Should I admit to the asylum officer that I entered the U.S on someone else's passport?

Fraudulent use of a passport will not necessarily bar you from asylum, but be sure to emphasize that your purpose was to flee persecution in your country.

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Question

I am from Jamaica, where I was beaten because I am homosexual. I used someone else’s passport to enter the United States because I could not get a visa. I got a passport from the Jamaican embassy after I got here. Should I tell the officer how I entered?

Answer

Anyone who is physically in the United States can ask for asylum. This includes people who have entered the country unlawfully using someone else’s passport. A person’s fraudulent mode of entry does not exclude him or her from being eligible for asylum.

The main criteria for asylum eligibility is whether you have suffered persecution in the past or fear persecution in the future on account of your race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion. The asylum officer who conducts your interview (after you have submitted your application) will ask you about your trip to the United States and how you entered.

You should answer the officer’s questions honestly. In many cases, the fact that a person found a way to escape their country after trying to come lawfully supports a story of persecution. It shows that you were desperate to flee.

Another reason to be honest is that everything said and submitted during the asylum process will stay in your file and can be used by officers and judges to check the truthfulness of your claim. The officer will have you swear or affirm an oath so that everything you say must be the truth. So getting caught in a lie is a possibility, and not a risk worth taking.

The important thing to remember is to testify in detail about why you entered the United States using someone else’s passport. It is also a good idea to bring your actual passport to the interview so that the officer can verify your identity.

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