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In recent years, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has become increasingly stringent in ensuring that its document translation requirements are met. To avoid delays in processing your petition or application, you must fully comply with USCIS requirements for certified translations.

When you file an adjustment of status application with the USCIS, you must often submit copies of personal documents, such as birth or marriage certificates, among others that may be requested on a case-by-case basis.

But what if the documents are not in English?

USCIS translation requirements state that all forms must be submitted in English. Any documents or affidavits accompanying the application must also be in English.

If any necessary documents are not in English, the USCIS requires that a certified translation be filed.

This requirement is clearly stated in the Code of Federal Regulations Title 8 Section 103.2 (8 CFR 103.2): "(3)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."

By submitting accurate certified translations of documents first time around, you can avoid problems such as delays in processing or receiving an RFE ("Request for Evidence").

Consequences of Submitting Deficient Translations to USCIS

People who need a translation for the USCIS may think that using Google Translate or another online translator for their personal documents is acceptable. It is well known that automated programs are not the best translators. Automatic translators work with computer software using artificial intelligence to translate, however, they do not parse the text and create a transient result from which the text is generated in the target language. Evidently, it omits extensive lexicons with morphological, syntactic and semantic information, often producing very poor results.

Similarly, bilingual applicants may be tempted to translate their own documents. However, none of these methods qualify as either a certified translation or a sworn translation.

In addition to this essential requirement, there are other elements to consider:


Documents must be translated completely and directly, including signatures, scripts, stamps, etc. If something is not clear, then the English translation should include the word "illegible". The translation must match the visual format of the document, i.e. the stamps must be in the same places.


Accuracy is extremely vital when it comes to official government documents. It is important to ensure that the translations you send are as accurate as possible. It is important to take this requirement VERY seriously and make sure that the certified translations are as accurate as possible. Correct terminology is very important.

Notarial Authentication

If the document is being submitted to USCIS, the certified translation must be signed by the translator and stamped and in some cases further authenticated by a notary, as per the instructions given.

An apostille itself is not an additional document. An apostille is a seal that legitimises the content of the document it covers. It is required when a document issued in a country is to have legal effect. Public documents from countries that are not signatories to the Hague Convention that are to take effect in another country, in the case of the United States, must also undergo the legalisation procedure, although in a manner different from that of the apostille - by means of an authentication. In both cases it must be processed before proceeding with the translation since it forms part of the body of the same document.

The best way to ensure that your USCIS translations are done correctly is to hire the services of a professional translator with experience in certified translations.

The immigration process is a complicated matter for which you will wait months or even years before obtaining your residency or citizenship. At the same time, the presentation of documents, and above all, the way they are presented, can involve many aspects. If a proper translation is not submitted, your case may be denied. Don't take any chances and hire the services of experienced and proven professionals for your certified translation needs! As ever, thanks for reading.

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