Covid-19: USCIS Offers Free Interpreters For Asylum Interviews During Pandemic

Available until March 23, 2021, USCIS has offered to provide interpreters to speakers of 47 foreign languages who come in for affirmative asylum interviews. These will be free of cost and available via telephone. 

This new temporary rule has been established to prevent the spread of the coronavirus among applicants, attorneys, interpreters, and USCIS employees as fewer people will have to attend asylum interviews in person.

Are You Applying For a US Green Card Through Asylum?

Here’s everything you need to know

Previously asylum seekers who did not speak English had to bring in their own interpreter to their in-person application interview. Several times, this was a difficult proposition for many who were applying for asylum in the US either because of fear of persecution in their own country, were escaping violence, abuse or human trafficking. 

Additionally, if the asylum seeker was unable to provide his own interpreter, his in-person interview would be rescheduled. Having his affirmative action hearing rescheduled meant delays in processing and a consequent longer wait for the petitioner.

These challenges are alleviated by free and immediate availability of an interpreter.

What Do Interpreters Do?

USCIS provides interpreters on contracts who have undergone background checks and competency tests and offer:

  • Translation of questions asked during an asylum affirmative action interview;
  • The answers given by the immigrant are accurately translated for the USCIS immigration officer;
  • They conduct screening interviews at US port of entries;
  • Assess and monitor personal, trusted interpreters brought in by the asylum seeker;
  • When needed, these USCIS assigned interpreters are available to participate in affirmative asylum interviews impromptu when requested by an USCIS immigration officer.

Praised as a positive and safety move by many, several immigration organizations have requested to extend such social distancing facilities to video conferencing to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus.