Although the length of an asylum interview varies from case to case, it generally lasts at least one hour. The asylum officer affirms the applicant's identity, asks biographical questions and queries the applicant about reasons for the request for asylum, specifically determining if any official bars preclude granting the request.
Any information shared at the interview is confidential. Although the applicant may find it difficult to discuss traumatic experiences that provoked the asylum request, it is imperative that he be honest and forthright with the interviewer. Bars from grants of asylum that the interviewer asks about include safe residency in another country, the committing of serious crimes that pose danger to the United States and any direct or indirect involvement with terrorist activity.
To verify identity and biographical information, asylum applicants must bring to the interview original documents, such as passport, other identification and travel papers, birth and marriage certificates, Form I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal, and any other documents substantiating the asylum claim. Any documents in other languages must have certified translations in English. Anyone listed in the asylum application as derivatives, such as spouse and children, must accompany the applicant and also bring original personal documents. If the applicant does not speak English, he must provide a neutral competent interpreter at his own expense, or the interview is canceled. The applicant may bring an attorney or representative to the interview, although it is not mandatory.