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Affirmative Asylum Applicants Must Provide Interpreters Starting Sept. 13

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

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 a language you speak, and you do not establish good cause, we may consider this a failure to appear for your interview and we may dismiss your asylum application or refer your asylum application to an immigration judge. We will determine good cause on a case-by-case-basis.

The interpreter must be fluent in English and a language you speak fluently and must be at least 18 years old. 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, we published a temporary final rule (TFR) requiring affirmative asylum applicants to use our contracted telephonic interpreters for their asylum interviews, instead of bringing an interpreter to the interview. We published this TFR to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during asylum interviews with USCIS asylum officers while the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency were in effect. We published four subsequent TFRs extending the requirement, with the current extension effective through Sept. 12, 2023. This fourth extension provided additional time after the national and public health emergencies expired to allow us to prepare to return to the prior regulatory requirement. With the expiration of the TFR, we will be reverting back to the long-standing regulatory requirement for an affirmative asylum applicant to provide an interpreter under 8 CFR 208.9(g).

This article is provided as an educational service and is not legal advice. Consult with an attorney for your specific circumstances.  For a comprehensive evaluation of your immigration situation and options, you are invited to call us at 214-393-4917, text us using our chat box, or complete our contact form.

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