If you have submitted an application for Asylum, you will have to go through an official interview with a USCIS interviewer. This will take place soon after you submit your application. This is where the immigration official listens to your story in person and determines whether you’re telling the truth and whether your story qualifies you for additional protection under immigration and Refugee law. They will ask you many questions about the information in your application as well as your experiences back in your home country and any documentation that you supplied with your application. If you are a recent college graduate or in college and need to remain in the US, you need to prepare.
If you have an upcoming Asylum interview, the best way to prepare is to work with your top U.S. immigration attorney to review the application that you filed and any documents or personal statements that you attached. You will need to be crystal clear on the dates of events that you described and what transpired.
This can be very stressful because under normal circumstances, people often forget dates of travel or events, and it’s easy enough to go searching for the answer when you fill out an official application, but it’s much harder to recall the answer off the top of your head in a stressful and official interview process.
While it might seem ridiculous that someone being unable to remember the specific dates of multiple events from their past would be grounds for an asylum request being denied, this has happened in the past because the government has to make sure that you are credible. They want to make sure that the story you told in your application is the same story you tell in person, but the facts are the same no matter what. If there is any discrepancy, an officer might believe that you are lying. So, working with an immigration attorney near you can help.
During your Asylum interview, the person who is interviewing you will ask any questions that they think are necessary to establish a legitimate fear for you of returning home. They might ask you:
- To give examples of the persecution that you experienced or persecution of a group to whom you belong that you witnessed
- To explain the difficulties that you anticipate should you be sent back to your home country
- The route you took to arrive in the United States. This is a more complicated set of questions because International and US law pertaining to asylum-seekers has a lot to do with the exact places you traveled and where you landed after fleeing your home country. If, for example, you landed in another country first and you were given residency rights in that first country, you might be denied your Asylum claim in the United States because you already have somewhere safe where you can live.
- How you were able to afford traveling to the United States
- questions about a new family members you have who live in the United States or live abroad
- to explain any criminal charges you have either in your home country or in the United States
- to provide verification that you belong to a particular group being persecuted. For example, if you say that your religious group is experiencing persecution in your home country, you might have to provide answers on the core components and practices of that religion to prove that you really are a practitioner.
If you are asked a question that you don’t understand, the officer can repeat it for you if you just ask. You can also ask that they rephrase it because you don’t understand. This is something that a qualified Immigration lawyer can help you prepare for.
Unfortunately, when the interview is over, you won’t know immediately what the decision is. A USCIS officer and staff member will review your case and then make the decision to grant you asylum or refer your case to immigration court where removal proceedings will begin. The decision will either be mailed to you or they might ask that you come to the local office to pick it up yourself when it is ready.
The process of an asylum claim and an asylum interview can be very stressful. In order to be as successful as possible you need careful preparation beforehand. You can bring an attorney with you and it is recommended that given the high risk of denial, you hire an experienced immigration attorney who can work with you before your interview and after.