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DHS issues a temporary rule requiring the use of USCIS-contracted telephonic interpreters in asylum interviews

  1. Original Date Announced

    September 23, 2020

    DHS announces a temporary final rule which requires asylum applicants who speak one of 47 listed languages to use USCIS-contract telephonic interpreters rather than their own interpreters for their asylum interviews, effective until March 22, 2021. Those who speak languages not on the list will be required to bring their own interpreters to the interviews. In justifying this rule, USCIS cites safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to minimize in-person contact. [ID #1052]

    DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY 8 CFR Part 208 [CIS No. 2671-20; DHS Docket No. USCIS-2020-0017] RIN 1615-AC59 Asylum Interview Interpreter Requirement Modification Due to COVID-19
  2. Effective Date

    September 23, 2020
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  4. Biden Administration Action: Approved/Retained

    March 22, 2021

    2021.03.22 Asylum Interview Interpreter Requirement Modification Due to COVID–19

    This Biden administration policy extends the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On March 22, 2021, USCIS and DHS issued an extension of the temporary final rule requiring USCIS-contract telephonic interpreters to assist asylum applicants in interviews.

    View Document
  5. Biden Administration Action: Approved/Retained

    September 17, 2021

    2021.09.17 Asylum Interview Interpreter Requirement Modification Due to COVID-19

    This Biden administration policy extends the Trump-era policy identified in this entry.

    On September 17, 2021, USCIS and DHS again issued an extension of the temporary final rule requiring USCIS-contract telephonic interpreters to assist asylum applicants in interviews. The temporary final rule is now set to expire on March 16, 2022.

    View Document

Current Status

Fully in Effect
March 22, 2021
Acted on by Biden Administration
September 17, 2021
Acted on by Biden Administration

Original Trump Policy Status

Status: Final/Actual
Trump Administration Action: Rule
Agencies Affected: USCIS

Pre Trump-Era Policies

  • June 26, 2020

    USCIS regulations state that asylum applicants unable to proceed in English with their asylum interviews "must provide, at no expense to the Service, "a competent interpreter fluent in both English and the applicant's native language or any other language in which the applicant is fluent.”

    8 CFR § 208.9 - Procedure for interview before an asylum officer.

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