Who Can Be an Interpreter for a USCIS Interview?

If you are not fluent in English and you need to attend an interview at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office, you may need to bring your own interpreter. This person can act as an intermediary between you and the USCIS officer to facilitate communication.

There are exceptions to this rule, including removal (deportation) hearings, where an interpreter will be provided by the government, and naturalization (citizenship) interviews, where you are expected to have knowledge of and be tested on your English language ability unless you have applied for a waiver based on age or disability.

Generally, a disinterested party will serve as the interpreter for a USCIS interview. The interviewing officer at their discretion may decide to let a relative interpret. Usually, this is not the case, and the petitioning party cannot serve as the interpreter.

A USCIS officer will look to their Policy Manual training to determine who can be an interpreter at the USCIS interview. The Policy Manual says the following:

C. Interpreters

An applicant may not be fluent in English and may require use of an interpreter for the adjustment interview. At the adjustment interview, the interpreter should: 

  • Present his or her valid government-issued identity document and complete an interpreter’s oath and privacy release statement; and
  • Translate what the officer and the applicant say word-for-word to the best of his or her ability without adding the interpreter’s own opinion, commentary, or answer.

In general, a disinterested party should be used as the interpreter. An officer may exercise discretion, however, to allow a friend or relative of the applicant to act as interpreter. If the officer is fluent in the applicant’s preferred language, the officer may conduct the examination in that language without use of an interpreter. 

USCIS reserves the right to disqualify an interpreter provided by the applicant if the officer believes the integrity of the examination is compromised by the interpreter’s participation or the officer determines the interpreter is not competent to translate. 

Source: USCIS policy Manual Chapter 5 – Interview Guidelines (Dec 15, 2022)


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