If you have filed Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and an interview has been scheduled in connection with this application, you must bring the following documents to the appointment:
- Official identification issued by a government agency that includes your photograph and verifies your name, nationality, age, and other relevant information. Examples include but are not limited to your passport and similar travel documents.
- Your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record (if issued upon your arrival in the United States) as proof of lawful admission into the United States.
- Your original birth certificate, marriage certificate, or any other original document that you provided a copy of when you filed Form I-589.
- Copies of your Form I-589 and any additional supporting documents you provided along with your application in case the asylum office lost the initial set.
- Any additional material you may have that support your claim and which hasn’t been submitted with your application.
You may also bring an interpreter with you if you are not comfortable understanding and answering questions in English.
Your spouse and/or children under 21 must also come to the appointment with you if you identified them as derivatives when you filed Form I-589. Be sure that they bring the same type of identification, travel documents, and supporting documents specified above.
You must also bring certified translations of any document submitted with the application that is written in any language other than English. This means that the document must be translated into English from the original language and the translator must include an official statement indicating that he or she is qualified to do the translation. He or she must also include official statements pertaining to the thoroughness and accuracy of the translation.
As noted above, a qualified person must come to the interview with you to translate if you cannot understand and answer questions in English. He or she must be fluent in English and a language you speak fluently and must be 18 or older. Your translator cannot be your attorney or any other advocate; someone testifying for you at the interview; a government employee or anyone else representing your country.
Please note that USCIS does not provide any interpreters for the asylum interview unless you are hearing-impaired. If you are hearing impaired and need help getting an appropriate interpreter, contact the asylum office with jurisdiction over your case prior to your scheduled asylum interview.
Failure to bring a competent interpreter to your interview if you cannot speak English will result in the cancelation and rescheduling of your interview. This is regarded as a delay caused by you and your 180-day Asylum Employment Authorization Document (EAD) Clock will stop until you attend your rescheduled interview with a competent interpreter.
⚖️ BRINGING AN ATTORNEY OR REPRESENTATIVE TO YOUR INTERVIEW
You have the right to bring an attorney or representative to your asylum interview, at no cost to the U.S. government. For a list of pro bono (free or reduced cost) attorneys and community-based, non-profit organizations that may be able to help, visit:
- The USCIS Avoid Scams Web page at www.uscis.gov/avoidscams;
- The U.S. Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov/eoir/ra.htm;
- EOIR’s website provides a list of free legal service providers by state at www.usdoj.gov/eoir/probono/states.htm or by contacting the USCIS Field Office or asylum office near your home.
Your attorney or representative can only come with you if Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative, is submitted to USCIS prior to your interview.❓WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY OF YOUR INTERVIEW
This interview usually takes an hour, but it could be longer or shorter depending on the circumstances of your case. It will begin with the administration of an oath, in which you must promise to be honest during the interview. At this point, your translator must also promise to interpret all of the questions and answers accurately and truthfully.
Next, the asylum officer will confirm that you are who you claim to be, and ask some basic questions about you and why you are seeking asylum. He or she will also ask questions to see if there are any legal reasons why you can’t apply for or receive asylum. To learn about the bars to asylum, please visit the USCIS Asylum Bars Web page.
The asylum officer will be aware and respect 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 talk about your experiences so that he or she can decide whether you qualify for a grant of asylum.
The information you share with the asylum officer is confidential. In general, information related to your asylum claim cannot be shared with outside parties without your written permission or specific authorization by the Secretary of Homeland Security. However, there are some exceptions, which can be found in the confidentiality regulation (See 8 CFR 208.6). For more information on confidentiality and the asylum process, please see the USCIS Fact Sheet on Asylum Confidentiality.
❌ MISSING OR RESCHEDULING YOUR INTERVIEW
If you need to reschedule your interview, you must either:
Mail, fax or email a letter to the asylum office where your interview is scheduled to be held, or go to that asylum office and fill out a form called an In-Person Reschedule Request. In either case, the request must include the reason for the request and any relevant evidence. For example, if you cannot attend the interview as initially scheduled because of a medical condition requiring surgery, you must provide a statement from your doctor or similar proof. Please note that requests made by phone will not be accepted.
You’ll get a written notice stating whether your request has been accepted or denied. Generally, your interview will be rescheduled if this is your first request and it is received before your interview date. If your request is granted, you will also receive a new interview appointment notice with the new interview date, time, and location.
As noted above, you must prove that your request for rescheduling is due to good cause. Specifically, you must do so if you need to reschedule on the date of your interview; on or within 45 days after the interview date; or if your interview has already been rescheduled more than once.
You must prove that your request for rescheduling is due to exceptional circumstances if you are making the request more than 45 days after your original interview date. Exceptional circumstances are a higher standard than good cause. If you do not establish exceptional circumstances for your failure to appear at your asylum interview, you may be ineligible for employment authorization. (See 8 CFR 208.7(a)(4)). More information about establishing good cause and exceptional circumstances is available on the Establishing Good Cause or Exceptional Circumstances web page.
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How Is “Good Cause” Defined?
“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.
What If I Fail to Appear for My Asylum Interview?
If USCIS does 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 the 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.
What questions officer asks in an asylum interview?
There are certain questions that the Officers usually ask, and you should be prepared for them:
Why do you fear returning to your country?
If you or a family member have been harmed in the past, describe what happened.
If you face harm from a terrorist group or another non-governmental actor, can your home government protect you?
Is there somewhere in your country where you can live safely?
IMPORTANT: Know your story, stick to it, and do not attempt to talk about things you do not know. If you are unable to answer any of the questions, it’s fine to say that you don’t know, don’t understand, or that you don’t remember.
Usually near the end of the interview, the Officer will ask you the “Bar questions”:
Have you committed a crime or been arrested?
Are you a terrorist?
Did you ever have military training?
Everyone must answer the above Questions!
How long does it take to get a decision on asylum?
There is no such thing as an average time to get a decision. In most cases, three-four weeks after the interview. However, there may be longer processing times if you were interviewed at a district office, are currently in valid status, or if your case will be reviewed by Asylum Division Headquarters staff. Generally, you will receive the decision by mail if any of these circumstances occur.
If the Asylum office determines that you are eligible for asylum, you will receive a letter and completed Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, indicating that you have been Granted Asylum in the United States.
When you apply for asylum you will receive one of the following decisions:
- Grant of Asylum
- Referral to an Immigration Court
- Recommended Approval
- Notice of Intent to Deny
- Final Denial
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