After filing for asylum, you will be given an asylum interview roughly 30-45 days later. The interview is by far the most important part of the asylum application process. It is your opportunity to tell the asylum officer your story and tell the officer why you deserve asylum in the United States. You can take your asylum attorney to the interview. Legally, it is allowed. Some would even recommend it. As an asylum lawyer, |
I generally do not recommend it. Why? The asylum interview fairly straightforward interview with little complexities when it comes to the formalities and procedures. However, the human aspect of an asylum interview is extremely complex and often times overlooked by many asylum attorneys. What do I mean by human aspect? An asylum interview is conducted by an asylum officer. Usually, asylum officers are not asylum attorneys or judges. They are ordinary people who are very knowledgeable on asylum law and asylum regulations. I mention this so that potential applicants for asylum know that they will be dealing with someone who does not necessarily have the legal mindset of a judge or attorney.
The interview is very informal and relaxed. It is not like court where an asylum lawyer presents a case to a judge on your behalf. You sit down in a small office with 1 asylum officer and the officer begin to ask you questions about your background. They are not trying to trick you and they are not trying embarrass you. The asylum officer’s job is to figure out whether or not you faced or will face persecution in your home country. Some feel that an asylum attorney will be able to help them. Others feel more secure with an asylum attorney. Although both may be true, more damage can be done with an asylum attorney at the interview than good. Asylum officers have egos just like everyone. When you bring your big bag lawyer to the interview, you automatically put a barrier between you and the asylum officer.
The barrier being your asylum lawyer. Your job in the interview is to tell your story and connect with the asylum officer. If you have a great case but you are not able to connect with the asylum officer on an emotional and deeper level, the asylum officer will likely not understand your pain and suffering and they will likely deny your case. If you go to the asylum interview without an asylum attorney, the experience becomes more personal and more connected. You and the asylum officer will speak with each other and make eye contact with each other. With an asylum lawyer in the room, you divide the asylum officers attention between you and the attorney, making less of a connection with you individually. Finally, the asylum lawyer cannot do much other than explain things and say things if the asylum officer allows it. They should not argue aggressively for your case because they asylum officer will doubt the validity of your claim and wonder why you need a lawyer to argue for you. Generally, if you have a real asylum claim and it is a good one, you should be able to describe your case on your own because you are the one who faced or will face the persecution. If not absolutely necessary, I would advice to attend your asylum interview without an asylum attorney or translator. Each case is different and you should always consult with your asylum lawyer before making a decision.
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