What are USCIS’ Translation Requirements?

If you plan to move to the United States or need to send translated copies of your ID to the government, you’ll likely have to deal with USCIS. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has a series of strict requirements for translation services, and knowing these requirements is paramount to ensuring your immigration or citizenship application process goes smoothly. Here’s what you need to know about USCIS translation requirements:

 

What is USCIS? 

To start, let’s talk about USCIS. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the national department dedicated to emigration into the United States and granting residents citizenship. USCIS handles all legal entries into the country and regularly handles hundreds of cases daily.  

When submitting documents to USCIS, all documentation must be in English. USCIS requires applicants to provide a certified English translation and a copy of the original document for non-English documents. When dealing with USCIS, you’ll likely have to provide documents like: 

  • Birth Certificates 
  • Driver’s Licenses  
  • Passports 
  • Medical Records 
  • Criminal Records 
  • Bank Statements 

If you need documents translated for USCIS, asking an agent for a complete list is always best. 

Who can Translate Documents for USCIS?

So, who exactly can translate documents for USCIS? Generally speaking, any professional translator can, but some stipulations will make things easier on your end. For starters, it’s always good to have a translator experienced with certified translations. While they don’t necessarily need an ATA certification, translators who regularly offer certified translation services will be more familiar with the ins and outs of the process. 

Can I Translate my own Document for USCIS? 

In addition, USCIS also requires that translators involved in the process must act as a neutral third party. This means that if you, a friend, or a family member are experienced translators, your translation won’t be accepted by the USCIS. Generally, it’s best to use a professional translation service to ensure your translations are accurate and unbiased. 

 

Certified Translations with the USCIS 

The USCIS requires that all documents in languages other than English come with a certified English translation.  

What Qualifies as a Certified Translation?

Certified translations are a type of legal translation most often used for government processes. You’ll typically encounter certified translations when traveling or studying abroad, emigrating to a new country, or applying for citizenship. What sets certified translations apart from traditional translations, however, isn’t the content—it’s the inclusion of a certificate of accuracy signed by the translator.  

A certificate of accuracy for certified translations is an affidavit attached to the translation. It will contain: 

  • Their name and credentials. 
  • The name of the translated work. 
  • The language the work was translated into. 
  • Confirmation that the translation is complete, accurate, and unbiased. 
  • The translator’s signature. 
  • The date the translation was certified. 

A USCIS-certified translation will also include confirmation from the translator that they were a neutral third party involved in the translation process. 

Does a Translation Have to be Notarized?

Previously, USCIS required all translations to be notarized before they could be accepted as valid. However, recent changes have allowed certified translations to be submitted to USCIS. Today, people submitting documents to USCIS can submit certified or notarized translations without issue. 

notarized translation flowchart

How do I get USCIS Certified Translation?

Finding the right service for the job is essential when getting a USCIS-certified translation. But does USCIS have translators? 

Unfortunately, USCIS does not provide certified translators for those needing translation services. However, there are plenty of ways to find affordable document translation services with the express purpose of translating content for USCIS.  

 

Certified Translation Resources 

As mentioned, there are several ways to access certified translation services, even if USCIS cannot provide them. For starters, nonprofits and government programs can help people looking for translation services find resources and afford services. 

The American Translators Association 

One of the best places to connect with translators is the American Translators Association (ATA), which helps translators and interpreters find work and get certified. From the ATA website, people needing translation services can find translators in their language pair and connect with them, allowing them to get certified translations with relative ease. 

What is the ATA? 

As a nonprofit, the American Translators Association works like a union: it advocates for translator and interpreter protections, organizes industry events, and even helps match beginner translators with mentors and vice versa. In addition, the ATA offers professional translator and interpreter certification, giving language service providers a competitive edge with the United States’ most trusted industry leader.  

It’s important to note that while the ATA is a highly respected organization in the U.S., it is not a translation agency. The ATA won’t be able to provide you with a certified translation, but they can help you find a translator that fits your project needs.  

ATA Certification and Certified Translations

For a translator to be certified with the ATA, they’ll have to take a certification exam, an extensive test that challenges a translator or interpreter’s skills. These exams are known for being notoriously difficult as well. Fortunately, you don’t need an ATA-certified translator to create certified translations. In fact, the ATA only offers the exam in a limited number of languages, so if your native language isn’t listed, that’s totally okay! 

Certified Translation Services Online 

Along with using the ATA to find translators, one of the best ways to search for certified translation services is online. A simple search for “certified translation services near me” will net you plenty of results, and you’ll be able to send sample documents and receive price quotes quickly through the internet.  

Tips For a Smooth Translation Process 

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when searching for USCIS-certified translation services that will help make your approval process go smoother: 

  1. Explain what the translation is for. Letting the translator or translation company know you need documents translated for USCIS will streamline the process. An experienced legal translator will be aware of USCIS’ translation requirements and can ensure that your documents are appropriately handled for quick approval. 
  1. Send a sample if requested. USCIS requires a separate certification for all documents translated. If you plan on translating several documents at once, the translator may ask for a sample to better estimate how long it’ll take them to complete the project. 
  1. Keep your timeline in mind. The best way to stay on budget and avoid extra fees is to start looking for translators as soon as possible. If you need a translation on a tighter schedule, you’ll likely encounter rush fees as translators make room in their schedules for your project.  
  1. Send copies of your documents. USCIS needs essential documents translated. Don’t go without them; instead, send your translator copies of each document you need to translate to ensure you don’t lose anything. 

 

Do Immigration Documents Need to be Translated?

All immigration documents that aren’t in English will need translation to be accepted by USCIS. This includes additional documents needed to confirm your identity or income that need USCIS-certified translation. Birth certificates, for example, will need translation alongside your immigration documents, and each will need a separate certification. 

Do I Need to Translate Documents for I-130? 

For form I-130, you’ll also need to translate any documents that aren’t initially in English. When you send documents to USCIS, always send copies—never send the original document. Check out our I-130 checklist to ensure you have all the necessary documents translated: 

  • Proof of Citizenship: These documents will confirm that you are a U.S. citizen. You can use: 
    • Birth certificates 
    • A certificate of naturalization issued by USCIS or the previous Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) 
    • An unexpired passport 
    • Form FS-240, issued by a U.S. embassy or consulate 
    • An original statement from a U.S. consulate officer that confirms you are a citizen with a valid passport 
    • The front and back of your Green Card (Form I-551) 
  • Proof of Family Relationship: These documents confirm your relation to the person you want to bring over. You’ll need different documents for different types of family members: 
    • For your spouse, bring a copy of your marriage certificate. You might also need to bring proof that you and your spouse own property or reside together, that you’ve combined your financial resources, proof of a legal name change, children’s birth certificates, affidavits from third parties that confirm you are married, and any other relevant documentation to prove you and your spouse are married. 
    • For parents, bring your birth certificate. 
    • For your children, bring a copy of their birth certificate. If your child is adopted, you must bring copies of the adoption decree, proof of legal custody and joint residence for at least 2 years, and proof that the Hague Adoption Convention process does not apply to your child. 
    • For siblings, bring copies of both your birth certificate and theirs. 

proof of relation documents

 

USCIS Interpreter Requirements 

If you need an interpreter for a USCIS interview, you’re in luck. Plenty of interpreters across the country are highly experienced working with USCIS and can help you during important interviews. To get an interpreter for a USCIS interview, you and the interpreter must file form G-1256, the Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview form. Your interpreter must also meet the following requirements: 

  • They are over 18 years old. 
  • They are fluent in both English and your native language. 
  • They will act as a neutral third party during the interview and only interpret spoken language without providing additional context or opinions. 
  • They cannot be witnesses to your case, family members, or associated lawyers. 

Can I Bring an Interpreter to my Green Card Interview? 

If you need an interpreter for a green card interview, the best thing to do is to request an interpreted interview with form G-1256. If your chosen interpreter meets the USCIS’ requirements, they can come to your green card interview.  

If you are confused during the interview or have any questions for the interviewer, make sure you vocalize them—the interpreter will not be able to provide extra context. 

 

Certified Translations with Traduality 

Do you need something translated for USCIS? We’ve got you covered! Traduality’s expert team of vetted linguists are ready to handle your document translation needs with the utmost care and precision. To learn more and get a price quote, contact us today. 

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