Everyone who applies for asylum in the United States must go through an interview process. This is true for both affirmative and defensive asylum applications. The asylum interview is one of the most important parts of the entire process, and it can determine whether or not you have a viable claim to asylee status.
What Will Be Asked at the Asylum Interview?
There are two parts to the interview. During the first part, you’ll be asked to take an oath in which you promise to only tell the truth. You’ll then be asked if you want to make any corrections in your form I-589 application for asylum or withholding of removal. You may make any necessary corrections to the form, which you should review before the interview to double-check for accuracy.
The first part of the interview is simply administrative, while the second part is the bulk of the interview. During this second part, you’ll be asked a number of questions about why you have a need to seek asylum. There are no specific questions that are usually asked. But, it’s safe to assume you’ll be asked questions about these areas:
- Why you’re applying for asylum
- What your grounds for fear of persecution are
- Specific answers you’ve given on your application form
- Questions about supporting documents or evidence you’ve included in your application
- If you have done anything to bar yourself from asylum
It’s difficult to predict exactly what an asylum interview officer may ask you. For this reason, you need to spend a lot of time preparing for your interview to be sure you understand everything about your case. If you don’t give consistently accurate answers that also reflect what’s written on your application, you may be less likely for approval.
The interviewer’s job is to make sure you have a credible reason to be granted asylum. This means they may be employing strategies that will test your credibility, such as asking you very similar questions multiple times to match up your answers. Try to remain calm and answer as consistently as possible.
If you aren’t sure how to answer a question or you don’t understand what the officer is asking, you need to ask them to clarify. Don’t make any guesses or assumptions, because wrong or inconsistent answers may severely impact your final decision.
How to Get Ready for Your Asylum Interview
Because of the importance of the asylum interview, you need to give yourself time to prepare for you. You should also check that you’ve fulfilled all the requirements ahead of time. Here are a few things you can do to make sure you’re ready for your interview:
- Check that you’ve submitted all documents, applications, and evidence by the deadline.
- Prepare documents, IDs, and other materials required to be presented the day of the interview.
- Plan for an interpreter if needed. USCIS will not provide an interpreter for your interview, so you will need to bring your own if you cannot complete the interview in English. Get more details here about who can serve as your interpreter.
- Review your asylum application and all supporting documents closely. Try to consistently remember details from all the paperwork you’ve submitted. This includes dates, names, places, and events that are mentioned.
- Make note of any mistakes or inconsistencies you find in your application or supporting documents, so you can mention them for correction to the asylum officer ahead of the interview.
- Practice answering questions about painful, embarrassing, or difficult situations that may be connected to your asylum application.
- Prepare a short closing statement.
Note that not all asylum offices have the same deadlines for submitting documentation. Check with the office that will be conducting your interview to make sure you get everything submitted on time to be considered.
The asylum interview is a huge part of what determines your application’s outcome. An asylum attorney can help you present the strongest case possible and prepare well for your interview. Contact the Law Office of Fady Eskandar to help you get ready for your United States asylum interview.