Affirmative Asylum Applicants Must Provide Interpreters Starting September 13, 2023

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that affirmative asylum applicants must bring an interpreter to their asylum interview if they are not fluent in English or wish to proceed with their interview in a language other than English, starting September 13, 2023.

Sign language interpreters are the only exception to this requirement. USCIS continues to provide sign language interpreters as a disability accommodation. Follow the instructions on your interview notice to request this disability accommodation.

If you need an interpreter and do not bring one, or if your interpreter is not fluent in English and the language you speak USCIS may consider this a failure to appear for your interview and dismiss your asylum application or refer your asylum application to an immigration judge. USCIS will make such determinations based on “good cause” on a case-by-case-basis.

Requirements To Be An Interpreter For An Asylum Interview

The interpreter must be:
  1. fluent in English;
  2. fluent in the language you speak (the language you wish to conduct the interview in);
  3. must be at least 18 years old; and
  4. must not be ineligible for the reasons below.

Who CANNOT Be An Interpreter

The interpreter must not be:
  • Your attorney or accredited representative;
  • A witness testifying on your behalf;
  • 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.

On Sept. 23, 2020, USCIS published a temporary final rule (TFR) due to COVID and health guidelines that were in place to stop the spread at that time. The TFR has expired and with the expiration of the TFR, USCIS is reverting back to the long-standing regulatory requirement for an affirmative asylum applicant to provide an interpreter under 8 CFR 208.9(g).

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