Asylum Seekers: get all your documents & listen to your interview!

Asylum Seekers: get all your documents & listen to your interview!

If you want to apply for a protection visa in Australia, you must have all the documents, recordings and information held by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (the Department) before you put in your visa application. This is especially important if you arrived in Australia by boat.

Your lawyer or migration agent must make sure that what you said at your initial interviews, and the information you gave to the Department, is correct. You may have been really stressed, frightened and upset when the Department spoke to you the first time and asked you to tell them your story.

You do have the opportunity to tell your story properly and correct any mistakes. But to do this, you have to get all your information from the Department. If you only get the recordings of your interview, or if you only get your documents, this is not enough. You must also get the documents and recordings of any family members that are part of your application, so your migration agent or lawyer can make sure all the information is consistent.


You must apply to get all your documents by following these steps:

  • Download Application Form 424A from the Department of Immigration and Border Protection here;
  • Fill out the Application Form with your details (and the details of your partner or children);
  • In answer to question 11, state the following: “Please provide a copy of my entire immigration file, all documents, files, folios, recordings and/or information, including: internal memos and correspondence; recordings and written notes of interviews; and any records of decisions relating to screening in or out.”


Your English is probably much better now than it was when you arrived, so when you get your CD, listen carefully to see whether the interpreter got the correct information and questions asked of you, and then gave the correct information and answers to the Department officer who interviewed you.

Recently, we had a case where one word interpreted incorrectly by an interpreter caused an asylum seeker to be disbelieved about his whole case!

Our client (who came to us when his case was at Court) explained to the Department in the initial interview that the authorities in his country had broken into his parent’s house, demanding to know where he was. Our client described to the Department officer that the authorities had shouted at his father. But the interpreter told the Department officer that the authorities had shouted and beaten the father. Our client had not said this at all.

After this interview, many Department Officers questioned our client again and again about how his father was beaten. Because our client was confused about where this information had come from, the Department made what is called “adverse credibility findings” against him: they did not believe anything he said after that. Our client approached Kerdo Legal when his application for protection had been refused twice and was at the Federal Circuit Court.

Fortunately, we won at the Court. When we were at the Tribunal, we were able to prove that there had been a terrible mistake around this one word by using evidence from a different qualified interpreter, and we won that case too.

How to check whether your interview was interpreted correctly:

  • Once you have your CD, listen very carefully to all the recordings and make a note of any differences, for example, has the interpreter accurately interpreted your response to questions without adding words or leaving any words out?
  • If you notice the interpreter has made a mistake, make a note of the time stamp on recording where it happens and let your migration agent or lawyer know.