If you are over 12 years old, you will have a big interview where the Home Office worker will ask you many questions about why you came to the UK, your journey, your life before the UK.
Most importantly, they will try to find out what scared you so much that you had to leave your own country, or what your family said might happen to you if you stayed.
In the interview, you will have your social worker or a responsible adult and your lawyer with you. An interpreter will also attend.
You can ask for a male or a female interpreter. Some people find speaking to an interpreter of a certain gender easier to talk about difficult topics with. Ask your lawyer to help you do this, and try to make this request as far in advance as possible.
It is very important that you can understand the interpreter. If you cannot understand them, if they speak a different dialect, if they aren’t being professional, or if you think they are not interpreting what you are saying properly, tell the interviewer. You should also tell your lawyer straight away after the interview. Even if it feels like a small thing, it could make a big difference to the way you are being understood.
It can be a long and tiring interview but you can ask for breaks if you are tired or upset. Your social worker or responsible adult can ask for these breaks for you.
You are not feeling well during your big interview.
You can ask a 'responsible adult' to stop the interview so you can have a break.
You can ask a ‘responsible adult’ to stop the interview so you can have a break. If you feel so unwell you do not feel you can carry on, the responsible adult can ask the Home Office to rearrange the interview for another time. Your responsible adult can be your social worker, foster carer or key worker. You have the right to pick a person you trust and have a good relationship with.
You have been waiting a very long time since claiming asylum and you still haven’t had your substantive (big) interview.
It usually takes a long time for the Home Office to look at asylum applications. If you are worried it's taking too long, ask your lawyer to help you contact the Home Office.
Waiting may cause you a lot of anxiety. You can try some of these tips if things become too much for you.
You’ll have plenty of opportunities to have fun experiences in the UK like going to the cinema or, maybe, ice-skating, playing football or going to youth clubs with your friends. This will help you take your mind off things while waiting.
There are also lots of organisations called Refugee Community Organisations where you can meet friends from your country. You can search for them on Google by entering “refugee community organisations” and your area or ask your foster carer or key worker to look for them.
You will find many people from all over the world in the UK- especially in London and other big cities. You can also meet people from your country, if you want to, in refugee community organisations and in places of worship (prayer) such as churches, mosques and temples. Ask your key worker, foster carer or social worker to help you find them or google them.
You are 18 years old by the time you have your substantive (big) interview.
Speak to your lawyer about what to expect. You can read up about the interview process in the Right to Remain Toolkit to find out what happens, and how to prepare.
Read more about the substantive interview and how to prepare here.
You are over 18 and you are worried you might be asked to report after your substantive (big) interview
While you are still waiting for a decision from the Home Office and the court on your asylum claim, you might have to report at the Home Office...
You might be asked to report regularly at the Home Office after your substantive interview. These are regular appointments (sometimes every week, or two weeks, or month), where you have to go and sign your name and, sometimes also answer some questions at your nearest Home Office reporting centre. Read more information about signing support on the Toolkit here. Some people will now be able to report via a telephone call. While you are still waiting for a decision from the Home Office and the court on your asylum claim, these appointments are often quick and straightforward – but they can still be scary. If you are over 18 and your asylum claim has been refused, these appointments become more serious. See the Right to Remain Toolkit, ‘Preparing in case of immigration detention’. Not everyone is asked to report at the Home Office.
You are worried because you cannot understand the interpreter very well during your substantive (big) interview.
You may have been told to respect your elders, but you should not be afraid to ask for an interpreter that you understand. The Home Office interpreters are professionals.
The Home Office interpreters are professionals. You may have been told to respect your elders, but you should not be afraid to ask for an interpreter that you understand- it will not be seen as disrespectful. Your lawyer’s interpreter should also intervene if there are obvious issues. Alternatively, you may also ask to stop the interview if you can. If this is not possible, tell your lawyer or social worker as soon as possible. Your lawyer will have taken a record of what was said (in English) during the interview and can go through this with you to check any inaccuracies (mistakes) in a meeting with you after the interview (post-interview meeting).
You were confused during the substantive (big) interview and are worried you have made a mistake.
Your lawyer will have taken a record of what was said (in English) during the interview. They can go through this with you to check any inaccuracies (mistakes) in a meeting a day or two after.
Your lawyer will have taken a record of what was said (in English) during the interview. They can go through this with you to check any inaccuracies (mistakes) in a meeting a day or two after your interview. This is a very important step as it gives you the opportunity to correct any ‘mistakes’ or misunderstandings. Remember, it’s also okay to say ‘I don’t know’ during your interview.
You are worried about sharing the details of your story in front of a male interviewer and interpreter
You can request (in advance) a male or female interviewer and interpreter through your lawyer. Speak to your lawyer about how to do this.