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

  1. Date Announced

    Sept. 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]

    See Biden administration action below.

    View Policy Document
  2. Effective Date of Change

    Sept. 23, 2020
  3. Biden Administration Action

    March 22, 2021

    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.

    2021.03.22 Asylum Interview Interpreter Requirement Modification Due to COVID–19
Status: Final/Actual
Type of Action: Rule
Agencies Affected: USCIS

Prior Policies

  • 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.

Biden Administration Action

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