IMMIGRATION INTERPRETER Q&A
Most frequently asked questions about immigration interpreting:
1. Is using “just any” bilingual person for immigration interpretation a bad idea?
You might be bilingual or you might know a friend or family member who is bilingual. And in some cases, it might seem like a good idea to use that skill to provide interpretation services for the immigration interview. Although there is no harm in having a friend or family member interpret in casual settings, it is not a good idea for this immigration interview where so much is at stake.
2. Is immigration interpreter's job hard?
Immigration Interpretation is a much harder job than it might seem. Contrary to popular belief, being bilingual is far from the only requirement for being a good interpreter. A competent immigration interpreter needs to have many different skills and an extensive vocabulary in English and the target language. This allows them to interpret verbatim (word-for-word) and minimize confusion and the risk of miscommunication. Additionally, they need to have a good memory to recall these words quickly and interpret without breaking the flow of conversation. Since the conversation happens in real-time, they do not have the time to look up the exact word they are looking for in a dictionary or encyclopedia.
3. How do I become an immigration interpreter?
In order to become a competent immigration interpreter, you need to have in-depth subject-matter knowledge and experience. Immigration interpreters undergo extensive immigration interpreter training that imparts them with the knowledge of immigration terms and concepts, the necessary contextual insight, and a grasp of the immigration interpreter code of conduct to follow when providing their immigration interpreting services. An untrained interpreter will not suffice.
Register for our next Immigration interpreter Training to become a professional Immigration interpreter!
4. Do I need any training to interpret for immigration interviews?
The standards for immigration interpreters (sometimes called translators, though translators handle only written text) who assist at interviews at USCIS field offices are very high and are set forth in a Policy Memorandum that USCIS issued on January 17, 2017.
To become a successful immigration interpreter you need to possess the knowledge of immigration and legal terms in English and the target language and to know how to act and what to do when you walk into the interview room with the applicant. This reduces the risk of miscommunication and maximizes the applicant’s chance of clearing the interview.
5. Can a bilingual friend or relative provide interpretation for an immigration interview?
Untrained interpreters may be a disservice to the LEP (Limited English Proficiency) applicants when they do not understand the terminology and the concepts used by the interviewer and don’t know the immigration interpreter code of conduct.
Using a bilingual friend or a family member, who had no formal training, to provide interpretation for an immigration interview might reduce the applicant’s chances of a successful interview.
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