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Temporary Final Rule: Asylum Interview Interpreter Requirement Modification Due to COVID-19

On Sept. 23, 2020, USCIS implemented a temporary final rule that requires certain asylum applicants to use a USCIS-provided telephonic contract interpreter in order to keep our workforce and applicants safe during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Effective until March 22, 2021, if you are an asylum applicant and are unable to proceed with your interview in English, you may be required to use a USCIS contract interpreter at your asylum interview instead of bringing your own interpreter.

If you fluently speak one of the languages listed below, you will be required to use a USCIS contract interpreter, which we will provide free of charge, at your asylum interview. USCIS contract interpreters are carefully vetted and must meet high standards of competency. If you refuse to use a USCIS contract interpreter, we will consider that a failure to appear without good cause and we will dismiss your application or refer your application to immigration court.

If you are not fluent in any of the languages listed below, you must bring an interpreter to your asylum interview who is fluent in English and your native language or any other language in which you are fluent. Your interpreter must be 18 years or older, not be your legal representative or witness, and not be a representative or employee of your country of nationality (or, if stateless, your country of last habitual residence). If you are unable to provide such interpreter, you may provide an interpreter fluent in your language and one of the languages listed below. USCIS will provide a relay interpreter to interpret between the language listed below and English.

This temporary final rule is part of USCIS’ precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our contract interpreters provide their services telephonically, which will reduce the number of people visiting USCIS facilities. The rule helps us manage space restrictions, increases the efficiency of our asylum interviews, and improves the safety of our officers and the public.

USCIS contract interpreters are available for these 47 languages:

  • Akan
  • Albanian
  • Amharic
  • Arabic
  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bengali
  • Burmese
  • Cantonese
  • Creole/Haitian Creole
  • Farsi-Afghani/Dari
  • Farsi-Iranian
  • Foo Chow/Fuzhou
  • French
  • Georgian
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • Hmong
  • Hungarian
  • Indonesia/Bahasa
  • Konjobal
  • Korean
  • Kurdish
  • Lingala
  • Mam
  • Mandarin
  • Nepali
  • Pashto/Pushtu
  • Portuguese
  • Punjabi
  • Quiche/K'iche
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Serbian
  • Sinhalese
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • Swahili
  • Tagalog
  • Tamil
  • Tigrinya
  • Turkish
  • Twi
  • Ukrainian
  • Urdu
  • Uzbek
  • Vietnamese

If you need an interpreter for one of these languages but a contract interpreter is not available at the time of your interview, then we will reschedule your interview. The interview delay will be attributed to USCIS, and not to you, for the purposes of employment authorization under 8 CFR 208.7.

Following March 22, 2021, asylum applicants unable to proceed with an asylum interview in English will again be required to provide their own interpreters.

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