U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a fourth extension to a temporary final rule (TFR) that necessitates the use of a USCIS interpreter during specific affirmative asylum interviews. This extension prolongs the requirement until September 12, 2023. Subsequent to this date, affirmative asylum applicants unable to proceed with the interview in English will be responsible for providing their own interpreters.
Anticipating the expiration of the federal declaration of a public health emergency for COVID-19 in May 2023, extending the TFR beyond this period serves to provide public notice of the impending expiration and ensures a smooth and efficient return to the previous practice.
According to the TFR, specific asylum applicants are mandated to utilize USCIS’ contract telephonic interpreters instead of bringing their own interpreters to their affirmative asylum interviews. USCIS contract interpreters are available in 47 languages, as listed on the TFR webpage, and there is no fee associated with using a government-provided interpreter. In instances where an applicant does not speak English or any of the 47 listed languages, they must arrange for their own interpreter for the affirmative asylum interview.
This extension also maintains a prior modification, stipulating that under limited circumstances, if a USCIS interpreter is unavailable, USCIS will either reschedule the affirmative asylum interview or, at its discretion, permit the applicant to provide an interpreter.