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USCIS Extends Rule Providing Interpreters at Affirmative Asylum Interviews

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced the fourth extension to a temporary final rule (TFR) that requires the use of a USCIS interpreter at certain affirmative asylum interviews. This TFR has been extended through September 12, 2023. After that date, affirmative asylum applicants who cannot proceed with the interview in English must provide their own interpreters.

The TFR was put in place to ensure that certain asylum applicants use USCIS contract telephonic interpreters instead of bringing their own interpreter to the interview. USCIS contract interpreters are available in 47 languages, which are listed on the TFR webpage. There is no fee to use a government-provided interpreter. If an applicant does not speak English or any of the 47 languages listed, they must bring their own interpreter to the affirmative asylum interview.

This extension also includes a previous modification, which states that in limited circumstances where a USCIS interpreter is not available, the affirmative asylum interview will either be rescheduled or, at the discretion of USCIS, the applicant will be allowed to provide an interpreter.

USCIS anticipates that the federal declaration of a public health emergency for COVID-19 will expire in May 2023. Extending this TFR until after that declaration expires will provide public notice that the TFR is expiring and help ensure an orderly and efficient return to prior practice.

It is important to note that USCIS is not required to provide an interpreter in all cases, and asylum applicants who are able to proceed with their interview in English are not affected by this TFR.

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