Affirmative Asylum Applicants Must Provide Interpreters Starting Sep. 13

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced that starting on Sep. 13, 2023, 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.  

USCIS also indicates that if the applicants do not bring an interpreter, or the interpreter is not fluent in English and in the applicant’s language, it could be considered as a failure to appear for the interview, and the asylum application could be dismissed or referred to an immigration judge.  

The interpreters, the USCIS explains, must not be the applicant’s attorney; a witness testifying on the applicant’s behalf; a representative or employee of the government of the applicant’s country of nationality; or an individual with a pending asylum application who has not been interviewed yet. 

On September 23, 2020, USCIS had issued a temporary final rule (TFR) that required affirmative asylum applicants to use telephonic interpreters that the USCIS arranged for the asylum interviews, instead of applicants’ bringing their own interpreters. This measure was introduced to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during asylum interviews conducted by the USCIS asylum officers while the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency were in effect. This TFR was extended four times, with the current extension effective through September 12, 2023. With the expiration of the fourth TFR, USCIS will revert to the long-standing regulatory requirement for affirmative asylum applicants to provide their own interpreters.  

For more information, visit the USCIS website or call our office at 216.566-9908. 

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