Basics of an Asylum Claim (Part 5)

Author: Joseph P. Murphy, Esq., Allegheny Immigration Group

Release Date: 12/25/2019 (YouTube)

Author’s Statement:

This is part 5 of a transcription of my video on asylum which you can see here. If you or someone you care about is, or is in contact with someone who may have a legitimate asylum claim, please call my office at (412)521-2000 or my cell at (412)973-3442. You can also email me at jmurphy@jmurphyfirm.com. Please visit, like and share the Allegheny Immigration Group Facebook page and the Allegheny Immigration Group Youtube Channel.

When your case gets “Called”

The cases get called by the last four digits of the alien registration number. It is usually the three numbers. But if two people have same last three digits, they call for the last four digits. They don’t call by the people’s last name. The last name can be Hussein or something like that or somebody in another clan heard their name yelled out. Hence the last four digits of your alien registration number are used to call you. Keep these numbers in mind so that when called you respond quickly. Once called, the asylum officer there will see your case. A bit of formal chitchat is fine. But don’t get into schmoozing with the asylum officer. It is not only your waste of time but you might also give the impression of a manipulative personality type. And that could, in theory, have an adverse effect on the officers determining your credibility. The pleasant conversation is normal. But don’t get into talks while expressing how nervous you are. This won’t work in your favor. So, I strongly encourage against that.

The asylum officers who work there are amazing. I have worked with some of the officers and bureaucrats. Some of them are great and some of them are less than par. But the people doing these asylum cases are bright, smart, insightful, thoughtful, and really great though always overworked. It takes years of practice to get a case for them even though you are going the case 45 days after filling the application. I have been patient with the asylum officer as I know how messed up and overworked they are. As they are really nice and good people, I have always felt proud to work with them.

After meeting the officer and normal pleasantries, you go through a door on the side of the asylum office waiting area, where there is a long curving hall you have to walk in, past many desks with people typing. On the right side of the hall, it is a curving to the left. The tables on the right are actual individual offices. Ultimately you will be in an office with the asylum officer. These asylum officers are officers of the United States. But they are not police officers. There are many people who are afraid of police, sometimes rightfully so. I am not commenting on that. So, when they tell you that they are Officer Jenkins, there is nothing to be scared of. Ultimately you will get to that office of the officer, you sit down. The officer is actually going to explain to you. They are taking what you say down, they are typing it into a computer as you speak and in many cases they are looking over the computer while you are talking and this can be very off-putting and difficult. Most people are used to taking visual cues and communications from the person’s face to see if they are understanding or agreeing or skeptical, that’s how communication normally flow between people. So that can be little bit confusing or discomforting that the asylum officer isn’t looking at you at all, They are looking at where they are typing into boxes of the screen. Don’t take that personally as that’s just the procedure. The information that you give, even if your case is ultimately denied will be used by the government to understand the country's condition in the other parts of the world. On that point, don’t hold things back. Don’t add or embellish. There can be many even embarrassing things in the asylum claim. I have even heard of barbarism around the world. So, tell them everything, even if your claim is not approved, the information gets into the federal bureaucracy and can be used in evaluating in future claims, contracts, conditions and things of that nature. That is the reason you will find them asking and prompting you during the interview saying “anything else” repeatedly. As they are aware that people often hold things back or might not give out all the information right away, they try to prompt you so that they can get as much information as possible. However, this won’t mean that what you have said is not enough. If you have said everything, then don’t add anything more just because they are prompting. If you have more to say, say that as it will not just support your claim but will also help someone from the same country or in the same predicament.

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Right after the repeal of DOMA, Joe represented me and my partner on one of Pennsylvania's first immigration cases based on same sex marriage. It was new at the time, and we weren't really sure it would work, Joe reassured us and explained how and why I had the right to file for a green card for my partner - and he made every word he told me come true. The green card was issued about 5 months later. M.M.