Do I have to bring my young children with me to the Asylum Office for my interview?

Your children will need to come to the interview location, but you should arrange for someone to look after them in the waiting room during your actual interview.

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Question

I am a citizen of Afghanistan, living alone in the U.S. with my five children under the age of 12. I have listed them all as dependents on my asylum application. Do I have to bring all my children with me to my asylum interview? Will they be questioned?

Answer

Every dependent included on your asylum application must be seen and identified by the Asylum Officer who conducts your interview. The officer will probably call you and your children into the private office where the interview will take place in order to identify each of your children. Make sure you bring any identity documents you have for your children, including any passports, birth certificates or national identity cards.

Once the officer identifies each of your children he or she will most likely suggest that your children wait for you in the waiting room while you are being interviewed. For that reason, it is a good idea to bring a friend with you who can either take the children for a walk or wait with them in the waiting room.

The officer may give you the option of keeping the children with you during the interview. If so, seriously consider having the children sit in the waiting room regardless. It will be difficult enough to explain to the officer why you left your country and why you don’t want to go back. The more detail you provide to the officer the better the chance that he or she will understand your claim.

Having your children with you during your interview rarely works in your favor, since there may be details that you do not want your children to hear. You also want to be free to express yourself emotionally during your interview and may not want your children to see you in that state.

Asylum Officers rarely want to speak with dependent children. If an officer does want to speak with your child, you can request that you remain in the room during that part of the interview.

If you have hired an immigration attorney to help with your asylum claim, you should consider asking the attorney to come to the interview. The attorney should stay with you during your interview and not be the person watching your children in the waiting room.

by: , J.D., LL.M.

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