USCIS: New policy for use of interpreters during interviews

A new policy for the use of interpreters during domestic interviews with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) went into effect yesterday.  At the start of this year, USCIS released a policy that established new guidelines for use of interpreters at interviews.  In the past, officers informally handled this; an interpreter would be asked to present her identification and take an oath.  She would promise that she was fluent in both languages and would acutely translate from the native langue to/from English.  Interpreters and the interviewee must sign a G-1256 form at the start of every interview and in addition, they must have the following qualifications:

  • Fluent in both languages;
  • Able to accurately interpret;
  • Without bias (must disclose if there is a relationship between the interviewee and the interpreter);
  • Must be older than 18 years of age (some exceptions); and
  • Cannot be the attorney or legal representative.

The officer has the discretion to move forward with the interview or request that it be reschedule if s/he feels that the interpreter is not performing the duties as required.  Here are some examples of why an interpreter may be disqualified:

  • The interpreter is clearly testifying for the interviewee and refuses to cease and interpret only what the interviewee states.
  • The interpreter is obviously coaching the interviewee.
  • The interpreter is embellishing or changing answers, or altering the questions and refuses to cease doing so when the officer requests.
  • The interpreter and the interviewee clearly appear to be consulting or collaborating on the responses to the officer’s questions and refuse to cease at the officer’s request.
  • The interpreter appears to be inhibiting the interviewee’s testimony.


For more information, please see the USCIS practice manual at

Our experienced immigration attorney, Lesley Ellefson-Porras, has assisted countless immigrants with family reunification; citizenship, fiancé visas and unlawful presence waivers.  She is available to meet with you in her office in Alexandria, Virginia.  Since immigration is a federal matter, Ms. Ellefson-Porras can serve clients from anywhere in the United States.  Most of her clients reside in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  Contact her today at 703-596-0235.