One of the many requirements when submitting documents to USCIS related to your immigration case is a certified translation of any document that is not in English. Typically, these include birth certificates, divorce certificates, marriage certificates, academic degrees, death certificates, passports, bank statements, police records, transcripts, affidavits, and so more. The exact requirements are laid out in the code of Federal Regulations, 8 CFR 103.2(b)(3). The section below falls under the requirement of USCIS Certified translations.
Any document containing foreign language submitted to USCIS shall be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.
In addition to these criteria, USCIS may at any point request the original document to review. If you fail to provide an original document, if requested, you risk having your case denied.
USCIS Translation Requirements
As part of the documents, including the translation, another USCIS requirement is that the translator certifies that the translation is accurate with a signed Certificate of Translation Accuracy. Several services online offer certified translations that are translated by professionals and delivered to you digitally. Some of these services also offer notarization and expedited turnaround times if you need the documents urgently.
Learn about Family-Based Green Card Requirements.
Measures for Certified Translation
There are three main measures for a certified translation: complete, correct, and proficient.
The first measure, complete, means that there is no information missing from the original document to the English translation. The format of the certified translation should also mirror the original document.
The second measure, correct, means all the information has been accurately translated. Again, a professional translator is the most qualified person to ensure the information is correctly translated.
The final crucial measure is proficiency. USCIS requires the translation to be certified because if it is found that the information is not correct and complete, the translator will be held responsible. What’s more, if USCIS needs to clarify something on the certified translation, they will contact the translator with their contact information on the certification.
Should you not provide any USCIS document translation, your case will more than likely be denied.
USCIS Translation Requirements for Birth Certificate
The applicant must include the following information in a USCIS-approved birth certificate translation:
- First, last and middle name
- Date of birth
- Location of birth
- Parents’ full names
- Seal verifying that it is official
The applicant should submit the USCIS document translation of the birth certificate and a photocopy of the original birth certificate. The visual structure of the translation needs to match the original, including signatures, stamps, etc. What if some of the text is not legible? In these cases, the certified translator will mark it as “illegible.”
Find out how you can Sponsor Your Parents for a Green Card.
The certified translator should type the translation you receive, and while it is not required for it to be notarized, many professional translation services offer notarization.
What to Look for in USCIS Translation Services
You should look for a company that is reputable, has professional translators completing the work and knows how to certify it based on the USCIS requirements. They will need to certify that the translation is “complete, accurate and done by a proficient translator.” Don’t just assume you can use any translator for this service because not all of them are certified.
Some online services will even offer a quote to see how much it will cost to translate your document and how much time it will take. Your immigration attorney will likely have a service that they trust and can recommend or maybe even someone on staff who can handle it for you.
Avoid Having Your Documents Rejected
To avoid your translated document being rejected, it is always advised to use a professional translator or translation company. If USCIS has issues with a translated document you submit, they will send a Request for Evidence (RFE). That could be because parts of the translation are inaccurate, seem inauthentic, are missing information, etc. To avoid receiving an RFE and adding additional processing time to your case, use a professional translator.
Common Immigration Documents That Require USCIS Certified Translation
There are a lot of documents that usually must be translated, some of the examples are listed below:
- Marriage certificates
- Foreign diplomas
- Criminal records
- Police records
- School transcripts
- Birth certificates
- Published or publicized work
- Divorce certificates or decree
Most often, marriage certificates and birth certificates are the most commonly requested documents to be translated but any of the aforementioned documents may also be required.
Not sure how to obtain one of these documents? Use the USCIS Reciprocity Page to learn how to obtain these civil documents from the country* you have selected, as well as the location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you can apply for your visa.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below you will find answers to some of the most common questions about the topic:
What does “certified” translation mean?
A certified translation comes with a signed statement stating that the translation is complete and accurate. It is sometimes also referred to as a certificate of accuracy. You may come across sites or people who claim to be certified translators. Still, it is important to understand the difference between getting a certified translation and using a certified translator. There are cases where an independent translator will not be able to provide a “certified” translation. For that reason, always inquire if the translation itself will be certified by a professional service.
What’s the difference between a certified translator and a certified translation?
If someone markets themselves as a “certified translator,” that means they have passed an exam to check their proficiency in the language in a professional capacity. There is not always a certification exam in all countries, and not all countries require translators to be certified. A certified translation comes with a signed statement vouching that the translation is complete and accurate.
What happens if my translated documents are rejected?
If USCIS believes a translation has inaccuracies or is inauthentic, they may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). You should review this with your attorney to avoid additional delays in your case. Due to the possible ramifications in these cases, we highly recommend using a reputable translation service.
Can my friend translate the document for USCIS?
Even if your friend is fluent in both languages, they cannot translate the document. Therefore, you need to obtain a certified translation of the document to meet USCIS requirements.
Does USCIS require certified translation?
If you are required to submit any document for your immigration case and the version you have is in non-English, it will require a certified translation along with the certificate from the translator stating that it is accurate, complete, and the translator was proficient.
Can I translate documents for USCIS myself?
No, you cannot translate your own birth certificate or diploma, for example, and then send it as supporting documentation for your immigration case. Instead, a professional certified translator or translation company should carry out the translations.
Am I able to use Google translate tool?
No, the Google translate tool does not meet USCIS document translation requirements.
Does the translation need to be notarized?
It does not necessarily need to be notarized. Many professional translating services offer this as part of their services, and it does not hurt your case at all. It just reinforces the legitimacy and acts as an identifier of the translation.
Does USCIS accept summary translations?
In some cases, when the entire original document is filled with unnecessary information, an official extract or summary can be provided by the authorized official of the record. Still, it must contain all the information necessary to decide on the case. Therefore, a summary from a translator will not suffice.
Who can translate legal documents for USCIS?
Anyone who is fluent in both languages and is willing to prepare a statement and sign it saying the translation is a true and accurate translation of the original. You always have the option to hire a professional certified translator or translation company if you are unsure. Doing so can avoid additional delays or Requests for Evidence from USCIS.
What do immigration translation services typically cost?
While the price can vary, expect to pay anywhere from $20-$80 per page for a professional immigration translation service.
Is it worth it to use a professional translation company?
It can be worthwhile to use a professional translation company because if USCIS has any concerns about the translation, they can contact the translation company directly. Using a professional service also alleviates many concerns about whether it meets USCIS standards because these companies know exactly how to fulfill USCIS requirements and generally have high approval rates due to the high quality of their work.