How to Prepare for an Asylum Interview

As immigration lawyers, we work with many people who come to the U.S. seeking asylum. For many individuals, applying for asylum in the U.S. is their only chance to escape persecution in their home country. No matter what your reason for fleeing your home country is, asylum can be the light at the end of the tunnel to provide you with the stability you need.

Navigating the waters of the asylum application process can be confusing. As immigration lawyers, we can help you can put together a strong I-589 application as the foundation for your asylum case. The next, and arguably the most difficult step, is the asylum interview.

Many people go into the interview not knowing what to expect or how to answer the asylum officer’s questions. The asylum officer can ask a lot of confusing questions that you might not know how to properly answer if you haven’t practiced ahead of time.

Knowing what to do and say ahead of time will certainly help you pass your asylum interview. Here are some tips on how to better prepare for your asylum interview: 

Be Ready to Answer, “Why Are You Afraid to Go Back to Your Home Country?”

Know your story. Be completely honest and don’t beat around the bush. Tell your interviewer exactly what could happen to you if you return to your home country. Keep your story as clear and concise as possible. Asylum officers have a difficult time following complicated narratives and will look for anything that seems remotely off, so keep your story straight and have it follow an easy-to-navigate timeline.

Know the Details of Your Asylum Case

With the help of your immigration lawyer, you should review your I-589 asylum application, your affidavit, and all supporting documents. Memorize the dates of important events as best as you possibly can. The officer will instruct you not to guess on any of your dates. If you cannot remember a date exactly, give what seems like an accurate ballpark. For example, you can say something along the lines of, “I can’t remember the exact day, but I remember it was in the spring of 2016.”

Additionally, if you were threatened, harmed, or mistreated, you need to know exactly how many times it occurred. Instead of saying “often” or “constantly,” you should indicate if the threats were hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Be specific!

Watch Your Framing

A good lawyer once said, “credibility is based on not only what you say, but how you say it.” Sometimes you’re met with a really kind and patient asylum officer, and sometimes you’re met with a hostile asylum officer. No matter what, listen to the questions carefully and answer clearly and slowly. Be nice to the asylum officer, even if your niceness is not reciprocated. And never ever ever say “I’ll be honest with you” or “I’m not going to lie to you.” Even just prefacing a statement with these phrases usually backfires and makes it seem like you’re lying.

Use Your Immigration Lawyer as a Resource

If your lawyer was the one who helped you put together your asylum application, use them to your benefit. Here at Goldstein Immigration Lawyers, we’re here to help you. We want you to pass your asylum interview with flying colors so we’re going to do everything we can to prepare you. We’ve helped many people just like you, so we know all the “ins” and “outs” of the asylum interview. Our immigration lawyers are here to answer any questions you have and make sure that you win your case.

If you’re in the process of seeking asylum, call Goldstein Immigration Lawyers today at (213) 262-2000 to speak with an immigration attorney about your case. We look forward to helping you!