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Asylum seekers banned from bringing interpreters with them to interviews

Asylum seekers in the United States will not be able to bring a trusted interpreter to their interviews for the next six months, but the federal government is promising to provide them with a free telephone interpreter alternative. This is stated on USCIS website.

Photo: Shutterstock

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it will provide free translators for 180 languages ​​who will come for asylum interviews over the next 47 days. The rule introduced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus will be in effect from September 23 to March 23, 2021.

“By providing contracted telephone interpreters, the risk of COVID-19 infection for applicants, attorneys, translators and USCIS staff will be reduced by fewer people attending asylum interviews in person,” the agency said in a new ruling. "In addition, it may make it easier for the applicant to find an interpreter on his own, and USCIS will be able to conduct additional asylum interviews because there will be more office space that will not be occupied by translators."

Previously, if the asylum seeker did not bring an interpreter with him and did not speak English, his hearing was postponed, which meant a longer wait for the applicant.

Now you can only invite your own translator if your native language is not on the list of 47, which includes:

  • Akan
  • албанский
  • Amharic
  • арабский
  • Armenian
  • Azerbaijani
  • Bengal
  • Burmese
  • Cantonese
  • Creole / Haitian Creole
  • Afghan Farsi / Dari
  • Iranian Farsi
  • fu chow / fuzhou
  • французский
  • грузинский
  • Gujarati
  • Hindi
  • hmong
  • венгерский
  • indonesian / bahasa
  • Konjobal
  • корейский
  • Kurdish
  • lingala
  • mom
  • mandarin
  • Nepali
  • Pashto
  • Portuguese
  • punjabi
  • kish / quiche
  • румынский
  • Russian
  • сербский
  • Sinhalese
  • Somali
  • Spanish
  • suahili
  • Tagalog
  • тамильский
  • tigrinya
  • Turkish
  • twi
  • Ukrainian
  • урду
  • Uzbek
  • вьетнамский

An asylum hearing includes an in-person interview and filing a paper application with USCIS. This usually occurs some time after the asylum seeker has arrived at the port of entry seeking protection from persecution in another country.

On the subject: USCIS has extended the deadline for responding to immigration requests: what you need to know

Translators contracted by USCIS undergo background checks and qualifications. Some of them are already conducting control interviews at the border and are monitoring translators invited from outside.

Immigrant advocates in El Paso said they welcome efforts to protect the health of their clients, as long as it does not affect the legal process.

“I believe this is positive for the people we serve. It is a good step to provide these contractual translators who are paid by the government, ”said Linda Rivas, executive director of the Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso.

Rivas urged not only USCIS, but all federal agencies dealing with immigration issues to consider expanding their technology, including video conferencing.

"While we know that there is no substitute for one-to-one contact, in this situation, out of caution, I think all government agencies dealing with immigration, including USCIS, should really pay attention to video conferencing that will help lawyers have better access to their clients." , - she said.

Read also on ForumDaily:

USCIS has extended the deadline for responding to immigration requests: what you need to know

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'Your status depends on the mail': how delays in the US Postal Service decide the fate of immigrants

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