If you are not detained and you file your asylum application affirmatively with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you will eventually receive an appointment notice that lists the date, time, and place for your asylum interview at one of eight USCIS Asylum Offices. The wait for such an interview is very short for those just applying as of a 2018 Trump Administration scheduling policy, but can be around two to three years for people who applied earlier than that.
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 attend with you, as well as a translator if you are not comfortable conversing in English. Try your best to go to your asylum interview as scheduled.
However, if you are unable to go at the specified date and time, you can request that the interview be rescheduled. If you are sick with any contagious illness, USCIS definitely prefers you cancel the appointment, for others' sake.
USCIS currently prioritizes who it calls for asylum interviews based on three categories, from those served first to last:
Given how long you might wait for an interview, it is understandable if you are unable to make it once the date is finally set. If this is your first request to reschedule your interview and you submit your request in writing prior to the date of the interview, the Asylum Office will grant your rescheduling request. You will likely be given the next available interview date, since your application now falls into the first priority of asylum cases being scheduled.
If you need to reschedule your asylum interview, you must either mail a letter to the Asylum Office where you were scheduled to go for your asylum interview or 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 date the interview was supposed to happen.
If you do not make your rescheduling request until the date of your interview or 15 days thereafter, or if this is your second or third request to reschedule, you must provide information showing that you have a "good cause" reason for needing to postpone. Good cause could include any number of reasons, such as an illness, a death in the family, or an inability to travel to the Asylum Office on the date of your interview. 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 most recently provided to USCIS.
When asking the Asylum Office to reschedule your interview, include the reason for your request. It will be helpful if you present evidence for your reason, such as a doctor's letter.
If you do have 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 have no legal status in the U.S., your case will be referred to the Immigration Court, where you will have to present your case for asylum (and any other defenses you might have) in removal (deportation) proceedings.
If your rescheduling request is granted, you will receive a notice about four weeks before your new interview date. Typically, rescheduled interview dates are within a month or two after the original interview date.