I am a citizen of China and a practicing Catholic. I was persecuted in China on account of my religion. My friend, who speaks English, came with me to my asylum interview and acted as my translator. Because he is not Catholic, my friend could not translate some of the religious terms and the officer said I was not credible. My case was referred to Immigration Court. Can I fix this?
Once an asylum case is referred to immigration court, the asylum office no longer has jurisdiction to handle the case. This means that you cannot request another interview at the asylum office with another translator.
Although you may be fearful of the court hearing, it is important that you attend. If you don’t, the immigration judge can order you removed to China even though you are not present in court.
When you first meet the judge, you can explain that you need an interpreter, and the court will provide one who speaks your preferred dialect for free. The judge will make sure that you and the interpreter understand one another and will even adjourn your case until an interpreter is available who speaks your language. Court interpreters are usually very good at translating and are used to language used by refugees, including those with religious claims.
Both the prosecuting attorney and the immigration judge will have access to your immigration file. Your file will contain everything you submitted to the Asylum Office as well as any other immigration-related paperwork you have submitted elsewhere. The prosecuting attorney can see the notes taken by the asylum officer at your interview. If the prosecuting attorney introduces these notes to the court as evidence, the immigration judge will also see the interview notes. The Asylum Officer notes should clearly indicate what questions he or she asked and what you answered through the translator.
It is unfortunate that many cases are lost at the asylum office because the translator did not accurately translate what the applicant was saying. Make sure all your documents are translated correctly this time around, and be sure to include a certified English translation with any foreign documents you submit.