson Plans to be unlawful and vacating the April 2019 and September 2019 versions of the Credible Fear Lesson Plan. The court also orders the government to bring back two previously deported clients at government expense and to give them new credible fear interviews under lawful policies.
  • July 2021: The government dismisses its appeal of the case, cementing the summary judgment victory for our clients.
  • November 27, 2023: The court orders payment of attorneys’ fees to Plaintiffs’ counsel and the vacatur of one plaintiff’s expedited removal order should she not avail herself of the injunction’s procedures for the government to bring her back to the United States.

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) was our co-counsel, and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), Center for Gender and Refugee Studies (CGRS), and American Gateways were consulting counsel. 

Follow the Case

  • Press Release: Judge Declares Unlawful and Vacates Government’s Asylum Seeker “Credible Fear” Standards

    View Press Release +
  • IRAP & RAICES File Challenge to Trump Administration’s Latest Attack on Asylum Seekers

    View Press Release +