It’s easy to make mistakes when you’re seeking asylum in the United States. While some mistakes may just delay the process for you, others may result in your application being denied entirely. Many common asylum mistakes can be avoided, but it’s good to know what you may be doing wrong before you make each step.
Mistakes in Applying
The application process itself is extensive and needs a lot of attention to detail. There are a lot of things you should pay attention to that can cause you problems later in the process. Here are a few common asylum application mistakes to avoid:
- Applying without eligibility
Sometimes when a relative or friend is granted asylum, it’s easy to assume you will also be granted asylum under similar pretenses. However, you may not be individually eligible, and you should examine your own claim carefully. Applying for asylum without a bona fide claim usually leads to rejection, but it may also lead to fraud charges in some cases.
- Sending forms to the wrong office
There is specific address information for where each form needs to be delivered. If you fail to send the applications to the right location, they will not be accepted. You need to look for the addresses and offices to send your forms. This information is usually given on the forms themselves or in the instructions.
- Lying or misrepresenting facts on the application
Asylum applications are legal documents. Falsified information may be considered as fraud, which can have serious consequences for you. You should never lie on any of your asylum application forms or supporting documents, nor should you misrepresent any of the facts of your case to try to make it look better.
- Failing to review or sign the application forms
It’s unwise to send in your application forms without first double-checking them for errors or other mistakes. You can easily make corrections if you find errors before sending them in, but those same errors may cause problems if you send your forms in with them present. Also, you need to make sure you put your signature in all the required places before you submit your documents. Applications without signatures cannot be considered valid until you’ve signed them.
- Missing filing deadlines
Remember that one of the requirements for asylum status is to file within one year of entering the United States, unless certain special circumstances can be shown to have caused delays. If you miss this filing deadline, you may not be allowed to file a claim for asylum at all, so it’s imperative that you pay attention to deadlines given by the USCIS!
The interview itself is a vital part of the asylum process. It helps the USCIS officials tell if you have a legitimate claim to asylum, and if you’ve been truthful in your case. Your interview is something you should prepare for, so you don’t make some of these common asylum interview mistakes:
- Being late for the interview
You need to be on time for any official hearings or interviews. There can be negative consequences if you show up too late, and it can also start things off on the wrong foot with your interviewer.
- Skipping or ignoring interviews and hearings
Asylum court hearings and interviews are all part of the legal asylum process. If you don’t attend your hearings and interviews, there is a high chance you’ll be rejected for asylum without much consideration of your application. Don’t skip any official hearings or interviews.
- Not submitting documents before the interview
All supporting documents need to be submitted to the asylum interview office before the date of the interview. Many times, there will be a deadline of at least 1 week before the interview. These documents will not be considered at all in the interview unless you submit before the deadline date.
- Giving different answers to the same questions
You’ll most likely be asked the same or similar questions multiple times. Try not to get too confused. It’s important that you give consistent answers to questions, or you may lose your credibility. Spend a little time thinking about the question before you answer, instead of just speaking whatever comes to your mind first. It’s better to think and remember first instead of giving the wrong answer. If you don’t have an answer to a question, try to say “I don’t know” instead of “I don’t recall”.
- Responding to questions you don’t understand
If you’re at all confused by a question, ask for clarification before you answer. This is perfectly acceptable, and it will help you answer questions appropriately instead of accidentally giving the wrong answer.
Mistakes in Conduct While Waiting
There are some things you can do before you’re granted asylum that can turn out to be big mistakes. Here are some things to avoid while your asylum request is pending:
- Committing an act that is considered a bar to asylum
Some criminal acts you may commit are automatic bars from obtaining asylum. You need to avoid getting into any trouble that may be counted as a bar to your asylum request.
- Leaving the country without a legal route back in
You need to be inside the US in order to apply for asylum. Unless you have the right documentation to get back into the US, you may ruin your chances of receiving asylum. Additionally, traveling without the right documentation allows the USCIS to make a legal presumption that you’ve withdrawn your asylum application, whether that is the case or not. This may be difficult to reverse if it happens. If there’s an urgent need for you to leave the US for any reason, it’s advisable to apply for Advance Parole status.
- Returning to your home country
If you return to your home country while applying for asylum in the US, it will be presumed that you don’t have a reason to fear returning, and your asylum application will most likely be rejected. You may be able to continue the process if you can show a compelling reason why it was worth the risk to return, but in most cases the USCIS will assume there is no longer a reason for you to fear persecution in your home country, and your application may even be considered fraudulent.
Consult an Asylum Lawyer
The best way to make sure you’re avoiding these common asylum mistakes is to work with an asylum lawyer throughout the process. The Law Office of Fady Eskandar is here to help you with your asylum request from start to finish, to make sure you avoid one of these costly US asylum mistakes.