EP39: Certified Translation For USCIS, Is It Necessary?

Is a certified translation for USCIS required? The answer to this question is complicated but I would say “Yes” and “No,” here’s why…

All documents that are submitted to USCIS must be in English. There is no getting around this fact

This means that we should translate all foreign language documents to be submitted to USCIS and NVC into English.

However, many applicants are confused about whether a certified translation needs to be completed by a professional.

But you do have another option: do-it-yourself.

In this podcast episode, we’ll learn which documents need to be translated, when you need to send them to USCIS or NVC and how to translate them.

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The Basics On Certified Translation for USCIS

Translations are important for USCIS processing because the primary language of the United States is English.

This means that the adjudicators and immigration officers may not be fluent in your own language. This makes it impossible for them to understand what’s written on those civil documents.

Before we get into the details of certified translations for USCIS, let’s go over some basic information you should know.

  • Gather All Documents That Apply To You.

    • Before you begin to gather your civil documents, make sure that you know what you need to submit.
    • You can do this by going to either the USCIS website or the DOS website to find out what the required documents are.
    • Documents can include birth certificate, naturalization certificate, divorce decree, etc.

certified translation for USCIS documents

Source: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/the-immigrant-visa-process/collect-and-submit-forms-and-documents-to-the-nvc/step-5-collect-supporting-documents.html

  • Send a photocopy of all the required civil documents.

    • Remember to only send copies to USCIS. If you send your originals, you may not always get them back or it may be a hassle to retrieve them.
    • The petitioner should hold on to any originals in case USCIS calls you in for an appointment to see them in person.
    • At the NVC stage, you should also send copies instead of originals.
    • Originals may be sent to the beneficiary (marriage certificate) before the interview.

copy of marriage certificate

Related Podcast: 4 Ways To Get The Best US Immigration Help!

  • Bring the original documents (or certified copies) plus a photocopy to your visa interview

    • The reason you want to bring the originals and a copy is that the consular officer may want to keep a copy of it.
    • You don’t want to only bring your original civil document to the interview and the consular officer keeps it.
  • All documents not written in English must have certified translations.

    • When translating documents, you’ll need to include a certified translation.
    • Certified translations do not need to be notarized.
    • Anyone can translate your civil documents.
    • If you or anyone else will be translating, you must include a certified translation.
  • The translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that:

    • The translation is accurate, and
    • The translator is competent to translate.

List Of Civil Documents To Send To USCIS

There are a number of civil documents to include with your petition before sending it to USCIS.

Thankfully, not all documents are required for all applicants. For example, if you’ve never been divorced you will not need a divorce decree. Make sure that you are only including the documents that apply to you.

Civil Documents To Include With The I-130:

  • Petitioner’s U.S. birth certificate; GC
  • Divorce decrees of the petitioner;
  • Marriage certificate of petitioner and beneficiary;
  • Divorce decree and certified translation for the beneficiary;

US birth certificate

Civil Documents To Include With The I-129F:

  • Petitioner’s US birth certificate
  • Divorce decree of the petitioner (if married before)
  • Divorce decree of the beneficiary (if married before)

Related Podcast: EP29: Evidence To Include With Your I-129F Petition

Related Post: What Happens After Submitting The I-130?

List Of Civil Documents To Send To NVC

The following list of civil documents is needed by the National Visa Center. Remember, not all documents will be required of all applicants so it’s important that you only submit them if they apply to you.

Additionally, NVC will send you a welcome letter once your petition is approved highlighting the next steps for you. Try to follow these instructions carefully so that you submit everything they need the first time.

This process already takes a long time to complete, you definitely don’t want to slow things down by making a mistake!

Civil Documents To Send To NVC (I-130 applicants):

  • Police clearance certificate + translation (beneficiary)
  • Birth certificate + translation (beneficiary)
  • Birth certificate + translation (dependents)
  • Court and Prison records
  • Military records
  • Adoption decree (for any children)

police clearance certificate

Civil Documents To Send To NVC (I-129F applicants):

  • Police clearance certificate + translation (beneficiary)
  • Birth certificate + translation (beneficiary)
  • Birth certificate + translation (dependents)
  • Court and Prison records
  • Military records

Related Podcast: Applying For A K1 or CR1 Visa With A Criminal Record

Related Post: I-130 Petitioner Has A Criminal Record

How To Write A Certified Translation Letter?

The good news is that you don’t need to pay a lot of money to have a professional company complete the translation.

Anyone who is fluent in English and the foreign language is able to do the translation.

The only catch is that they must sign a certificate of translation letter before USCIS will accept it. Don’t worry! Writing this letter is pretty easy and I’m going to show you how.

Follow these steps to write your own certified translation for USCIS:

  • Step 1: Include a statement that confirms you are competent to translate.
    • “I, John Doe, am competent to translate from Spanish into English, and certify that the translation of the birth certificate is true and accurate to the best of my abilities.”
  • Step 2: Sign the letter as a translator.
    • In this step, you’ll want to include yourself as the translator. Simply write your full legal name in this field.
  • Step 3: Include your full address.
    • Your address is important when submitting the certified translation for USCIS. This can be used to run background checks or pay your visit to confirm everything you’ve said.
  • Step 4: Include your phone number.
    • USCIS asks for your phone number so that they can call you in the event that they need to confirm anything.
  • Step 5: Write the date at the bottom of the letter.
    • Finally, include the date that you translated the document.

Below is a sample certificate of translation that you can download and use.

certificate of translation sample

Summary: Providing Certified Translation For USCIS

In summary, any document submitted to USCIS must be in English. This can’t be avoided and applies to all I-129F and I-130 applicants.

Next, make sure you have a friend or family member (or yourself) translate the civil documents if you won’t use a professional service.

If you are doing-it-yourself, you’ll need to provide a certified translation letter to confirm the translation is accurate and that you certify that you are fluent in both languages.

Interestingly, I haven’t heard of any couples getting a request for evidence if they translated the documents themselves. So, give it a try and let me know what you think!


Author: Ayan

Ayan is the founder of the Migrant Academy community and the My Path To Citizenship Podcast. She has successfully helped hundreds of couples and families achieve their goal of visa and green card approval. U.S immigration can be difficult and confusing, Ayan simplifies the process so that you feel confident and reassured.

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