our interview could make or break your application for asylum in the US
. Your ability to tell your story in detail, and to answer questions in a manner that is consistent with the written materials you provided as well as outside sources of information, is critical to your changes of success. Your demeanor at the interview will also impact the credibility that the immigration officer attaches to your application.
Of course, there are countless potential questions you might be asked. Following are some common questions that you should be ready for:
- “Who harmed you (or put you in fear of harm)? Was the government involved? If not, did they do anything to try to stop it?
- “How did they harm you?” Remember that “merely psychological” harm can also count as real harm, and therefore persecution.
- “Why did they harm you?” Be as specific as possible concerning the motivation behind the persecution you suffered. Be ready to explain how you know what these motivations were, beyond mere supposition.
It is important that the motivation behind the persecution you suffered was closely related to your race, religion, nationalist, political views or membership in some social group. Remember that the “group” doesn’t have to be a formal organization — your gender or your sexual orientation might qualify as a “group”, for example.
- “Can you live safely somewhere else in the country, even if a move would be inconvenient?” Even if you are being threatened BY drug gangs in northern Mexico, for example, you might not qualify for asylum if you could live safely in southern Mexico.
- “Have you ever applied for asylum in the US before?” Remember that if you filed a previous asylum application in the US and it was dismissed as fraudulent or frivolous, you might be barred from future US immigration benefits, including asylum.
- “Do you have legal immigration status in any third country?”
- “Do you fear returning to your home country? If so, what is the basis of your fear?” The more objective the basis of your fear (“According to this news article, half my congregation has already been imprisoned for their beliefs.”), the better your chances for asylum will be.
- “How many times have you been to the US?”
- “When was your most recent entry into the US?” If you entered illegally, “Can you prove the exact date of your most recent entry?” These questions are designed to determine whether you complied with the rule that gives you only one year from the date of your last entry to the US to apply for asylum. It could be difficult to prove your date of entry if you entered illegally.
- “Have you ever committed a crime, either in the US or elsewhere?” Remember that a minor crime won’t necessarily doom your asylum application.
- “Did you report your persecution to the police in your home country? If no, why not?”
- “Do you have family in the US? Do you have any family in your home country? Has anyone in your family ever applied for asylum before?”
- “What are the names of your children?”
- Did you return to your home country after suffering persecution there? If so, why?”
- “Do you have any additional evidence to show me today?” This question refers to evidence that you have not already submitted with your application.
- “Do you have anything else you would like to say to me?” Take this opportunity to correct any mistakes or misperceptions regarding your application.
It is virtually impossible to answer every single question that you might be asked. One thing to remember is to listen carefully to the question and to answer the question that was actually asked, not the question that you expected the officer to ask.
How Can I Prepare For An Asylum Interview In the U.S.?
When you receive your notification, carefully read it to ensure you know the date, time, location, and rules for the asylum interview. Also, bring all documents noted in the application. Arrive early and dress appropriately.
Getting an Interpreter
If English is not your native tongue, you are not fluent in English, or you are deaf or hard of hearing, you must bring an interpreter to help you communicate during your interview. This is extremely important as the interpreter plays an important role in the asylum questions and answers. Misinterpreting words can cause your case to be rejected or referred to an immigration court. Therefore, getting an interpreter before going for the interview is needed.
The interpreter must meet the following requirements:
- Be at least 18 years old
- Be fluent in English and the language you speak
- Have a legalized immigration status.
It is important to note that your interpreter cannot be:
- Your legal counsel/attorney or representative of record
- An official or employee of your country
- Your family members.
Suppose your interpreter needs to be more competent to interpret well during your interview, or you went to the interview without an interpreter and cannot speak English. In that case, your interview can be canceled or rescheduled. This will be considered a delay by you.
Bringing a Qualitative Representative to Your Interview
Bringing an attorney or a legal representative to your interview is one of the best ways to prepare for the interview. They will help you prepare for the interview, what to expect, and questions that might be asked.
Also, the attorney ensures that your interview is performed appropriately and that any potential legal questions that may arise are clarified.
The presence of an attorney during your interview reduces the likelihood of your application being rejected and referred to an immigration court for removal proceedings.
Preparing for an Affirmative Asylum Interview
Preparing for your affirmative asylum interview is key to answering your asylum questions.
What Are Important Things to Note About the Affirmative Asylum Interview?
On the day of your interview, expect the interview to last at least an hour or more, depending on your case. You should also expect to verify your documents, check in, and swear an oath to promise to be truthful during the interview. Your interpreter will also swear an oath to be truthful and provide accurate interpretations.
Also, to confirm your identity, you expect to answer basic biographical questions, why you are requesting asylum, and any legal restrictions preventing you from requesting or receiving asylum.
Remote Participation by Your Attorney or Accredited Representative at Your Asylum Interview
If your attorney or representative of the record cannot physically join you for your asylum interview, they can remotely participate. For this, they must receive consent to participate remotely. Your attorney is to complete the REMOTE ATTORNEY OR REPRESENTATIVE PARTICIPATION election form and submit it to the local asylum office ten days before your interview.
What Happens If Your Attorney or Representative Is Unavailable for the Affirmative Asylum Interview?
If you file a G-28, it does not prevent the processing of your application, even if your attorney is not present. Suppose the asylum office refuses your request to reschedule, and your attorney is not available to join you for the interview. In that case, you can sign a waiver and choose to continue the interview without the presence of your attorney, or you can accept the referral to the immigration court.
Failure to Appear for Your Affirmative Asylum Interview
Without legal status in the U.S. and the asylum interview office of USCIS does not receive an explanation from you within 45 days of the scheduled interview date in the form of a written note stating the reason for your absence, your case will be referred to the immigration court.
Can You Reschedule Your Affirmative Asylum Interview?
Yes, you can. Suppose there is a need for you to reschedule your affirmative asylum interview. In that case, you must send a letter to the asylum office where your interview is to be held or directly go to the office and fill out a Request to Reschedule Asylum interview.
The request must include reasons you want to reschedule and evidence to support your claim. After reviewing the request and if it is the applicant’s first rescheduling request, the asylum officer will reschedule the interview.
How Can I Win My Asylum Interview?
Proving that you are unable to go back to your country because you have a legitimate fear that you will be persecuted or what you will experience in your country due to one of the following: political opinion, membership in a particular social group, race, nationality, or religion is one way to win your asylum interview.
Also, being honest and consistent during your interview is another way to win your case.
How Do You Prepare for the Most Important Questions?
At the asylum office, your interview is an essential part of the application; therefore, it is important to be prepared. Talk to your attorney and go over some of the most important questions for an asylum interview that could be asked. Practice how to answer asylum interview questions. This helps you get prepared.
Asylum Interview FAQs
How does the asylum interview work? What happens there?
The asylum interview aims to determine whether you deserve to stay in the U.S. or return to your country. You will be asked questions during the interview to help prove your asylum eligibility.
What should not be done during an asylum interview?
Here is a list of things you shouldn’t do when during your asylum or refugee interview questions
- Do not tell long stories; go straight to the point
- Do not explain your answers expect you are asked
- Do not use formal language or legal terms
- Do not refer the officer to a document instead of giving an answer
- Do not use “persecution” during asylum interview questions and answers
- Do not tell stories
- Do not feel the need to break the silence or start small conversations.
- Why does it take so long to process claims for asylum seekers?
Many cases come in; therefore, the USCIS only processes the claim after they come in. instead, they begin with the oldest cases first.
How long does it take to get asylum in the U.S.?
Depending on the facts and severity of your case, the asylum interview will probably last an hour or more. The interview time is not scheduled if you require additional time to address each question.