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Special Report – Preparing for your Asylum Interview



The asylum interview is scheduled to determine your eligibility for asylum in the United States. In other words, to determine whether you were persecuted in the past, or fear future persecution on account of your membership and/or activities, and/or opinion or imputed opinion, vis-a-vis politics, religion, or a particular social group

The information you share with the asylum officer is confidential. In general, information related to your asylum claim cannot be shared with third parties without your written consent or specific authorization by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

Upon arrival, at the interview location, you will have to check in by giving your interview notice, get fingerprinted and photographed. You will also be given a form containing an oath to read and bring along with you when you are called. This form should not be signed until you appear before the Asylum Officer for your interview. If there are many applicants), there may be a long wait before an Asylum Officer will call you in.

When you are called in, the Asylum Officer will normally introduce him or herself, administer an oath and also ask you to sign the oath form that you were given when you checked in. If you have an interpreter, the oath will also be administered to that person. In cases with interpreters, the Asyum Officers also use a “monitoring interpreter.” This is done by having that person on the telephone during the interview. That person is expected to monitor the interpretation and may intervene if or when any interpretation is not correct.

court concept

The interview is non-adversarial and normally lasts for about one to two hours. It is held in the office of an Asylum Officer, and not in a court room. The Asylum Officer will normally begin the interview by stating or explaining some ground rules. For example, asking you to speak clearly and loudly; to ask him or her to repeat a question you do not understand, etc. The Officer will then review your Application (Form I-589) with you. You would be given an opportunity to make any corrections to your application. It is advisable to review your application and note any errors before the interview.

The Asylum Officer will then proceed to interview you. In most cases the interview will begin with a generic question like why you are seeking asylum in the United States. If you do not understand a question, do not answer. You should ask for the question to be repeated or clarified. If you are not sure about the answer to a question or you do not know the answer, do not be afraid to say so. Never guess the answer to a question.

There are some questions that will obviously be asked. These include but are not limited to : why are you afraid to go back to your country? What happened, when and how? Who were involved and what part did they play? What will happen to you if you were to return to your country, and how do you know that?

At the end of the interview, the Officer will ask you a series of questions that are asked of all applicants. These are called “security question”. They generally would be questions about whether you have been a terrorists, participated in terrorists activities, involved in criminal activities, involved in military or para military activities etc. The answers will be a yes or a no.

Sometimes at the end of the interview, the Officer will ask whether you have anything else to add. It is not advisable to for you to repeat your testimony (except there is an aspect that the Asylum Officer did not cover). It is recommended that you simply thank the officer

Before ending the interview, the Asylum Officer will inform you about the next steps. The decision is not given on the day of the interview. You are either required to return (usually within 2 weeks) to get your decision, or the decision will be mailed to you.

Documents / Information You Should Take To Your Interview

  1. A form of identification, including:
  2. Any passports you may have,
  3. Other travel or identification documents, and
  4. Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, if you received one when you arrived in the U.S.
  5. The originals of any birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other documents you previously submitted with your Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal (Form I-589), and any additional material that you previously submitted in case the asylum office is missing any of this information;
  6. Any additional items you have available that document your claim and that you have not already submitted with your application (Some Asylum Offices will not accept new supporting documents on the day of the interview).
  7. An interpreter if you are not able to communicate in English,
  8. Your spouse and/or children under 21, if they were included in your asylum application as derivatives  at the time you filed your application. They must bring any identity, travel or other supporting documents they have in their possession.
  9. A certified translation of any document that is not in English
  10. If your application was filed by an attorney, you may come along with that attorney. If it was not filed by an attorney, you have the right to bring an attorney or representative to your interview at no cost to the U.S. government.  You and your attorney/representative must submit a (Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative to USCIS), in order for your attorney/representative to accompany you to your asylum interview.



This Special Report is intended to provide basic information about the selected legal topic. The information is provided solely for informational purposes and does not create a business or professional relationship with the Law Offices of Fogam & Associates, LLC, Edwin K. Fogam, or any of our individual attorneys, or affiliates if does not already exist. This is not presented as legal advice. Each person’s legal needs are unique. Laws change frequently, and it is possible that some of the information here may no longer be true at the time of reading, or may not apply to someone in your situation or jurisdiction. You should consult with an attorney familiar with the law in your jurisdiction and your particular situation before making specific legal decisions

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