A blog about U.S. immigration matters by Paul Szeto, a former INS attorney and an experienced immigration lawyer. We serve clients in all U.S. states and overseas countries. (All information is not legal advice and is subject to change without prior notice.)

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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Affirmative Asylum Applicants Must Bring Interpreters to Inteview

Starting 9/13/2023, affirmative asylum applicants must bring their own interpreters to asylum interviews, if they are not fluent in English or prefer to conduct the interview in a language other than English.

Since 2020 and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS has required asylum applicants to use contract telephonic interpreters arranged by USCIS for health and safety reasons. This policy has ended today, and an asylum applicant must bring their own interpreters if they need to use one.

USCIS warns that failure to bring one's interpreter may result in denial of the asylum application, as the USCIS would not be able to proceed with the interview.

Asylum applicants are allowed to bring an adult friend or family member to act as the interpreter. However, the following individuals cannot server as an interpreter:
  • The attorney or accredited representative of the case;
  • A witness testifying on your behalf of the applicant;
  • A representative or employee of the government of your country of nationality (or, if you are stateless, your country of last habitual residence); or
  • An individual with a pending asylum application who has not yet been interviewed.

Further, asylum applicants must make sure that interpreters that they use are competent.  Oftentimes, friends and family members may know English but are not qualified to act as interpreters.  A competent interpreter must be fluent in both English and the language to be translated. USCIS may consider incompetent interpretation as failure to appear for the interview, which may result in the denial of the asylum application.

(Immigration laws and policies change regularly.  If you have any questions regarding this article, please visit www.1visa1.com to schedule a legal consultation.) 

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