U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issued new guidance on January 18, 2017, on the role and use of interpreters in domestic field office interviews, to be implemented May 1, 2017. USCIS said the policy memorandum is intended to help ensure that those who bring interpreters to certain interviews have competent language assistance.
USCIS said the guidance applies to interviews at domestic field offices except in cases where USCIS provides interpreters or has other policies, such as:
- Asylum and refugee interviews
- Credible fear and reasonable fear screening interviews;
- Interviews to determine eligibility for relief under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act; and
- Naturalization interviews, unless the interviewee qualifies for an exception to demonstrating adequate proficiency in reading, writing, and speaking English.
USCIS said it will introduce Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview. Both the interviewee and interpreter must sign the new form at the beginning of the interview in the presence of the USCIS officer.
The memo states that the standards include being sufficiently fluent in both English and the interviewee’s language; able to interpret competently between English and the interviewee’s language; and able to interpret impartially and without bias. Those restricted from serving as interpreters include minors under age 18, except for good cause for those ages 14-17; witnesses, except for good cause; and attorneys and accredited representatives of the interviewee.