I panicked and didn't go to my asylum interview. Now what?

You can ask for a reschedule, but act quickly, before your case gets referred to Immigration Court.

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Question

I am an undocumented citizen of Bolivia and I’ve been very nervous about my asylum interview. I was so nervous that I had an anxiety attack and didn’t go. That was 18 days ago. What happens now?

Answer

Asylum applicants who do not appear for their interviews have a window of opportunity to ask for a second chance to be interviewed. The asylum officer will wait 45 days from the date you missed your interview before making a decision on your case.

If the asylum office has not heard from you by then, the officer will mail a “referral notice for failure to appear” and a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court. In other words, you will be put in removal proceedings and have to see an Immigration Judge.

Since it has been only 18 days since you missed your interview, you can ask the asylum office to reschedule your case. As long as you explain that you had a “good cause” to miss your first interview, the asylum officer should agree to this. Particularly if you’ve never asked the asylum office to reschedule your case, there is a good chance that it will do so this time. It is a good idea to submit any evidence you have explaining why you missed your interview, such as a doctor’s note or even an affidavit about why you were so anxious.

It is important that you ask for a new interview date as soon as possible. If you wait until 46 or more days have passed since the date of your missed interview, you will have to prove that there was an “exceptional reason” why you did not show up. This will be more difficult to prove and there is a greater chance that the asylum office will not reschedule you.

If you do not ask the asylum office to reschedule your case, or if the officer denies your request to reschedule, you should expect to find yourself in Immigration Court. On your hearing date, you can ask the Immigration Judge for asylum.

An immigration lawyer can help you request that your asylum interview be rescheduled.

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