Can I bring a witness with me to my asylum interview?

Asylum applicants are allowed to bring witnesses to the Asylum Office, which can be helpful if the person knows about and can describe the persecution you faced or other details about your asylum claim.

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Question

I am a citizen of Liberia who suffered terrible persecution in my country in 2003 during the civil war. I have recently arrived in the United States and live in a Liberian community. My asylum interview is in two weeks and I just met a woman from my village who witnessed some of the terrible things that happened to me in 2003. Can I bring her to the Asylum Office so she can testify in my case?

Answer

Asylum applicants are allowed to bring witnesses to the Asylum Office. You can consider bringing a witness if the person can testify about the harm you suffered or fear, or about other important parts of your asylum claim. See the "Affirmative Asylum Procedures Manual" at page 18.

Witnesses can be any age and can be in the United States with or without lawful immigration status. Witnesses can be family members or anyone who has firsthand knowledge of the story. The only people who cannot be witnesses are interpreters and representatives that the applicant brings to the asylum interview.

Since this woman can corroborate what happened to you in Liberia, it might be a good idea to have her testify at your interview. Make sure you discuss how she remembers the events and compare them to how you remember the events. If you don’t remember what happened in the same way, it may be better to not bring the witness.

It is possible that the asylum officer will not want to allow your witness to testify and may try to persuade you to give up your right to have your witness heard. If you believe your witness can help your case, you should consider asking that the officer hear the witness nonetheless.

The officer may ask that your witness submit a written affidavit instead of interviewing her. If so, you might ask the officer to note that your witness was available to give live testimony.

If the officer agrees to interview your witness, the interview will be done privately while you wait in the waiting room. After confirming the witness's identity, the officer will place her under oath and question her. The testimony notated by the officer will become part of your immigration record.

Consider consulting with an immigration lawyer if you have a witness to bring to the Asylum Office.

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