Online Immigration Interpreter Certificate Training


What Does an Immigration Interpreter Do?

immigration interpreter job

Immigration interviews are sometimes intense and nerve-wracking for the immigrants being interviewed. This is especially true for immigration applicants in the US who do not speak English or have limited English proficiency (LEP). To ensure a clear line of communication between the applicants and the interviewer, an immigration interpreter who speaks the language of both parties (English and the target language) is legally required. That immigration interpreter acts as an intermediary to break down the language barriers between the interviewer and the interviewee and establishes a clear line of communication.

The United States government encourages the use of interpreters for immigration interviews for people with limited English proficiency (LEP). The responsibility to find a suitable immigration interpreter falls on the applicant, not the interviewing agency. Therefore, if you require an immigration interpreter for your own immigration interview or for a friend’s or family member’s interview, you will need to hire the immigration interpreter on your own.

USCIS Rules About Who's Eligible to Serve as Interpreter

The standards for interpreters (sometimes called translators, though translators handle only written text) who assist at interviews at USCIS field offices are set forth in a Policy Memorandum that USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) issued on January 17, 2017. This guidance does not cover situations where USCIS itself provides the interpreter; nor does it cover asylum, NACARA, credible fear/reasonable fear, naturalization, or overseas interviews.

The interpreter who interprets for immigration interview must be someone who can accurately, literally, and fully interpret for both the applicant and the interviewing officer and be able to interpret impartially and without bias.

The guidelines also give USCIS the power to disqualify someone from serving as interpreter, if the person is not sufficiently fluent in both English and in the interviewee’s language and able to interpret competently, impartially, and without bias. This means that, for example, a family member with a personal interest in the outcome of the case might not be allowed to serve as interpreter. In fact, USCIS explicitly says within its guidelines that “family members will generally be disfavored as interpreters if there is another qualified interpreter available to the customer.”

Paperwork That Interpreter Must Submit to USCIS

The applicant and the interpreter will have to jointly submit Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview. Both the interviewee and the interpreter will be asked to sign this form at the start of the USCIS interview.

immigration interpreter job

The form declaration states that the interpreter must accurately, literally and fully interpret for both the interviewee and the interviewing officer. It also reminds the interviewee that an interpreter might hear personal information, and requires the interpreter to agree not to disclose any such information learned in the interview.

After signing the form, interpreters interpreting before a USCIS officer must be placed under oath to interpret and translate all questions and answers accurately and literally.

What Does an Immigration Court Interpreter Do?

The job duties of an immigration court interpreter focus on providing interpretation services for immigrant clients who are appearing in an immigration case.

Immigration Court Interpreters typically interpret between their target language and English. In some situations, they interpret spoken language during a court hearing, but their responsibilities can also include translating documents for immigration cases into the immigrant’s native language. They can also help the attorney in the case communicate with their client. The judge or attorney in the court can ask the interpreter to perform other translation duties if the court deems additional translations necessary to ensure due process.

Immigration Court Interpreter Salary

As of Mar 16, 2021, the average annual pay for an Immigration Court Interpreter in the United States is $49,274 a year, according to ZipRecruiter.

That works out to be approximately $23.69 an hour. This is the equivalent of $948/week or $4,106/month.

While ZipRecruiter is seeing annual salaries as high as $84,500 and as low as $18,500, the majority of Immigration Court Interpreter salaries currently range between $39,000 (25th percentile) to $56,000 (75th percentile) with top earners (90th percentile) making $74,000 annually across the United States. The average pay range for an Immigration Court Interpreter varies greatly (by as much as $17,000), which suggests there may be many opportunities for advancement and increased pay based on skill level, location and years of experience.

Immigration Court Interpreter Salary in Massachusetts

Based on job posting activity on ZipRecruiter, an Immigration Court Interpreter in the state of Massachusetts makes on average $53,252 per year, or $3,978 (8%) more than the national average annual salary of $49,274. Massachusetts ranks number 1 out of 50 states nationwide for Immigration Court Interpreter salaries.

Top 10 Highest Paying Cities for Immigration Court Interpreter Jobs

ZipRecruiter has identified 10 cities where the typical salary for an Immigration Court Interpreter job is above the national average. Topping the list is San Mateo, CA, with Berkeley, CA and Daly City, CA close behind in the second and third positions. Daly City, CA beats the national average by $10,270 (20.8%), and San Mateo, CA furthers that trend with another $12,459 (25.3%) above the $49,274 average.

Importantly, San Mateo, CA has a moderately active Immigration Court Interpreter job market with only a few companies currently hiring for this type of role.

With these 10 cities having average salaries higher than the national average, the opportunities for economic advancement by changing locations as an Immigration Court Interpreter appears to be exceedingly fruitful.

Finally, another factor to consider is the average salary for these top ten cities varies very little at 11% between San Mateo, CA and New Haven, CT, reinforcing the limited potential for much wage advancement. The possibility of a lower cost of living may be the best factor to use when considering location and salary for an Immigration Court Interpreter role.

City Annual Salary Monthly Pay Weekly Pay Hourly Wage
San Mateo, CA $61,733 $5,144 $1,187 $29.68
Berkeley, CA $59,712 $4,976 $1,148 $28.71
Daly City, CA $59,545 $4,962 $1,145 $28.63
Richmond, CA $57,839 $4,820 $1,112 $27.81
Stamford, CT $56,320 $4,693 $1,083 $27.08
Bellevue, WA $56,173 $4,681 $1,080 $27.01
Brooklyn, NY $55,367 $4,614 $1,065 $26.62
San Francisco, CA $55,287 $4,607 $1,063 $26.58
Knik-Fairview, AK $55,202 $4,600 $1,062 $26.54
New Haven, CT $54,877 $4,573 $1,055 $26.38

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