Common Questions About Asylum | Asylum Interview

If you are seeking asylum in the United States, you are already aware that it is a long and difficult process. First you have to request asylum by completing and filing Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal. Then you have to go to your biometrics appointment. And then you have to go to an interview where an asylum officer asks detailed questions about why you need this type of protection. For a lot of people, the interview is the scariest and most intimidating part of the process. But it won’t seem so scary if you know how to prepare and what to expect. In this section, we will help you get ready for your asylum interview by answering some common questions about it.

Can I reschedule my asylum interview?

Yes, you can. However, there is a specific process for doing so. According to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can either:

  • Make your request in writing and send, fax or email it  to the asylum office where your interview is scheduled to be held, or
  • Visit that asylum office and fill out an In-Person Reschedule Request.

Do not call the asylum office to ask about rescheduling your interview, because it simply will not accommodate any requests made by phone.

How do I reschedule my USCIS interview?

The asylum office will reschedule your interview if:

  • You made the request in person or in writing,
  • This is the first time you have asked to reschedule the interview,
  • And the asylum office receives your request prior to your original interview date.

After you submit your request, you will get a letter advising whether your interview will be rescheduled. You will also get a new interview appointment notice with the new interview date, time and location.

Justifying your request

You must prove that you have a valid reason for asking to reschedule your interview if you need to reschedule:

  • On the date of your interview,
  • On or within 45 days after the interview date, or
  • Your interview has already been rescheduled at least once.

How do I prepare for an asylum interview?

At the asylum interview, the asylum officer will ask you detailed questions about your application. This is because he or she is trying to figure out if you really qualify for asylum, or if you are lying so you can stay in the United States.

To be get ready for the interview, you should look over your application and the evidence you submitted. Doing this well before your interview — and doing it more than once — will allow you to become familiar with all the details the asylum officer may ask you about.  As you review the information, check for any inconsistencies, inaccuracies and/or mistakes.

If you spot any, you must point them out to the AO at the beginning of your interview, explain what the truth and why you made the mistake. You can also tell the asylum officer about any significant details that you accidentally omitted from your application or supporting documents at the beginning of the interview.

Whatever you do, do not exaggerate or lie about your reasons for seeking asylum. If you do and the asylum officer finds out, you may face serious consequences including the denial of your application.

Finally, don’t be afraid to practice answering questions in English, or working with an interpreter, ahead of time. If you aren’t worried about how to answer the questions during the interview, you will be more relaxed and seem more believable.

How long does an asylum interview last?

The length of your interview will depend on the specific circumstances of your case. In general you can expect that it will take at least an hour, but it could take up to two hours.

What should I wear to an asylum interview?

Technically, your appearance shouldn’t matter. However, making a good impression is always important, especially because it makes you seem more credible.

Therefore, you should be sure to dress as neatly as you can. If possible, consider wearing business attire or business casual clothing. For men, business attire  is usually a suit and tie. For women, this is usually a nice dress; or skirt, blouse and blazer. If you do not have this type of clothing, just be sure to wear the same type of  freshly washed and ironed clothing that you would wear for any other important occasion.

Do not wear anything that is ripped, torn, dirty or that smells. Do not wear blue jeans, shorts, athletic wear (such as sweatpants, sweatshirts, or track suits), t-shirts with any type of writing, or tight fitting clothing (like leggings).

Remember, it is important to make a positive impression on the asylum officer. By doing so, you will seem more believable and serious about your claim for asylum.