If the Asylum Officer refers my case to Immigration Court, will I be given the exact reason?

If your asylum application is not granted, you will be told the basic reason, and perhaps some details, too.

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I was born in Tibet and crossed into Nepal by foot. I arrived in the United States using a fraudulent Nepalese passport. I have no documents. If after my asylum interview, I am not granted, but am instead referred to an Immigration Judge, will I be told why?


Asylum applicants are generally asked to return to the Asylum Office two weeks after the interview to pick up the asylum decision. At that time, you will speak with an asylum clerk, who will explain whether you were granted asylum or referred to Immigration Court.

If you are granted asylum, you will be instructed on how to obtain work authorization and told that you have won the right to remain and to work lawfully in the United States.

If, on the other hand, the officer did not grant you asylum, you will be given a Notice to Appear in Immigration Court (an "NTA"). The clerk will explain that you must appear in court and show you the time and date, which will be on the Notice to Appear.

If you are referred to an Immigration Judge you will also receive a Referral Notice. This is the letter written by the Asylum Officer explaining why you are being referred.

The referral notice might include any or all of the following reasons:

  • You did not file your asylum claim within one year of your most recent entry into the United States.
  • Your testimony was not credible.
  • Your did not either experience persecution in the past or have a well founded fear of future persecution.
  • You are barred from receiving asylum (see Nolo’s articles about “Bars to Receiving Asylum or Refugee Status”).

The Referral Notice is brief and usually not detailed. It will, however, state the general reason why you were not granted asylum. Some officers provide more detail than others. This depends on the officer.

If your attorney accompanied you to your asylum interview, he or she should have taken notes detailing the questions the officer asked and how you answered them. Your attorney should be able to use these notes along with the referral notice to better explain why you were referred to the judge, and help you prepare for the court date accordingly.

If you don’t have an attorney helping you, hiring one now, particularly if you’re concerned about the strength of your case, might be a good idea.

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