The interview is the most important part of the procedure for international protection. During the interview, an Agency employee, called an “interviewer”, conducts a detailed questioning about the reasons for the flight from the country of origin. The decision to be made on the application – granting a status in Bulgaria or refusing protection – depends to a large extent on the information given by the applicant in the course of the interview.
It is possible that more than one interview are held with an applicant. This option is used when there is a need to elicit all the facts in the applicant’s claim or to clarify any inconsistencies established in the first interview.
It is obligatory to observe the date and time determined for the interview. The applicants must make an appearance for the interview exactly on the day and at the time, as indicated, without being late. The failure to make an appearance for the interview, and even the delayed appearance may have negative implications and may result in suspension and termination of the procedure or in the issuance of a decision refusing protection in Bulgaria.
During the interview the applicant is obliged to:
- tell his/her real names, as, if he/she receives a status, he/she will not be able to use his/her original national documents (for example, education diploma, vocational certificate of education, driver’s license, and other similar documents).
Moreover, any imprecision in the names indicated may be an obstacle to subsequent reunification with other family members in Bulgaria. If the applicant notices that his/her name has not been correctly recorded upon registration, he/she must immediately let the interviewer know this during the interview.
- tell in details his/her story to the interviewer, without suppressing anything, without inventing or adding any elements to the story. The applicant is required to provide all the details to describe the reasons why he/she left his/her country of origin indicating the exact dates of the events, if he/she can recall them. The foreigner seeking protection in Bulgaria bears the whole responsibility in terms of the information and data about himself/herself that he/she provides in the course of the interview.
- submit documents proving his/her refugee story, if he/she has such documents. Such documents or evidence may be, for example: identity documents, subpoena from the police or the court, medical certificates, court judgments or convictions, cards of membership in a party or another organization, certificates, photographs, newspaper articles, video recordings, and other similar documents. Such evidence will help speed up the process of making a decision on the application for protection.
In the course of the interview, an applicant who does not speak Bulgarian is entitled to an interpreter. The interpreter may speak the applicant’s mother tongue or another language that the applicant understands. If during the interview it turns out that the applicant does not understand the interpreter, he/she can ask for another interpreter. Furthermore, all applicants have the right to request that both the interviewer and the interpreter should be of the same gender as theirs.
The records from the interview must be read out by the interpreter before the applicant signs them. If the applicant’s statements have not been precisely recorded, this may have a negative effect on the decision concerning the status; therefore, it is important that the records are complete and correct.
The date and time of the interview are notified by means of a written invitation to an interview which is served on the applicant for protection by the staff of the refugee centre (camp) where he/she is accommodated. If the foreigner has accommodation outside the refugee camps in the course of the interview, he/she will receive the invitation to the interview in a letter sent by mail by the Agency for Refugees. This is why the persons with whom the applicant lives must be informed about the need to pass over the letter to the applicant as soon as it is has been received. Moreover, the mail box of the lodgings where the applicant resides must be regularly checked for notifications from the local postal service.