What to Do If You Can't Make Your Asylum Interview

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If you are not detained and you file your asylum application affirmatively with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you will receive an appointment notice that lists the date, time, and place for your asylum interview with a local Asylum Officer. The local USCIS Asylum Office will normally schedule your interview within 60 days of receiving your asylum application.

You personally must go to the interview. You cannot have your representative, a family member, or even your lawyer go to the interview instead of you. If you choose, you can have your lawyer go with you to the interview, as well as a translator if you are not comfortable in English.

Try your best to go to your asylum interview as scheduled. If you are unable to go at the specified time, you can request that the interview be rescheduled, but there are risks.

The Asylum Office will normally grant such requests, particularly if this is your first time seeking to reschedule your interview. However, there is a small chance that the Asylum Office will deny your request.  Then, you might be placed in removal proceedings (that is, your asylum case will be referred to the Immigration Court). Also, if you fail to appear to your asylum interview as scheduled, you will not be able to apply for employment authorization while your case is pending, unless you can explain to USCIS that you had a valid excuse for missing your interview.

There is a deadline for requesting to reschedule your interview. If you cannot go to your interview as scheduled, you should request a rescheduled interview date as soon as possible, and no later than 15 days after the date of your scheduled interview. If you do not contact your Asylum Office within that time, your case will be automatically referred to the Immigration Court if you do not have legal status in the U.S. (that is, you will be placed in removal proceedings).

If you do have a valid immigration status in the U.S. and you do not provide an explanation of why you missed your interview within 15 days after the date on which it was scheduled, your asylum case will be administratively closed. The Asylum Office Director might reschedule your interview instead of closing your case, but only if you provide a reasonable explanation for your failure to appear at the interview.

If you need to reschedule your asylum interview, you need to either (1) mail a letter to the Asylum Office where you were scheduled to go for your asylum interview, or (2) go to that Asylum Office in person to complete a form to request to reschedule the interview. Make sure to do this as soon as possible. At the latest, your request must be received by mail or made in person within 15 days after the scheduled interview date. 

When asking the Asylum Office to reschedule your interview, you will need to include the reason for your request. It will be helpful if you present evidence for your reason, such as a doctor's letter. The Asylum Office will generally reschedule your interview if it is the first time you are requesting a new interview date, especially if you make your request before the original interview date.

If you had already rescheduled your interview at least once or if you are making the request after the interview date has passed, you will need to explain that you have good reasons (“good cause”) to request rescheduling. To demonstrate good cause, you will have to show that you had a reasonable excuse for not being able to appear for your interview. Generally, the fact that your lawyer was not able to go with you to the interview does NOT constitute good cause.

The only time you will not have to provide an explanation for your rescheduling request is if the interview notice was not mailed to the current address you had provided to USCIS.

If your rescheduling request is granted, you will receive a notice several days before your new interview date. Typically, rescheduled interview dates are within a month or two after the original interview date.

 

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