Do I Need an Interpreter for My Adjustment of Status (Green Card) Interview?

If you are not comfortable speaking English, learn how an interpreter can assist you during your green card interview.

By , J.D.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not provide foreign language interpreters at adjustment of status (green card) interviews in the United States. A few of their officers speak Spanish or other languages, but you can't count on getting a bilingual officer, nor can you request one.

If you are not comfortable speaking about important matters in English, you will need to bring a friend or hire an interpreter to attend your adjustment of status interview. Even if your U.S. petitioner—that is, the spouse, parent, or other party who is sponsoring you for U.S. lawful permanent residence—is capable of interpreting for you, the USCIS interviewing officer might not allow it. That's particularly true in a marriage-based case, because it reduces the officer's ability to compare both spouse's answers and detect marriage frauds.

Does the Interpreter I Choose Need to Be a Paid Professional?

The interpreter you bring to your USCIS interview does not have to be a trained or licensed professional. The only eligibility requirements are that they be over the age of 18 and fluent in both your language and in English. Some USCIS officers also require that the interpreter be a legal resident or citizen of the United States (of course, if they are here unlawfully, they would be foolish to walk into a USCIS office).

Do I Need to Prepare Any Paperwork to Use an Interpreter?

You and the interpreter will have to jointly submit a form called Form G-1256, Declaration for Interpreted USCIS Interview. This form advises you about the importance of using a competent interpreter. It also requires the interpreter to adhere to the principle that they must accurately, literally, and fully interpret what's being said, and keep the information confidential.

Both you and the interpreter will be asked to sign this form at the start of your adjustment of status interview.

Tips on Using an Interpreter at Your USCIS Interview

Interpreting is no easy task, even for someone fluent in two or more languages. Whoever you bring should practice with you beforehand, going over your application and getting familiar with the vocabulary used there.

You should also remember, during the interview, not to give any overly long answers. If you don't give the interpreter a chance to step in regularly, the interpreter is likely to forget your full answer, and some of it could get lost—leading to confusion or misunderstandings with the USCIS officer.

Getting Legal Help

To make sure your immigration case goes smoothly, it is best to contact an experienced immigration attorney for help. The attorney can analyze your case, spot any trouble areas, recommend qualified interpreters, and appear with you at your adjustment of status interview.

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