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Questions & Answers: Asylum Interviews

Q:  What Should I Bring with Me to the Asylum Interview?
A:   You should bring the following to the interview:· 

  • A form of identification, including:
    • any passport(s) you may have
    • other travel or identification documents
    • the Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, if you received one at the time of your arrival in the United States
  • The originals of any birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other documents you previously submitted with your Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal
  • A copy of your Form I-589 and other additional material that you previously submitted in case the asylum office is missing any of this information
  • Any additional available items documenting your claim that you have not already submitted with your application.
    • Any document in a language other than English must be accompanied by an English translation that the translator has certified as complete and correct
    • The translator must certify that he or she is competent to translate the language used in the document into English
  • You must bring an interpreter if you are not able to proceed with the interview in English
  • You have the right to bring an attorney or representative
    • Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative, states that the person is serving as your attorney or representative.
  • If your spouse and/or children under 21 were included in your asylum application as derivatives at the time you filed your application, they must also appear for the interview· 
    • They must bring any identity, travel or other supporting documents they have in their possession
    • Although you are required to list all of your family members on your application, you only need to bring those family member to the interview who will be included as dependents in the asylum decision

Q:   Should I Bring an Interpreter to My Asylum Interview?
A:   We do not provide any interpreters during the asylum interview, except in the case of hearing-impaired applicants*. You must bring an interpreter if you do not speak English well enough to proceed with the interview in English. The interpreter must be fluent in English and a language you speak fluently and must be at least 18 years old.

The following persons cannot serve as your interpreter:

  • Your attorney or representative of record
  • A witness testifying on your behalf at the interview; or· 
  • A representative or employee of the government of your country.

The regulation relating to interpreters can be found at: 8 CFR 208.9(g).

* If you are hearing impaired and need assistance in obtaining an appropriate interpreter, contact the asylum office with jurisdiction over your case in advance of your scheduled asylum interview.

Although we do not provide interpreters for the interview, we use contract interpreters to monitor affirmative asylum interviews at local asylum offices and other locations. In general, the role of the contract interpreter is limited to monitoring interpretation by an interpreter provided by the applicant. Contract interpreters may be expected to occasionally interject if the applicant’s interpreter fails to provide adequate, accurate, and neutral interpretation.

Q:   What Will Happen at my Asylum Interview?
A:   The interview will generally last at least an hour, although the time may vary depending on the case. You will be asked to take an oath promising to tell the truth during the interview. Your interpreter will also take an oath promising to interpret accurately and truthfully. The asylum officer will verify your identity, ask you basic biographical questions, the reasons you are applying for asylum, and questions to determine if any bars will prevent you from applying for or being granted asylum.

For more information on the bars to asylum, click on the “Asylum Bars” link to the right.

The asylum officer will know that it may be difficult for you to talk about traumatic and painful experiences that caused you to leave your country. However, it is very important that you tell about your experiences so that the Asylum Officer can determine whether you qualify for a grant of asylum.

The information you share with the asylum officer is confidential (See 8 C.F.R. § 208.6). 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.  There are certain exceptions to this rule, however, which can be found in the confidentiality regulation cited above. For more information on confidentiality and the asylum process, click on the “Fact Sheet on Asylum Confidentiality” link to the right.

You and your attorney or representative, if any, will have time at the end of the interview to make a statement or add any additional information. A decision on your case will not be made at the asylum interview. For the legal regulations governing asylum interviews, see 8 CFR 208.9.

Q:   What If I Need to Reschedule the Interview?
A:   If you need to reschedule your interview, you must either mail a letter to the asylum office where your interview is scheduled to be held, or go in person and complete a Request to Reschedule Asylum Interview.  For asylum office addresses, see the “Asylum Office Locator” link to the right.

Asylum offices will reschedule an interview if it is your first request for rescheduling and the request is received prior to the interview date. A request to reschedule an asylum interview must include the reason for the request and any relevant evidence.

Q:   What if the Interview Date Has Already Passed or the Interview Has Already Been Rescheduled on One or More Occasions?
A:   If a request to reschedule an interview is made on or within 15 days after the interview date, or if the interview has already been rescheduled on one or more occasions, you must establish that the request for rescheduling is due to good cause.  If the interview notice was not mailed to the most recent address provided to USCIS by you, the asylum office will reschedule the interview without requiring a showing of good cause.

Q:   How Is “Good Cause” Defined?
A:   “Good cause” may be defined as “a reasonable excuse for the inability to appear for an asylum interview.”  What constitutes good cause for one applicant may not constitute good cause when looking at the circumstances of another applicant.  asylum offices review requests for rescheduling on a case-by-case basis before determining whether the request to reschedule will be honored. In making the determination, asylum offices examine the totality of the history of the applicant’s case and the reason for the request, together with all evidence submitted.

Q:   What If I Fail to Appear for My Asylum Interview?
A:   If we do not receive a written explanation within 15 days after the date of the scheduled interview regarding your failure to appear, and you do not have legal status in the United States, your case will be referred to the Immigration Court. If you have legal status in the United States, your case will be administratively closed under 8 CFR 208.10. The asylum office director has discretion to reschedule your interview if you provide a reasonable explanation for your failure to appear. If you establish an exceptional circumstance that explains your failure to appear, or you can show that USCIS did not properly notify you of the interview, we will reschedule your interview.

Failure to appear at the interview may affect your eligibility to apply for work authorization. You are generally eligible to apply for work authorization 150 days after you submit a complete application, if a decision has not been made on your asylum application. However, if you applied for asylum on or after January 4, 1995, you will be ineligible for employment authorization if you fail to appear for an interview, unless your failure to appear is excused.

 

Last Reviewed/Updated: 09/03/2009