At the Asylum Interview

Remember, you are not automatically entitled to recognition of your refugee status; you must convince the interviewer that you are a refugee under the terms of the Refugee Act.

The interview is your opportunity to tell your own, personal story about what happened to you in your home country and why you decided to come to Ireland. It is very important to be well prepared for it and to do it as well as possible.

Going to the Interview

You will receive a letter from the Department of Justice and Equality (DOJE) with the date of the interview. In most cases you will receive it approximately one month before the interview, but sometimes you can receive shorter notice.

It is very, very important, that you go to the interview.

If you absent yourself without reasonable cause, your case will be treated as abandoned. You can only be re-admitted into the asylum procedure if you have valid reasons for your non-attendance. If you fail to go on more than one occasion, the Refugee Applications Commissioner (RAC) will recommend that you should not be declared a refugee.

You have to go to your interview even if you have a minor illness.If you are seriously ill or cannot travel due to advanced pregnancy contact the Department of Justice and Equality (DOJ) immediately. Get a medical certificate (also known as a sick note) from a doctor and present it to them.

The Interview

The interview will be held in a small office. The only other people present will be the interviewer, and, if necessary, a translator.

Do not be afraid of the interviewer. Make eye contact and smile. Looking away from the interviewer, which is polite in some cultures, may be taken as a sign of evasiveness.

Give full information in reply to questions, not just ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answers. Feel free to have notes and to consult them for details as necessary.

Do not read out answers to questions, it creates the impression of having being coached.

Couples, whether married or unmarried, will be interviewed separately. This is usually on the same day but may be on different days.

The Department of Justice and Equality (DOJE) has nobody to look after your child during your interview. You may bring your child into the interview room, but we strongly advise you not to do this. Your child will distract you from the interview questions.

If you have any documents, such as birth or death certificates and references bring them with you. They can help to explain your case to the interviewer. Explain the reasons why you had to leave your country in as much detail as possible. Give exact dates when you speak about events and incidents.

Remember that credibility is very important. If you had good reason to tell lies or use false documents to travel out of your country of origin, it is better to reveal that fact, and explain the reasons for it to the interviewer.

If it emerges later that you deliberately concealed something relevant, your application could be treated as manifestly unfounded. A manifestly unfounded claim is defined as one where the decision maker is of the opinion that the claim is clearly fraudulent.

Typically interviews last between two and four hours.  It will not be hostile but it will be challenging. It can be a very emotional and difficult experience as it brings you back to a very difficult part of your life. Feel free to ask for a short break to recapture your thoughts, to drink a glass of water or go to the toilet.

You are legally entitled to an interpreter, but only if it is necessary and possible. The Department of Justice and Equality (DOJE) will arrange this. If the interpreter is not available you can refuse to continue. If you are not satisfied with the interpreter, you may refuse to continue the interview. This is better than continuing the interview with a misinterpretation of your story. The interview can be rescheduled if necessary.

While you speak, the interviewer takes notes of your story. At the end of the interview you are asked to sign each page of these notes to certify that this is an accurate record of what you said.

Take your time and read each page very, very carefully

Only sign the pages if you totally agree with the content of each page. If you do not agree with all the contents of the page, make this remark before you sign the page. Make sure that your objection is recorded on the page concerned.

If you are accompanied by an observer, this person is not allowed to speak during the interview. He or she can only take notes. After the interview the observer can then speak and make remarks about the conduct of the interview. For example the observer could indicate if the interview was not held fairly or if certain issues are not understood correctly.

After the interview you have seven working days to make written observations on the interview. It may be possible to submit additional information, such as newspaper cuttings that support your case, at this stage.

You may present additional documents to the Department of Justice and Equality (DOJE) at any time up to the appeal stage. If you want to bring forward additional information at the appeal stage, you will have to explain why this material was not available to the Refugee Applications Commissioner before the appeal hearing.