What if I submit a false document with my asylum application?

Chances are high that you will be caught if you submit a fraudulent document, and your lie could put your entire asylum application at risk.

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Question

I am from Ghana, where I was a political activist. I was arrested many times and was threatened with death. I fled my country with no documents except for my passport. The African people in my New York community said I had to prove I was an activist and sold me a fake membership card for my political party. Should I submit this card with my asylum application?

Answer

It can be very tempting to submit fraudulent documents when you don’t have any real ones. It is especially confusing when other people in your community insist that it is the right thing to do. However, it is never a good idea to submit fake documents, especially if you have an otherwise good asylum claim.

Asylum Officers are very good at examining documents to tell whether they are real or fake. Asylum Officers are also trained to ask questions that will tell them whether the documents you submit are real or not.

An officer who is unsure about any document you submit may take your document and send it for a forensics examination. This means that a documents expert will closely examine the document and be able to tell whether it is real. If the document proves to be fraudulent, it will be very difficult for you to convince the officer that the rest of your story is truthful.

The rule that deals with submitting documents is called the Real ID Act. (See I.N.A. Section 208(b)(1)(B)(ii).)

The Real ID Act says that you must provide evidence that corroborates your testimony unless you don’t have any such evidence and cannot reasonably obtain it. When you don’t have any documents, your detailed, consistent, and plausible testimony should be enough for an officer to make a decision on your case. (See Matter of S-M-J-, 21 I&N Dec 722 (BIA 1997).)

It is possible that an officer will ask you about your lack of documentation. You should answer honestly, and explain why the document is unavailable. Asylum Officers know that some refugees have no time to gather or obtain documents before leaving their country. They also know it might be dangerous for someone in your situation to carry this type of evidence. It is a better idea to explain to the officer why you don’t have a document rather than submit a fraudulent one.

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