When you apply for a Protection visa a case officer from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) will usually interview you in person to discuss why you should be given protection in Australia.
How do I prepare?
It is important that you spend time preparing for your interview. Here are some tips for preparing for your interview:
- Read through your application forms, statement and any other documents you have given to the DIAC very carefully to refresh your memory about what you have already told DIAC. But it is important not to study these documents too hard and recite them word for word during your interview as this can make it seem like your story is not true
- Make sure there are no mistakes in your application or statement and that nothing important was left out
- Make a note of any mistakes you find so you can tell your migration agent about them and you can tell the case officer about them at the beginning of the interview
- Make a note of anything important that was left out or that you would like to change in your application/statement and let your migration agent know about what was left out. Your migration agent can help you to decide whether this is important information which you need to tell the case officer about during the interview
- Think about the Refugee Convention definition and how your story fits into the definition
- Think about what the important parts of your story are which explain why you are a refugee and think about how you will explain these things to the case officer
- After you have prepared, try to relax before the interview. Remember that the questions relate to your own experiences. It is your story and you know it well. Don’t worry about your case for a day or two before the interview and you will be able to answer the officer’s questions more easily
What should I expect?
Please click on each heading below to find out more information about the interview.
When will I be interviewed?
Where will I be interviewed?
Do I have to go to my interview?
If you can’t go to the interview for any reason make sure you contact your case officer and organise another time for your interview. If you miss your interview without telling the case officer that you can’t attend, he/she will decide your case based on what is in your written application. The DIAC will send your interview request to you so if you change your address make sure you let the DIAC know.
Will the information I give to the DIAC be confidential?
The information you give is confidential. This means that the DIAC can’t tell anyone else about your story, so you don’t need to be afraid to speak honestly about why you have left your home country and who you are afraid will harm you if you return. This information will not be given to your home country’s government or police.
However the DIAC can contact authorities in countries you have passed through and give them your name, photograph or fingerprints to find out more information about you. The DIAC should not give your details to the government in your home country. However if your case is unsuccessful and you refuse to leave Australia voluntarily then sometimes the DIAC will contact the government in your home country and give them your name so that they can organise a travel document for you. They will not give any information about your refugee claims to your country’s government.>
Who interviews me?
How long will the interview take?
Will the interview be recorded?
What if I need an interpreter?
You must ask the DIAC to organise an interpreter for you before your interview. You cannot bring your own interpreter to the interview. It is really important that the case officer understands everything you are telling them because the information you tell them in the interview is used to decide whether or not you are a refugee. If you decide to ask for an interpreter to be at the interview with you – you can choose how to use the interpreter. If you feel comfortable answering some questions in English you can still do this.
It’s good to remember that the interpreter is required to keep everything they hear confidential so you don’t need to worry about people finding out what you have said during the interview. If you speak only a specific dialect then you should make sure that your migration agent knows this so they can ask the DIAC to organise the right interpreter for you. If you prefer either a male or female interpreter also ensure you inform your officer or the DIAC.
If at anytime during the interview you are concerned that the interpreter is making errors in their interpreting of what you are saying make sure to tell the DIAC officer immediately.
Can I bring a support person to the interview?
The person you bring can support you but not speak for you. You have to explain your story to the case officer. You should only bring someone to the interview if you feel comfortable speaking freely about your whole story in front of them. You just need tell your case officer before the interview who will be coming and why they are coming.
How will the case officer conduct the interview?
Each case officer approaches the interview differently. Some case officers will ask you to tell them your whole story from the beginning and explain to them why you are a refugee. Other case officers will ask you about specific parts of your story if they want more information or if they are concerned about something you have said in your application.
Usually the case officer will ask you about the information you put in your written Protection visa application. The case officer will also read news and other information about your country and they might ask you about what they have read about your country and how it affects your refugee claim.
Sometimes the case officer will look into your story before the interview. They may look for more information about the people, places and dates of things that have happened to you. This is why it is important that everything in your Protection visa application is true and correct.
Sometimes during the interview the case officer will present information to you which is against your claim. Do not be worried if this happens. This means you have a chance to respond to and explain this information.
If you arrived in Australia with a valid visa, the officer may also ask you questions about your original visa application.
Can my migration agent help?
If you have a migration agent, your migration agent should attend the DIAC interview with you.
Your migration agent is there to make sure you have a fair interview and can intervene if there is some problem with the interview process. Your migration agent cannot answer the questions for you. At the end of the interview after the case officer has asked all of their questions, there will be a short break before the interview finishes. During this break you can discuss your case with your migration agent. Your migration agent can let you know if there is any information you need to explain in more detail or if there are any problems with your case you need to address. You can also raise with your migration agent any important information you would like raised that you feel has been missed during the interview. The case officer will come back and ask you if you have anything to add after this break.
Your migration agent will usually also make a “submission” for you at the end of the interview. This is a chance for your migration agent to explain how your case fits into the refugee definition and to explain to the case officer more about the situation in your country and information from your country which supports your refugee claim.