USCIS does 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 interpreters, contact the asylum office with jurisdiction over your case in advance of your scheduled asylum interview.
Although the Asylum Division does not provide interpreters for the interview, Asylum Offices use contract interpreters to monitor affirmative asylum interviews at local Asylum Offices and at circuit ride 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.
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 and ask you basic biographical questions. The Asylum Officer will also ask you about the reasons you are applying for asylum. 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 the Asylum Officer your experiences so that the Asylum Officer can determine whether you qualify for a grant of asylum. The Asylum Officer will also ask you questions to determine if any bars will prevent you from applying for or being granted asylum. For more information on the bars to asylum, see the “Bars to Applying for and Receiving Asylum” info sheet in the links below.
The information you share with the Asylum Officer is protected by confidentiality provisions found in 8 CFR § 208.6. In general, information related to your asylum claim cannot not 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 regulations cited above. For more information on confidentiality and the asylum process, see the “Fact Sheet on Asylum Confidentiality” and "Is the Information I Provide on My Application Protected?" in the links below.
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.
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 to that asylum office and complete a Request to Reschedule Asylum Interview in person. The addresses for the eight asylum offices can be found by clicking on the “Asylum Office locations” link on the main asylum home page. A request to reschedule an asylum interview must include the reason for the request and any relevant evidence. The request must be received less than 15 days after the interview date. The Asylum Office will reschedule an interview if it is the applicant’s first request for rescheduling and the request is received prior to the interview date.
You should bring the following documents to the interview if available:
A form of identification, including any passport(s) you possess, other travel or identification documents, and the Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record, if you received one at the time of your arrival in the U.S.;
The originals of any birth certificates, marriage certificates, or other documents you previously submitted with your Form I-589;
A copy of your Form I-589 and other supplementary 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, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate into English the language used in the document.
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. The attorney or representative must have filed or bring with him a Form G-28, which states that he or she is your attorney. (See link to G-28 below).
If your spouse and/or children under 21 at the time you filed your application are included in your asylum application as derivatives, they must also appear for the interview and 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 to the interview that will be included as dependents in the asylum decision.
Generally, unavailability of the applicant's attorney will not constitute good cause. The filing of a G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative, does not prevent Asylum Offices from processing an application in the absence of the applicant’s attorney. If an Asylum Office denies an applicant's request to reschedule an interview and the applicant’s attorney is not available for the interview, the applicant can either sign a waiver and proceed with the interview without the attorney or accept referral to an Immigration Judge. Although an applicant is entitled to have an attorney present at the interview, the applicant, not the Asylum Office, is responsible for ensuring that his or her attorney is present for the interview.
“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 good cause 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.
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 occasion, the applicant 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 the applicant, the Asylum Office will reschedule the interview without requiring a showing of good cause.
If USCIS does not receive a written explanation for your failure to appear within 15 days after the date of the scheduled interview, 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. See 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 can show that USCIS did not properly notify you of the interview, USCIS 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 to the Service Center 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. See 8 CFR § 208.7(a)(4).