After an asylum application has been submitted to the USCIS, the applicant will receive a Notice to Appear for an interview with an Asylum Officer at the local asylum office. During the interview, the Asylum Officer will ask questions about the applicant’s identity, information provided in the asylum application, any applicable bars to eligibility for asylum and any documents submitted in support of the application.
The applicant must bring originals of all documents submitted with the application, such as identity documents, passport, travel documents, birth certificate, affidavits and declarations, photographs and medical records. If any of the documents are not in English, the applicant must bring certified translations of these documents.
If a spouse and children under 21 years old were included in the application, they must accompany the applicant to the interview, and also bring original passports, birth certificates, identity documents, marriage certificates etc.
The applicant is permitted to bring witnesses to the asylum office. This is beneficial if the witness can testify about the harm suffered by the applicant. Witnesses can be family members or anyone with first hand knowledge of the applicant’s story.
An interpreter is also permitted to attend the interview Although it is not required, it is a good idea to have an attorney present at the interview. The attorney can help make sure that the interview is conducted appropriately and that any legal issues that might arise be clarified.
The Asylum Officer will begin the interview by asking the applicant to explain the reasons for applying for asylum, and ask specific questions about information included in the asylum application or in the supporting documents.
In explaining the reason for applying for asylum, applicants must include detailed information about themselves, how they were personally harmed in the past, why they are afraid to return, why they suffered harm and what would happen if they had to return to the home country.
The Asylum Officer’s role is to test the credibility of the asylum application. In order to be granted asylum, an applicant must be found to be credible.
The Asylum Officer will not reach a decision on the application at the time of the interview. The decision will be mailed to the applicant within a few weeks after the interview.