Immigration Interviews: A Guide for New Interpreters

Quality immigration interpreters are not necessarily hard to find, but if you don't speak English the process of procuring one for an immigration interview can compound problems. As a new immigration interpreter, you may be wondering "how do I find work? How can I offer quality service to my clients?" Most governments of developed nations like the United States, encourage the use of interpreters for immigration interviews; but when the responsibility of finding a competent interpreter falls on a Limited English Proficient (LEP) or non-English speaking adult- you want to make sure your services are as visible as possible.

What are Some Signs of a Great Immigration Interpreter?

Quality immigration interpreters really make all the difference for an upcoming interview, hearing or whatever proceeding your case requires. As a new interpreter you want to make sure you are delivering top-notch services to your clients for their big day. Although every interpreter has their own individual style, there are some qualities and signs of a great interpreter.

Qualities of Good Immigration Interpreters

Here are just a few:

  • Interpreters should be bilingual and have an extensive vocabulary in both languages. When you stop to think about it, the immigration process is a formal procedure and therefore requires formal language. It should be expected that formal language will be used so make sure your vocabulary fits the requirements for your client.
  • A good interpreter will have an exceptional memory, recalling words quickly without breaking the organic flow of conversation. Since the conversations you will have for an immigration interview or proceeding will take place in real-time, you will not have the time to look up words in the dictionary or encyclopedia.
  • Seasoned interpreters know how to act and what to do when walking into the interview room. A tell-tale sign of a great interpreter is that they take their seat diagonally behind the client during the proceeding. Essentially, they are making sure to be heard and not seen. Doing so will allow the interview to occur naturally with the interviewer looking at and speaking to your client and vice versa. This small, but effective technique reduces the risk of miscommunication which maximizes your client's chances of clearing the interview.
  • Schedule a pre-session. While this is also not required, it allows for acquaintances to be made, general questions to be answered and an opportunity to set expectations for their big day. Even if this time is not accounted for ahead of the immigration interview, a great interpreter knows to schedule extra time. Let's say the interview only takes one hour- you, a great interpreter- know you should schedule at least 2 hours for your appointment. Interpreting conversation takes time and your client may have questions afterwards to address. A good interpreter knows and prepares for this.

Where do Immigration Interpreters Find Work?

Interpreters can be found in a variety of different places in many local communities and online. Once trained, many immigration interpreters go on to find work at law offices, courtrooms and law offices. For those not scared of a challenge, freelance work can provide more opportunity, better more flexible scheduling opportunities and the ability to set your own rate.

Here are just a few examples of where you can offer immigration interpreting services:

How to find an Immigration Interpreter
  • Build an online profile on Fiverr and get your business off the ground
  • Join a University foreign language program
  • Become a member of an organization like the American Translators' Association
  • Non-profit human rights and interpreter organizations
  • Register with your city or town

After completing training, it would be wise to get your services posted on more than 1 platform, especially if you are offering freelance work. If the goal is to start translating as soon as possible, think like someone looking for translating services. Where would they search for a translator? They may contact their local city or town hall to be put in contact with a translator, or search Google. Whether you want to pursue employment opportunities with a courtroom or offer freelance interpreting in languages like SpanishPortugueseArabicRussianChineseHaitian Creole or Vietnamese, Language connections can help you make your dreams come true.

Get the necessary online interpreter training in order to become a competent professional interpreter. Register now for one of our online interpreter training programs: Online Medical Interpreter Training, Online Legal Interpreter Training, Online Immigration Interpreter TrainingOnline Community & Business Interpreter Training, or familiarize yourself with different types of interpreting and start developing your interpreting skills in our Introduction to Interpreting training program.

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Molly Romano

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