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Guidance on Interpreters in Domestic Field Office Interviews

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On May 1, 2017, a new guidance on the role and use of interpreters in domestic field office interviews will go into effect. The intent of the guidance is to ensure that those who bring interpreters to certain types of interviews are getting competent language assistance, a situation that we most commonly encounter in family-based applications such as status adjustments.

Along with the new guidance, the USCIS will also introduce a new form—Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview—which needs to be signed by both the interviewee and the interpreter in the presence of a USCIS officer before the interview. The form states that the interpreter must accurately, literally, and fully interpret for both the interviewee and the interviewing officer. It also serves as a reminder that personal information may be disclosed during the interview, and whatever is heard during the interview should remain confidential.

The new guidance also seeks to increase the consistency in interpreted interviews by establishing basic standards for interpreters. According to the new guidance, interpreters should be fluent in both English and the interviewee’s language, and able to competently translate between the two. Further, interpreters should be able to interpret impartially and without bias.

In an effort to better define who can serve as an interpreter, the guidance offers restrictions on those who can serve in the role. To serve as an interpreter, a person must be 18 years of age or older; however, in some cases, exceptions will be made for individuals between 14 and 17 years old. There will be no exemptions made for individuals under 14. Also restricted from serving as an interpreter are witnesses, but, once again, there are some instances where an exception may be made. Lastly, the interviewee’s attorneys or accredited representatives are not permitted to act as interpreters.

If a USCIS officer determines that an interpreter doesn’t fit the requirement or is restricted, the interpreter will be disqualified. In the event of a disqualification, the applicant may continue the interview using a qualified interpreter or reschedule the interview so they can bring a qualified interpreter. They may also choose to continue with the interview without an interpreter if the applicant and officer can communicate effectively in English.

Immigration rules and laws are changing rapidly, and it’s important to have someone familiar with the ins and outs of immigration on your side. At GoffWilson, our focus is solely on immigration law, and we’ve handled a multitude of cases like this over the years. If you have a question about an upcoming interview with the USCIS, contact us today. Immigration is what we do.  

Filed under:Immigration Law