This guide explores tips and techniques to win your asylum case and remain in the United States as an asylee, eventually receiving a green card.
Tip 1: Be truthful in your application
In order to win your political asylum case, you must pass the interview stage with an asylum officer. The officer usually bases his questions upon your statements in the application. If you're telling the truth, you should have no trouble in the interview because you will be able to answer the officer's questions honestly and completely and with detail.
If you lie on your application because you think it gives you a better chance for success, you are more likely to lose your case. Why? Officers are extensively trained to detect liars and extensively trained to listen for inconsistencies in the interview. If you lie on your application, you're much more likely to make mistakes in the interview--contradictions and a lack of detail. Finally, if the officer finds that you have lied on you application, you can be deported without any chance of ever coming back. It's not worth it.
Tip 2: Know your application
You need to know your application perfectly--the story, the details, the dates, the names, what happened and when. The officer will dig into your statement very deeply. Even if you're telling the truth, if you don't know the details, you will lose. One of the ways officers are trained to spot a liar is lack of detail in the statement and the interview.
Additionally, you need to know your address, phone number, family, and all the other biographical questions on the application. The officer will go over them one by one, checking them off with a red pen. If you don't know some of the biographical information, the officer is likely to drill you on that piece of information. So, know it. Know all the details in your application.
Tip 3: Details make the difference
As I said above, know your application and know the details in the application. An example of what officers like to ask is, "What happened on September 25?" Or, "Why are you afraid to go back to your home country?" Or, "Who was Mr. Wang?" Or, "Describe the jail cell in detail. What was there?" You can never give too much detail as long as you keep your answers somewhat short and to the point.
Here are acceptable answers with plenty of detail--"Mr. Wang was our local family planning official. He came to my home on several occasions including the day I was forcibly taken to the hospital. Mr. Wang came to my home on several occasions before that. I remember he was driving a small black car because I saw it from inside my home. It was strange, he was dressed very casually for an official visit. That's what I remember about him."
Make sure you know and remember all the details of your statement and your application. My suggestion is to practice several times with your attorney. I do this with my clients, and it makes a big difference.
Tip 4: Hire an attorney
I've heard many potential clients say, "I've heard we should not hire an attorney because it looks like we have something to hide. " That could not be further from the truth. Hiring an attorney knowledgeable about asylum can be the best money you'll ever spend. I like to say, "You only have one chance, so don't take chances with your future."
Lawyers can guide you through your statement and help you write it in an understandable way with the appropriate amount of detail. Your lawyer can give you interview training so that you are prepared for what is to come. Your lawyer will usually go with you to the interview and make a short statement at the end telling the officer why you should be granted political asylum. Your lawyer will make sure the interview goes well and he will see that the officer conducts the interview in a non-aggressive way.
Find the best attorney you can afford, they range in price. But remember, you get what you pay for. Beware of extremely low priced attorneys or agents that claim to know what they are doing. Just do the best you can afford. I allow my clients to make two payments instead of 1 up front. If you need to, ask your attorney if he will accept that method.
Tip 5: If you don't know, say it
During your interview, there will be a few questions to which you don't know the answer. Don't worry, this is common. The officer wants to see how you handle yourself. Do you make an effort to answer a question that most people couldn't, or do you just say the magic words, "I'm not sure." or "I don't know."
Sometimes you don't know because you don't understand the question. There can be language barriers between you and the officer or between you and the translator and the officer. If you don't know because you don't understand, ASK. It's ok to say, "I don't understand." I practice this with my clients--purposely having a language issue so the client gets comfortable speaking to the officer, asking him to clarify the question.
Additional resources provided by the author
For more information about asylum, please see the links below. If you can't understand some of the information, call your lawyer.
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