Immigration petitions can be filed either at a Consulate or United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”). While the petition or form will be in English, supporting documentation is often required also. For example, an E-2 visa petition is usually accompanied by hundreds of pages of supporting documentation and often that documentation is in the local language. Clients often ask us whether this supporting documentation must be translated.
Does Supporting Visa Documentation have to be Translated?
If you are filing a petition with USCIS then every piece of supporting documentation must be in English. If it is not, you will receive a request for evidence (RFE) asking for a translation and the service could just deny the petition. Generally speaking, the service takes the position that if a document is not in English, it does not exist and they can be very particular about this requirement.
If you are applying for a visa benefit at a U.S. Consulate abroad, many Consulates will accept documents in the local language. If documents are not in English or the local language, they must be translated. While the general rule is that a U. S. Consulate will accept supporting documents in the local language without translation, you should check the Consulate website and/or with the Consular officials as to their policy as some Consulates require translation.
What is Required if a Translation is Required?
We provide our clients with the following guidance regarding translations when they are required.
All documents submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) or an American Consulate must be in English or a translation must accompany the file. If a document is not translated, it does not become part of the immigration official record and for the most part is ignored. PLEASE FOLLOW THESE INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY
There are a few things to note regarding translations.
- If a page has been translated then ALL words on the page must be translated. This includes even if the word does not appear to have a significance. In addition, every single word on a page of complex documents such as tax returns must also be translated.
- As a general rule, you cannot translate the documents yourself and a family member should not translate a document.
- Documents do not have to be translated by an “official” translator but the translator must be fluent in both languages.
- It is not necessary to have the document notarized but it looks more official if you have the document notarized
- The certification format should include the certifier’s name, signature, address, and date of certification. A signed and date letter should take this form:
Certification by Translator
I [typed name], certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the English and [enter appropriate language] languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled [enter title of document].
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