Questions You are Likely to Hear in an Asylum Interview
Your 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.