Do you want to know how to prepare for and excel at your asylum interview?
Read our first post, ASYLUM PROCESS USA PART 1: The Three Parts to the Asylum Interview, to familiarize yourself with the three key parts of the interview. The following general tips and strategies will prepare you and help maximize the opportunity to present a good case at your interview!
- 1) Know Important Dates and the Order of Events: While you don’t need to memorize all the specific dates of events that you describe in your story, know the most important ones, the order of when key events occurred, and have a timeline that sounds logical. For example, if your asylum claim involves danger resulting from a civil war in your country of origin, it wouldn’t make sense if you told the officer that you left 10 years before the war began and haven’t returned since.
- 2) Know what facts are possible legal issues you need to address and go over them with your attorney: While not necessarily disqualifying, facts like a misdemeanor charge, being coerced into activity by a designated terrorist group, holding visas and/or passports from other countries, and more, might have serious consequences on your application if you are unable to explain and address them. Go over these possible issues with your asylum attorney so they can prepare any legal arguments where applicable, and help you prepare on how to answer questions related to these issues.
- 3) Be truthful: In the United States, perjury during any sort of legal proceeding is taken very seriously and often constitutes a felony – a very serious crime. If you deliberately lie to the officer and they find out, it will not only affect your asylum application and lead to a denial, but you could be prevented from being eligible for any other type of immigration relief. You are much better off being truthful about any weaknesses in your application than you are trying to conceal them or lie about them.
- 4) Pace yourself: The personal statement portion of the interview is the most important part. Therefore, be aware of how much time you spend on each portion to leave enough time to tell your story. Make sure you go slow enough to provide all the necessary information, but don’t provide any unnecessary details that are not relevant to why you are seeking asylum. Provide a clear picture of what caused you to leave your home country and why you qualify for asylum.
- 5) Know when a translator is necessary: If you struggle with English and have a hard time speaking it, it’s a good idea to arrange for a translator to accompany you during the interview, rather than doing the interview in English.
- 6) Consistency = Truth: The more consistent your story is, the more believable and compelling it will be. Make sure that all the information in your application is consistent and that there aren’t any contradictions. For example, don’t list the last time you left your country of origin as 2013 on one page, but list it as 2017 on another.
- 7) You Should Know the Information Better Than Anyone Else: You are the expert at your own story, so make it clear to the officer that you have a good memory of any relevant information and can answer any questions thrown your way.
- 8) Review Your Previously Submitted Application: Review your I-589 Asylum Application and be prepared with amendments or edits to make to your application so that all the information is up to date.
These tips and strategies will help you prepare for your interview, feel more confident during the interview, and help ensure that you made the most of the opportunity to tell your asylum story!
Contact us if you would like to meet with an asylum attorney to prepare for your interview! An asylum attorney will be able to address any questions you have about the actual interview, prepare you for the testimony part, and attend the interview with you! They can also provide a closing statement to tie together the different components of your case.