7 tips on how to apply for asylum in the US
Former asylum officer at the State Asylum Office in Newark, Ethan Taubas, told the community RIF Asylum Support on how to prepare an application for asylum and prepare for an interview.
1. Submit a complete asylum application. There are three main elements of an application package that an applicant must send with an application for asylum: (i) a completed application form; (ii) a statement; and (iii) supporting documentation for your application. Sending all these documents together will help the officer check your history in advance and determine its plausibility. The text of the statement should explain your asylum application and help the officer understand how you are applying for asylum. It is important to give an explanation on any issues in which the officer may be interested. If possible, explain how and when you received the documents you provide and the reasons for which you provide them.
2. Provide relevant documentation to validate your application. Asylum officers conduct background research and have access to reports on the current situation in your country. Do not include documents that have nothing to do with the application. Provide documents that relate to you personally as an applicant. Provide articles in which you are named by name, if any, in support of your application. Submit targeted news articles to support your story. Include documents confirming or supporting your application, such as medical reports and photographs showing your injuries. Provide documents that are accurate and genuine, however, fake documents may be submitted explaining their purpose if they support your statement.
3. All documents in a foreign language must be accompanied by a certified translation into English. It is very important that when submitting documents that are not in English, they have the corresponding certified translation made by a person who is fluent in English and foreign languages.
4. Provide additional documentation or updates well in advance of the interview. Asylum officers have many responsibilities. They conduct two interviews a day and two days before each interview, review the application package. It is best to submit additional documents or updated information prior to the interview date, to give the employee time to review new documents before the interview.
5. Ask for special conveniences before interviewing. The asylum seeker must be able to accurately and in detail convey his personal history and the reasons for which they should be granted asylum. Asylum officers understand that a person’s traumatic experience can cause him / her memory problems, anxiety, and other psychological problems. If you are in this situation, report it to the office before the interview so that they can create special conditions, and explain why you are asking for them. For example, if you suffer from post-traumatic syndrome as a result of your experience in your country, provide information about your condition (for example, a psychological assessment) to explain memory problems or inconsistencies in history. Another example, if you are a victim of domestic violence and you prefer the interviewer to be a woman, then you can request this condition before the interview.
6. Do not tell a lie. During the interview, if you do not understand the question, ask the employee to repeat the question. If you do not know the answer to the question, say that you do not know. If you do not remember the details, say that you do not remember. It is important to be truthful, since a lie can lead to a ban on asylum or on another immigration status.
7. Prepare for the interview. A typical interview lasts two hours, so it is important that you do a rehearsal of your interview. Review the asylum application and supporting documents that you submitted in advance. If you have a translator, make sure you prepare with your translator. This is your mouthpiece, so the translator should be familiar with your manner of speaking and be able to translate you word for word. He / she must be confident in his / her knowledge and conversation in English and understand your dialect. You need a translator who can stand up for you and speak on your behalf - fight for you.
Taubas also answered frequently asked questions by asylum seekers:
1. What happens to applicants who, by decision of the asylum officer, are not credible? Two weeks after the interview, the applicant receives a written decision on his case. If the officer determines that the applicant is not credible or there is not enough evidence for asylum, the applicant’s case is sent to the immigration court, where you have a second chance to prove your right to asylum before the immigration judge.
2. What happens to pending applications (applications filed in 2016-2017)? How does the office implement the “last received, first served” rule (the most recent submitted applications are considered first (LIFO) ”? What is the rationale for these changes? Has the asylum law changed? According to a recent rule “last received, served first”, those with pending requests, including those submitted before this new rule, will have to wait longer until their interviews are scheduled. If an emergency occurs, for example, if the lives of family members are in danger, the applicant can apply for an acceleration directly to the shelter office. To cope with the backlog in consideration, asylum officers are assisted by employees from the refugee office, and the office is actively receiving new employees. The reason for this rule change is to suspend unreasonable requests and limit the growth of the waiting list. It is only a change of rules, and the grounds for granting asylum remain unchanged, and have not changed, despite the emerging trends in asylum.
3. When can an applicant apply for asylum? Is there a mandatory waiting period before an applicant can apply for asylum? Not. The decision to apply for asylum is made by the applicant and his lawyer / representative. There is a deadline for submission of applications within one year, but there are exceptions to this rule. In some cases, it is recommended to submit an application before the expiration of your status, but we do not recommend applying until you have all the necessary documentation to confirm your application. As a rule, when you apply, the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) participates in your case, so they are interested in your case being resolved and you will not become a person for priority deportation.
4. Can I change or add to the application after sending it? Yes. If you have additional or updated documentation, send it before the date of the interview (see tip above). At the beginning of the interview, the employee will ask you if all the information you have provided so far is true and accurate. If this is not the case, then this is your chance to make the necessary corrections.
5. What happens if country conditions change while your asylum application is pending? Depends on the situation. A change in conditions in a country does not necessarily mean that a person is no longer in danger if he returns to the country. In some cases, the complainant has suffered so much persecution in the past that it is absolutely impossible to send him back. Each case is considered individually, and the applicant must show the reasons why he or she cannot return, despite the changing conditions in the country.
6. If you have a family member who has applied in the past, and you are applying now, are the relatives' applications related? Normally, no. Asylum applications are confidential and personal. An employee is not allowed to use the testimony of other applicants, unless they renounce confidentiality (for example, “you can use your brother’s testimony and statement if he agrees to waive confidentiality for you”).
7. Should family members be in the United States for inclusion in the application? Yes, all applicants included in the application must be in the United States and must be interviewed, including spouses and children. They will be asked questions to determine if there are problems that can exclude them from the right of asylum (the so-called “questions about the prohibition of the granting of asylum”). Family members outside the country may be added later, after the main applicant has been granted asylum in the United States.
8. Is it necessary to have a translator? Can your attorney be your translator? What happens if the translator is incompetent? The asylum office does not provide translators, so you must provide your translator if you are not confident in your knowledge of English. Your lawyer may be your translator, but this means that she or he cannot be your lawyer at the same time, since he or she has abandoned her role as a lawyer to become your translator. If an employee or an observer decides that your translator is incompetent, they will stop the interview and transfer it to another time, which may further delay the process and 180-day hours for a work permit.
9. What is the role of the observer (monitor)? The observer cannot be your second translator. Their main role is to intervene when there is an error in translation, and to help minimize potential problems with plausibility. They serve as a safety net to ensure the accuracy and reliability of information.
10. What is the role of a lawyer? A lawyer has a very limited, but important, role during the asylum interview. His main duties are to serve as a witness and, if necessary, assist the applicant in correcting inaccuracies. He may ask the applicant questions to help clarify and summarize the story at the end of the interview. As a rule, the employee conducts an interview and makes decisions in accordance with the answers. The lawyer must make sure that the interview is conducted professionally by the employee, and also serves as support for the applicant.
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