Will My Asylum File Be Kept Secret?

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

In particularly sensitive asylum cases, applicants may understandably concerned about whether their home government or other persecutors will find out what they said. It's natural to ask questions like, will the Asylum Office or court record the interview? When will my name be publicly available? Does the U.S. government do anything to protect my confidentiality?

What Records Are Made of Asylum Interviews

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.

Asylum 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.

What Records Are Made of Asylum Cases in Immigration and Federal Court

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. Your appeal will likely be only on paper, with your lawyer writing legal arguments on your behalf.

You should know, however, 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. This may present a risk to you if you are trying to keep your asylum application in the U.S. entirely secret.

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