Starting Sept. 13, 2023, affirmative asylum applicants must bring an interpreter to their asylum interview if they are not fluent in English or wish to proceed with their interview in a language other than English.
If an affirmative asylum applicant needs an interpreter and does not bring one, or if their interpreter is not fluent in English and a language the applicant speaks, and the applicant does not establish good cause, USCIS may consider this a failure to appear for the interview and may dismiss the asylum application or refer the asylum application to an immigration judge. We will determine good cause on a case-by-case basis.
- The interpreter must be fluent in English and a language the applicant speaks fluently and must be at least 18 years old.
- The interpreter must not be:
- The applicant’s attorney or accredited representative;
- A witness testifying on the applicant’s behalf;
- A representative or employee of the government of the applicant’s country of nationality (or, if they are stateless, their country of last habitual residence); or
- An individual with a pending asylum application who has not yet been interviewed.
On Sept. 23, 2020, USCIS published a temporary final rule (TFR) requiring affirmative asylum applicants to use our contracted telephonic interpreters for their asylum interviews, instead of bringing an interpreter to the interview. We published this TFR to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during asylum interviews with USCIS asylum officers while the COVID-19 national emergency and public health emergency were in effect. We published four subsequent TFRs extending the requirement, with the current extension effective through Sept. 12, 2023. This fourth extension provided additional time after the national and public health emergencies expired to allow USCIS to prepare to return to the prior regulatory requirement. With the expiration of the TFR, we will be reverting back to the long-standing regulatory requirement for an affirmative asylum applicant to provide an interpreter under 8 CFR 208.9(g).