U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has issued a reminder to affirmative asylum applicants about an important change in interview procedures, effective September 13, 2023. If you are an affirmative asylum applicant and are not proficient in English or prefer to conduct your interview in a language other than English, it is now your responsibility to bring a qualified interpreter to the asylum interview.
The only exception to this requirement is for those who require sign language interpreters due to hearing impairments. USCIS will continue to provide sign language interpreters as a disability accommodation, and you can request this service according to the instructions on your interview notice.
Failure to provide an interpreter or to establish good cause for not doing so may result in USCIS considering it a failure to appear for your interview, which could lead to the dismissal of your asylum application or its referral to an immigration judge. Good cause determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis.
To meet the requirement, your interpreter must be fluent in both English and the language you prefer to use during the interview, and they must be at least 18 years old. Importantly, the interpreter cannot be your attorney or accredited representative, a witness testifying on your behalf, a representative or employee of your home country's government (or your last habitual residence if stateless), or an individual with a pending asylum application who has not yet been interviewed.
This change in the interpretation requirement marks a return to the longstanding regulatory standard for affirmative asylum applicants as USCIS phases out previous measures taken during the COVID-19 pandemic.