Will my asylum interview or court hearing be recorded?

Although no recordings are made, unless your case receives immediate approval, your confidentiality is not guaranteed through the entire asylum application process.

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Question

I am a former Bosnian diplomat who left my country in fear of persecution. My case is very sensitive because of my former position with my government and because a current Bosnian government official will be a witness at my interview. Will the Asylum Officer record the interview?

Answer

Asylum interviews take place in private offices behind closed doors. Typically, asylum interviews consist of the officer, the applicant, any interpreter, and any legal representative. Occasionally, supervisory asylum officers will observe the interview to make sure that the Asylum Officer is doing a proper job. Witnesses will be interviewed separately from the applicant, under similar conditions. If you have a lawyer or accredited representative, he or she will be able to stay in the room while the officer is interviewing your witness.

Asylum interviews are not recorded. Officers do take notes, and these notes become part of the official immigration record, along with any documents you have submitted, your asylum application, and any reports added to the file by the officer.

Officers will run security checks, the results of which will be added to the record, as well country condition reports. The officer will also take notes during the time he or she is interviewing your witness. These notes also become part of your immigration record.

Immigration court, however, is another matter. If the officer does not grant your case and refers you to an immigration judge, your hearing will be recorded. The recording will become part of your immigration file as well.

If the judge does not grant asylum and you choose to appeal the decision to the Board of Immigration Appeals and/or to a Federal Court of Appeals, you can get a written transcript of the recording. You can use this transcript to help you prepare your appeal.

Also, since you seem concerned about the confidentiality of your asylum claim, you should know that federal courts that handle appeals of asylum cases sometimes use a person’s name in the decision. Some of these decisions are published, and therefore accessible by any interested person.

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