What to know about the asylum interview in Hungary

Quick facts

  • The interview is in a container.
  • It can last several hours — sometimes 6 or more.
  • Asylum officers will interrogate each of your family members separately.
  • They can interview children only when one parent is present.
  • If you are under 18 and without your parents, a legal guardian appointed by Hungary will be with you during the interview.

Learn more about asylum rates in Hungary here and the asylum process in Hungary here.

Photo MTI: Transit Zone in Tompa, Hungary

Before the interview

How to prepare

Before you enter the transit zone, make photocopies of your documents. Bringing copies of your documents to the interview can make the asylum process go faster, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee advises.

The story you tell during your interview is very important. Write your memories down before the interview to help you remember details.

You can ask for:

A lawyer. Once you are in the transit zone, you can request to be represented by the Hungarian Helsinki Committee lawyer. Her name is Tímea Kovács. You need to explicitly ask for her by name.

You can ask to speak to the lawyer before your interview.

Photo MTI: Police in the Transit Zone in Tompa, Hungary

During the interview

You can ask for:

  • A lawyer – You also have the right to request a lawyer during the interview. You will get a Hungarian public defender. It is better to request the Hungarian Helsinki Lawyer before your interview.
  • Water – If you are thirsty, you can ask for water.
  • The restroom – If you need to go to the restroom, you can go. Police will escort you there.
  • A break – You can request a short break if the interview takes a long time.

If you don’t request these things, you probably will not get them.

Who will be in the room

  • You
  • An asylum officer
  • A lawyer, if you request one
  • An interpreter/translator
  • A social worker, if you request one

Photo New York Times: Asylum-seekers entering Hungary

Sample questions the asylum officer may ask

  • What were your personal reasons for leaving your home country?
  • Would you face persecution and/or indiscriminate violence if you were to return to your home country?
  • What are your religious beliefs, and would you change them?
  • Do you have or have you ever had political affiliations?
  • Do you have membership in a certain social group?

Things you should absolutely tell the asylum officer, even if they don’t ask

  • If you saw the death of your family members, friends or people who were close to you. If so, how you felt in that moment.
  • If you were scared in your home country, and what scared you.
  • If you were a victim of violence, torture or other inhumane treatment.
  • The final event that made you decide to flee, and why.

Photo AFP: Asylum-seekers waiting to enter Hungary

Tips for telling your story

  • Be truthful.
  • Be specific.
  • Use as much detail as you can to describe your motivations and emotions.
  • Describe your fears as much as possible. The more you tell the asylum officer about your fears, the greater your chances of getting asylum in Hungary, the Hungarian Helsinki Committee advises.