Can we bring a translator to our spouse-based green card interview?
Hi. I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer, practicing law throughout the United States at our offices in St. Louis, San Diego, and Washington, D.C. We just had a question out of our Immigrant Home Facebook group, and I thought I’d make this short video to answer it.
Eunice was wondering:
Can we bring a translator to our green card interview? My husband’s English is not that good.
And of course we see that both ways. It’s not necessarily the husband or the wife, it’s usually the foreign national who has not-as-strong English skills as the US citizen. I have seen situations where it was the US citizen who didn’t have the great English skills. But in any event, the question is:
Can we bring a translator to the actual interview?
And the answer to this question is:
Yes, you can bring a translator to the interview.
And then the next question is:
Should you bring a translator to the interview?
Yes, you should.
Your spouse, especially the foreign national if they’re the ones trying to get the green card, are the ones with the weak English, they’re going to be asked a lot of technical questions. And I think that you should insist on allowing them to bring a translator into the office for the interview.
Now some officers might give you pushback. Some officers might not want to do it that way. You should ask to speak to a supervisor and tell them that you want to have this translator there, because they’re asking you to swear under oath that everything you say is true and that you understand all the questions that are being asked of you.
Now Eunice said that her husband could tell that the USCIS-provided translator was not translating correctly. And that’s one of the major problems with relying on USCIS: number one, they might not have a translator available; number two, they might not want to give you a translator; and number three, the translator that they give you might not be very good. So you’re going to be much better off paying someone to come as a translator and to serve in that role.
Now in a marriage-based case, there is that issue of, “Well how does the spouse communicate with the US citizen or the green card holder/sponsor? How do they talk to each other?” So hopefully there’s some commonality in the languages that both people speak. We’ve had very few cases where the petitioner and the beneficiary both speak very different languages, so usually we can get through the idea that the couple is able to communicate with each other. But you want to have that translator on call to make sure that when they’re answering the officer’s questions, that all the questions are answered correctly.
Now a lot of times people will just have the petitioner serve as the translator. I think this is not always a good idea, and it can lead to some real problems: number one, the officer might resent it and they might not like you answering the questions; number two, while answering the questions through translation, they might want you the translator to be the one answering the question. So it just causes a lot of confusion. So if I were you and you can afford it, I would bring a translator and I would ask very forcefully that the translator be allowed to attend the interview and to translate for the foreign national. This is especially true if they’re going to separate you, but it’s true. In most cases. I would say push for a translator, don’t rely on the government’s translator, and just make sure that you and the translator are on the same page before the interview starts.
If you have any questions about this, or if you’re thinking about filing a marriage-based green card case, give us a call: 314-961-8200. You can email us email@example.com. Be sure to join us in our Facebook group, which is called Immigrant Home. If you like this video, we ask that you please share it out on social and that you subscribe to our YouTube channel so that you can get updates whenever I make videos just like this one. And don’t forget, on Tuesdays and Thursdays we have our Immigration Live show. We’d love to have you join us, and we will try to answer your immigration-related questions there. That’s usually at noon central on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Thanks a lot and have a great day.