Asylee N-400 Interview Experiences and 2009 Tracker

LolaLi

Active Member
#1
Hi All,

Sorry for the delay in posting about my experience.

As some of you know, I filed in August 2007 and got stuck in the front-log, and was unable to do my finger prints until December 2007. However, luckily, my interview was scheduled right away for March 2008.

In Buffalo, we do not have same day oath, so I knew going in that I would not be sworn in the same day. I did know however, that I would get the oath notice right away (on the spot) if I passed, because they hold ceremonies every 2 weeks.

My interview was on a Thursday afternoon (for 2pm), but I ended up waiting there until 3.15pm. I was the last person to be called in, and my IO was an elderly African American lady. She took me into her office and introduced herself. Then she swore me in.

Before I could sit down, she asked to see my driver's license, green card and national passport. It was at this point that I gently reminded her that I am an asylee and do not have a national passport, and I proceeded to hand her my re-entry permit. She thanked me for giving her the travel document, and the interview began. Right away, she looked at my green card and compared it with the information on my driver's license.

She basically went through the entire application - line by line - some times asking me the exact same questions and other times just simply paraphrasing. She would check off each item in red ink when she was satisfied with my response. In the middle of the interview, she paused and without notice started the 10 history test questions and stopped after I answered first 6 correctly. She asked me to read a sentence off a piece of paper and had me write a simple sentence on the same paper. The she told me I passed the reading, writing, and history portion and had me sign the paper.

We resumed to the N-400 where she began asking me about my work history. She asked me for my entire work history and wanted to go beyond the 5 years written on the application. I think she wanted to compare this with my I-485 application as I could see her flipping to it. Then she looked through my travel document (every single page) and asked me if I have ever traveled internationally. I told her aside from trips to Canada (which I listed) I have never been out of the US. She stressed again if I went back to my COP - to which I said no. She asked me how I got my status again, and asked me how come I didn't have a passport....then how did I enter the country the first time? I told her I entered without documents. She seemed satisfied with that response.

She then asked me if I have ever been in deportation proceedings and I told her that since I filed for asylum and was referred to a judge, I was technically placed in deportation proceedings. The judge gave me my asylum and removed me from deportation proceedings. She was unfamiliar with whether or not that should mean we mark 'yes' for that question. So she got up and asked a colleague. She came back an told me that it doesn't but that she will make a note in the application that I was awarded asylum by an immigration judge.

She quickly glanced through my marriage status and asked me if my wife was in the US and if my daughter was born here - to which I answered yes. It was after all in the application! My wife's status in the US did not come up. And then she went back to my work and education section and commented on how they overlap - to which I explained I went to night school while working full time. I think that surprised/impressed her that I completed undergrad and graduate school while working full time. I don't know why that is so surprising considering we have come to the US to better our lives and escape persecution.

Finally she made me sign my pictures with my regular signature and sign the application as well. She gave me the form that I have been recommended for approval but she would need to run my case through her supervisor since they do not get alot of asylee and refugee applicants. I think I was one of the few that did not get the oath letter the same day. She told me I should expect my oath letter in the mail within 10 days, and you know what? I got it exactly 11 days later and was sworn in a few days after that.

All in all, if you are an asylee and you have stayed within the rules, everything should be okay. They do focus more on us because we aren't common and they want to make sure they aren't bestowing citizenship easily. Also, your trips overseas might come up. Just be honest and up front and everything will be okay.

Hope this helps you guys and sorry for the delay in getting it out to you.
 
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InQ4GC

Registered Users (C)
#4
Asylee Citizenship Interview Experience Re COP

This forum made me sleep better on many nights and told me what to expect at every step. Nothing was a surprise from Asylum to US Passport.

Waited many many years and got my Asylum I485 approved in 2002. Applied N400 in Aug 07, FP in Jan 08, Citizenship interview in April 08 and got my Oath in May 08. Applied for passport routine service at the oath ceremony and got my passport in 9 days. My online status still shows my case pending since Oct 2007 !!

The interview was taken by an officer who had good country specific knowledge of my COP. The officer had a thick file which had every application I ever sent to INS/BCIS/USCIS in Nebraska. He went thru my asylum application in detail and asked me several questions on whether I was ever arrested, any organization I joined in COP, whether I had visited my COP and what was my last date of visit to COP. When I said I never went to COP and my last date was in 1997 sometime the officer said "then its no problem" and went thru my N400 application and I was done in 10 min from that point. All the questioning and concerns were about my old presence in COP and whether I ever visited after my asylum application. My passport was seen in detail and he was comparing it to a printout of some sort in the file. While giving me a congratulation letter he said my file is being sent to an supervisor for review as it was an asylum case. My oath letter came 15 days later than other family members who gave interview on same date. All of us were interviewed by different officers at the same time in different rooms.

During last several years I have met several people who had applied for asylum and we kept in touch. All of them had similar experience in Citizenship interview about COP. DUI, Misdemenors in Traffic were also problems that some faced.

Visiting COP is a bad idea and I would advise you not to unless it is an emergency because it will come up and you will have to give a logical reason for your visits. During my citizenship interview I realized how vulnerable we are even with GC if it was thru asylum. The GC can be cancelled anytime if fraud is suspected.

My experience with USCIS has been very good and everyone was very efficient and helpful when I called or met or gave interview. Every file is unique and every officer has a lot of discretionary powers so time lines can be a little different.

Thanks to all of you who ever posted anything as feedback whatever it is is very helpful. Thanks to Rajeev for this free servive....Highly Appreciated.

NB: If you feel your timeline has many different results on the forum call USCIS and insist to be connected to an IO. The CSR who picks up initial calls when you call USCIS are all civilian employees who have the same access to info you see online. The IO can read the actual file and tell you current status and resend lost or misplaced letters etc. Patience is the key !!
 

thankful

Registered Users (C)
#5
This forum made me sleep better on many nights and told me what to expect at every step. Nothing was a surprise from Asylum to US Passport.

Waited many many years and got my Asylum I485 approved in 2002. Applied N400 in Aug 07, FP in Jan 08, Citizenship interview in April 08 and got my Oath in May 08. Applied for passport routine service at the oath ceremony and got my passport in 9 days. My online status still shows my case pending since Oct 2007 !!

The interview was taken by an officer who had good country specific knowledge of my COP. The officer had a thick file which had every application I ever sent to INS/BCIS/USCIS in Nebraska. He went thru my asylum application in detail and asked me several questions on whether I was ever arrested, any organization I joined in COP, whether I had visited my COP and what was my last date of visit to COP. When I said I never went to COP and my last date was in 1997 sometime the officer said "then its no problem" and went thru my N400 application and I was done in 10 min from that point. All the questioning and concerns were about my old presence in COP and whether I ever visited after my asylum application. My passport was seen in detail and he was comparing it to a printout of some sort in the file. While giving me a congratulation letter he said my file is being sent to an supervisor for review as it was an asylum case. My oath letter came 15 days later than other family members who gave interview on same date. All of us were interviewed by different officers at the same time in different rooms.

During last several years I have met several people who had applied for asylum and we kept in touch. All of them had similar experience in Citizenship interview about COP. DUI, Misdemenors in Traffic were also problems that some faced.

Visiting COP is a bad idea and I would advise you not to unless it is an emergency because it will come up and you will have to give a logical reason for your visits. During my citizenship interview I realized how vulnerable we are even with GC if it was thru asylum. The GC can be cancelled anytime if fraud is suspected.

My experience with USCIS has been very good and everyone was very efficient and helpful when I called or met or gave interview. Every file is unique and every officer has a lot of discretionary powers so time lines can be a little different.

Thanks to all of you who ever posted anything as feedback whatever it is is very helpful. Thanks to Rajeev for this free servive....Highly Appreciated.

NB: If you feel your timeline has many different results on the forum call USCIS and insist to be connected to an IO. The CSR who picks up initial calls when you call USCIS are all civilian employees who have the same access to info you see online. The IO can read the actual file and tell you current status and resend lost or misplaced letters etc. Patience is the key !!
congratulations and I am happy for you.
 

LolaLi

Active Member
#7
Congrats InQ4GC! I too just posted my interview/citizenship experience.

It seems that they are systematic in how they deal with asylees and refugess in regards to determining if we have ever visited the COP. I'm glad our experiences were somewhat similar as it points to all the things I always said about visiting the COP.
 

LolaLi

Active Member
#8
Interesting and thank you for the update. It really boils down to the interviewer.
Not necessarily. I think our status will always come up and then the question about traveling internationally and to the COP will follow. Especially after reading InQ4GC's experience, I am convinced now that those who don't get asked about the COP are the ones that aren't the norm.

We'll wait to see what others say as they go through the process.
 

shefe

Registered Users (C)
#9
Yes, let us wait majority on this forum are going to become US citizen bet 2009 and 2010.. I still see it has it depends on the officer because during my asylum interview in 2005, she asked me where did i renew my NP and i said with the NY consulate, i know she went out and probably when to make copies of it or something and she returned back and gave me the NP, 2 weeks later i picked up my asylum approval.
 

InQ4GC

Registered Users (C)
#10
Citizenship Interview

wow!!! what a pleasure to see an old familiar name. Hope all is well with you and congratulations. Thank you for updating us.
Hi Gilbert your name brings back many old memories for me....How are you doing?

I had not expected my asylum file to be reviewed so much in detail for my citizenship interview especially on the COP issue. I guess it depends on the government policies and internal memos these officers get on what to look for or what to check. A lot depends on the officer too as my officer had very good knowledge of my COP and mentioned a few things that were currently happening with regards to somethings on my file. But he was very courteous and helpful. The fact that a supervisor has to review and sign off on asylum cases is also something to think about.
 

Gilbert

Active Member
#11
Hi Gilbert your name brings back many old memories for me....How are you doing?

I had not expected my asylum file to be reviewed so much in detail for my citizenship interview especially on the COP issue. I guess it depends on the government policies and internal memos these officers get on what to look for or what to check. A lot depends on the officer too as my officer had very good knowledge of my COP and mentioned a few things that were currently happening with regards to somethings on my file. But he was very courteous and helpful. The fact that a supervisor has to review and sign off on asylum cases is also something to think about.
Life is good. We first "talked" here like six years ago. Glad that we all made it.
 

aanl

Registered Users (C)
#13
This forum made me sleep better on many nights and told me what to expect at every step. Nothing was a surprise from Asylum to US Passport.

Waited many many years and got my Asylum I485 approved in 2002. Applied N400 in Aug 07, FP in Jan 08, Citizenship interview in April 08 and got my Oath in May 08. Applied for passport routine service at the oath ceremony and got my passport in 9 days. My online status still shows my case pending since Oct 2007 !!

The interview was taken by an officer who had good country specific knowledge of my COP. The officer had a thick file which had every application I ever sent to INS/BCIS/USCIS in Nebraska. He went thru my asylum application in detail and asked me several questions on whether I was ever arrested, any organization I joined in COP, whether I had visited my COP and what was my last date of visit to COP. When I said I never went to COP and my last date was in 1997 sometime the officer said "then its no problem" and went thru my N400 application and I was done in 10 min from that point. All the questioning and concerns were about my old presence in COP and whether I ever visited after my asylum application. My passport was seen in detail and he was comparing it to a printout of some sort in the file. While giving me a congratulation letter he said my file is being sent to an supervisor for review as it was an asylum case. My oath letter came 15 days later than other family members who gave interview on same date. All of us were interviewed by different officers at the same time in different rooms.

During last several years I have met several people who had applied for asylum and we kept in touch. All of them had similar experience in Citizenship interview about COP. DUI, Misdemenors in Traffic were also problems that some faced.

Visiting COP is a bad idea and I would advise you not to unless it is an emergency because it will come up and you will have to give a logical reason for your visits. During my citizenship interview I realized how vulnerable we are even with GC if it was thru asylum. The GC can be cancelled anytime if fraud is suspected.

My experience with USCIS has been very good and everyone was very efficient and helpful when I called or met or gave interview. Every file is unique and every officer has a lot of discretionary powers so time lines can be a little different.

Thanks to all of you who ever posted anything as feedback whatever it is is very helpful. Thanks to Rajeev for this free servive....Highly Appreciated.

NB: If you feel your timeline has many different results on the forum call USCIS and insist to be connected to an IO. The CSR who picks up initial calls when you call USCIS are all civilian employees who have the same access to info you see online. The IO can read the actual file and tell you current status and resend lost or misplaced letters etc. Patience is the key !!
InQ4GC, have you ever renewed your COP passport?
 

kalvar

Registered Users (C)
#14
I had been waiting for this post for a while now. Seems like the COP issue is part of their routine for asylees.

Thanks anyways and Congratulations!!
 

cafeconleche

Registered Users (C)
#15
Congratulations LoLaLi! I must say that I've been under the impression that you're female because of your screenname (Lola?). Sorry for that. But, this international travel thing is interesting. I'm an asylee, and I've never been back to my COP, but I have been abroad to Europe A LOT. Is that going to be a problem (apart from the time spent outside the US and the continuous residence part)?
 

LolaLi

Active Member
#16
Congratulations LoLaLi! I must say that I've been under the impression that you're female because of your screenname (Lola?). Sorry for that. But, this international travel thing is interesting. I'm an asylee, and I've never been back to my COP, but I have been abroad to Europe A LOT. Is that going to be a problem (apart from the time spent outside the US and the continuous residence part)?
Thanks okay cafeconleche - those who know me on here know that my wife created the user ID and I kind of "took over". (I was too lazy to create my own ID.)

You know your unique situation has come to my mind several times as we discussed various things, and I can most certainly tell you that most officers have not experienced your situation - an asylee who is also an international student. That in itself means you'll probably get some questions and that you should be prepared. I think you need to clearly document your trips and save as much evidence as possible - particularly regarding your return and stay in the USA. You should also continue to maintain the intent to continuously reside in the US for the duration you are abroad. I know you are overseas for school, so make sure you keep records of that - especially ones proving this was temporary in nature. Also keep all your RTDs.

I don't think they object to international travel - but they ask for the list of countries to ascertain whether or not you've been back to the COP. For example, visiting a neighboring country may cause a red flag to go up since it is easy for someone to sneak across the border to their COP. So they look for those kinds of things.

I don't know your particulars - regarding how long you've been out in the 5 years of residency, so its hard to tell you if you will get "caught up" in residency issues. If you are close to the time line, I would strongly suggest you wait a few more months after you permanently come back before applying for citizenship. You should not apply for citizenship until your school work abroad is complete and your back here for go - that much I can tell you.
 

cafeconleche

Registered Users (C)
#17
Yeah, I'll be done next year, and won't be applying until after I get a job and settle down a bit. I have tonnes of paperwork already, and I know I'll have to explain myself a LOT during my application process. I was just curious if traveling as an asylee is a problem in general. My COP is a long way away from Europe.
 

LolaLi

Active Member
#18
Yeah, I'll be done next year, and won't be applying until after I get a job and settle down a bit. I have tonnes of paperwork already, and I know I'll have to explain myself a LOT during my application process. I was just curious if traveling as an asylee is a problem in general. My COP is a long way away from Europe.
No - your traveling to Europe should not affect your asylee status in US. And traveling in general is not a problem either.
 

InQ4GC

Registered Users (C)
#19
NP Renewal

InQ4GC, have you ever renewed your COP passport?
Asylee has not renewed NP but some others in family with derivative asylum status had renewed their NP. RTD is lots of money, short validity and too much waiting. All of us were asked and checked at our citizenship interview for any visit to COP. Renewal of PP was not a issue I felt as long as you did not visit COP. My advise unless you really have a great advantage or some big emergency do not renew NP or visit COP. Anything to do with COP was looked at in detail during our interviews. Visits to COP are definately a red flag and really makes no sense if you are an genuine asylee !!

As per the postings here and our own personal experiences while travelling on NP and GC each time we came back sometimes it was a wave thru and sometimes it was a secondary inspection. So I realized it is random and IO dependent. But on every visit we were asked if we had been to our COP. The IO after sliding our GC used to ask which countries did you visit, how many days were you outside of US and did you visit COP. Sometimes they asked what we are doing for a living.

But keep track of all postings on this board as the focus of USCIS has changed over years and you should always know what is happening now.
 

wantmygcnow

Volunteer Moderator
#20
THank you Lolali for finally taking the time to write your experience. This gives insight to everyone as to the process for asylees.

For those who have visited COP, I would recommend gathering evidence to suggest your reasons for visiting your COP. I have had no reason to visit COP and don't plan to ever but others should watch out.
 
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