uscis certified document translation services
certified translation services for uscis

Certified Translations for USCIS - Everything You Need to Know

If you’re looking to work, study, or immigrate to the US, you will need to:

  1. Make an immigration application
  2. Get certified translations for your foreign language documents

Who likes either of these?

OK that was a rhetorical question. No need to answer.

We know that immigration applications can be daunting, boring and more importantly, confusing. Several of us on the MotaWord team have been there too.

The goal of this article is to help clarify everything you need to know about certified translations for USCIS applications and thus, enable you to focus on your application, rather than the details.

Sounds good? Let’s begin.

Certified translation of official documents is required for citizenship or naturalization applications by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services).

In case you didn’t know, USCIS is the federal agency that oversees lawful immigration into the United States. This means if you’re looking to work, study, or immigrate to the US, you will need to make an immigration application and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services is the agency in the US handling these applications.

It is imperative that all your foreign language documents be translated into English for USCIS personnel to be able to read and understand the information contained within those documents. This is where you will most likely have to learn about the certified English translation USCIS.

Before we proceed further and provide you all the information you will ever need to know about certified translations for USCIS requirements, let us pause for a quick moment.

If you are ready to move on with your certified translations for USCIS and don't need to read any more about the topic - get your instant quote for a certified translation right here.

No-obligation, 100% free to get a translation quote and truly instant.

OK, now back to more information... Now that you have seen how simple MotaWord makes getting a certified translation quote, read on.

There is a lot of information to review and prepare when it comes to immigration and we know it’s not the most fun thing in life. That’s why we figured we can at least make your life a little better and easier by helping you understand all there is to know about certified translations for USCIS.

We want this article to be your one source to learn everything about certified translations for USCIS and help you save time on searching what you need to do and instead just get it done.

Expect to learn everything from who the USCIS is, to when you need a certified translation services, what are the best ways to get certified translations, and more. We will also be regularly updating this article to ensure that the information contained is current and accurate.

Here we go.

Let’s start with the basics…

What is USCIS?

where to translate documents for immigration

Since 1933, the immigration process to the US has been handled by INS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). INS handled the overseeing of the immigration applications, enforcement and border patrol activities for seventy years until Congress signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002.

The Homeland Security Act’s primary mission is to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States. As you might deduce from the date of effect, this was done right after the horrendous attacks on US soil on September 11, 2001. The focus of course was to reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism, and minimize damage and assist in recovery for terrorist attacks that occur in the United States. Immigration of course was an important factor to consider in this task and in March 2003, USCIS assumed the responsibility of the immigration service functions for the federal government.

Basically, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the part of the federal government that has jurisdiction over citizenship and immigration issues, replacing INS as of March 2003.

Common Documents for USCIS

Legal immigration to the United States happens for different reasons. There are cases where a foreign national might seek refuge in the US (asylum). There is family based immigration, investors willing to live in the US, US employers bringing in foreign workers and of course many special immigrant categories such as adoptions, religious workers, juveniles, etc.

All of these cases require specific supporting evidence that need to be provided as documents and depending on the case, these might be as simple as a birth certificate from the country of origin to “all published works” for a talent based application.

We often find ourselves translating newspaper articles talking about an applicant and their prowess in their field. We have even translated many articles for hairdressers, artists, models and actors.

Here’s a list of the documents usually translated for USCIS:

What is a Certified Translation?

what does certified translation mean

While many people won’t stray from being truthful and would not knowingly falsify information in their application, there are unfortunately those that do. USCIS, in considering an immigration application, reviews information provided from their sources for accuracy. For foreign language documents (such as a birth certificate issued in a foreign language speaking country or school diplomas issued by educational institutions providing education in a foreign language) USCIS workers need to read and understand the documents in English.

This is where an applicant will need the USCIS certified translation of these documents. As an additional measure of security and in order to ensure that there is a certain standard to receiving this information which will make it easily legible for a USCIS officer, a certified translation bearing an attestation is necessary.

In a nutshell, a certified translation is a formal statement in which a translator shows that they have accurately translated a foreign-language document into English.

Any foreign language document must be accompanied by a full English translation that the translator has certified as complete and correct, and by the translator's certification that they are competent to translate the foreign language into English.

It is imperative for a certified translation to be:

  • Complete: There should be no information missing from the translation, no matter how small or insignificant it might seem. The translated copy needs to reflect, both in substance and format, the original language document.
  • Correct: The certified translation of the original language document needs to be done correctly and especially for legal documents and educational documents, the corresponding linguistic terminology needs to be used, which often requires an expert translator.
  • Proficient: The certified translations for USCIS is certified not only for the purpose of paper pushing but for the security that a proficient translator has completed the work and they can be held responsible for the work if need be. This is why many reputable translators and agencies put their contact information on the certification in order to be available should the need for clarification arise. For the sake of your application, these professionals should also be easily accessible for USCIS personnel or your immigration lawyer in case further clarification is needed for your translation.

Who can Translate Legal Documents for USCIS?

how to translate legal documents
According to the Code of Federal Regulations, 8 CFR 103.2(b)(3), “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.”

We were once told by an immigration attorney who constantly visits the Federal Plaza (USCIS location in New York City) for cases that he was amazed to see so many certified translations with the MotaWord letterhead. It certainly helps to have a known brand be used in your application file in order to ensure the ease of application processing, which in itself may already be quite complicated.

But, to get back to the issue at hand, your certified translations need to be done by a professional translator or company who is knowledgeable in providing complete and accurate translations and who knows how to certify their work as per USCIS requirements.

Who Needs USCIS Certified Document Translation Services?

Simply, anyone who is immigrating to the United States of America (USA) or applying for naturalization needs certified translation services.

However, this is not the only time certified translations are needed.

People who are submitting their medical diplomas or transcripts to take the USMLE (US Medical Association Exam) administered by ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) need to have the certified translations of their foreign language diplomas and transcripts.

Foreign students applying for US schools need to have the certified translation of their diplomas and transcripts.

Moreover, legal proceedings that involve foreign parties and discovery documents that are in a foreign language need certified translations. And of course, documents submitted to foreign authorities (consulates, etc.) need to have certified translations - this time from English into whatever the other language is - in order to be processed.

Which Documents Need a Certified Translation?

We touched upon this previously under the “Common documents for USCIS” section, but let’s elaborate a little further.

Any and all documents submitted to support an application or petition are required to also have a certified English translation. This translation must be accompanied by a certification from the translator that attests the translation is both complete, accurate and that the translator is competent. Examples include birth certificates, marriage certificates, college transcripts, and police records.

And it’s important to know what information the USCIS requires in a document. In some cases where the original document is lengthy, countries will issue an ‘extract’ version of the document. These ‘extract’ documents will be accepted only if they contain the required information and if they were produced by an authorized official. (the “keeper of record”)

A competent certified translation provider should be able to answer your questions easily. This is something we prioritize at MotaWord and thus we make ourselves available 24/7 through a “live chat” option where you can get in touch with an expert on our team within minutes.

How Can I Translate My Birth Certificate Into English?

It would be wrong to not touch upon two types of documents when we talk about certified translation for USCIS. Birth certificates and marriage certificates are the two most requested personal documents for translation. While a birth certificate translation is required for nearly all immigration application types, I-485 birth certificate translations for USCIS are what our clients ask us most. I-485 is the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. These applications allow you to become a green card holder through a job offer, asylee status, or refugee status. So to translate birth certificate for green card is the issue we know it is related to I-485. It also is used for the relatives of a US citizen to apply for a green card. As you can see when an official translation of foreign birth certificate is needed the I-485 USCIS application nearly covers all cases. Once again, the questions on "how can I translate a birth certificate?", or "who can translate a birth certificate for immigration?" questions are easily answered by MotaWord's instant translation quote system. By uploading your birth certificate on our platform and clicking on "get translation quote" you will be able to see how much it costs to translate a birth certificate into English and how long it will take. Our quote system is 100% free and you are under no obligation to order the certified translation service. You can just get a quote and compare the level of service and price and see why MotaWord is the leading provider of certified translation service for USCIS.

How Much Does It Cost to Translate a Marriage Certificate?

Marriage certificate translations are especially necessary for N-400, Application for Naturalization process of USCIS. N-400 is the form that is required for the naturalization process. Basically, it is the process of becoming an American citizen for those that were born in another country. Many of the N-400 applicants are married and as such they need a legal marriage certificate translation if it is not in English. And of course, when it comes to translation of marriage certificates for USCIS most people want to find out "how much does it cost to translate a marriage certificate?" If you have read this article of ours, you probably already know that finding out what it would cost to translate a marriage certificate for USCIS is as simple as going to quote page, uploading your certificate in a pdf or jpeg format and just getting an instant quote. when we say INSTANT we mean it. As soon as you upload your marriage certificate for a no-obligation translation quote, our algorithms do a word count and show you instantly how long it would take to translate your document and how much it will cost. The pricing of a marriage certificate translation depends on the country issuing the marriage certificate but it varies between $15 dollars to upwards of $95 dollars for multi-page marriage certificates with a lot of information. Again, rather than asking "where can I translate my marriage certificate?", "how to translate a marriage certificate?", or "how much does it cost to translate a marriage certificate for USCIS?"; just knowing MotaWord provides you with this service and the ability to obtain a translation quote instantly is all you need to remember.

What are USCIS Requirements for Certified Document Translation?

To recap all the information provided above; USCIS requires the certified, English translations of any supporting documentation in a foreign language.

This certified translation needs to be done by a translation provider certifying that “he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English”.

So the certified translation needs to be “complete, accurate and done by a proficient translator.

Now let’s look at your options for certified translations

Do all translators offer this service?

No, not all translation service provides offer certified translation services. Be sure that this service is offered before you engage with any translation service provider. At MotaWord, this is one of our strong skills and in most cases, we will return your certified translation within hours of being submitted.

MotaWord offers USCIS certified translations services. Why not give us a try for your USCIS certified translator needs?

What Should I Look For in a USCIS Certified Translator?

Look for a translation provider certifying that “he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English”.

Can I Translate My Own Document for USCIS?

Bilingual people often ask, and rightfully so, whether they can translate their own documents into English for submission to USCIS.

The answer is “no”. You cannot translate your own birth certificate or diploma into English and submit the translation to USCIS for your application.

Then who can?

A professional certified translator(someone who earns their living doing translations and has experience in providing translation service for documents to be submitted to USCIS) or a translation company that provides this service in multiple languages are your best bet.

Does certified translations for USCIS need to be notarized?

The short answer is "no". USCIS is quite clear on their requirements for document translation.

On their website, which is the sole resource providing information on how immigration related applications should be submitted, the USCIS has this sentence for the translation of foreign language documents:

"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." (Title A, Chapter I, Subchapter B, Part 103, Subpart A, § 103.2)

All that the USCIS requires for the translation of non-English documents is that they be "certified". No notarization needed.

Can I Get My Certified Translation for Free?

There are times when law firms, individual immigration lawyers or immigration support agencies will take on a pro bono case. Pro bono is short for the Latin phrase pro bono publico, which means "for the public good.” For cases where the applicant is an asylum seeker that has no means or is a juvenile, immigration professionals will work with translation companies to have free certified translation done or the translation work done on a deeply discounted basis.

But in general, as the translators devote time and effort to this work and translation company employees do so as well, free certified translation service for USCIS is very rare.

At MotaWord we work with certain law firms and do honor their request to have pro bono work done on certain cases, if our translators also are on board and can agree to provide free certified translation work.

Let’s elaborate on USCIS translation requirements and application approvals uscis certified document translation services

Requirements For USCIS Certified Official Document Translations

To avoid any delays in the processing of your immigration application you must comply with the USCIS translation requirements.

According to the Code of Federal Regulations, 8 CFR 103.2(b)(3), “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.”

What Happens if Your Translated Documents Are Rejected by USCIS?

USCIS is known to be very strict when it comes to the English translations of foreign language documents they receive. If such an issue exists, they will ask for a Request for Evidence (RFE). An RFE may be issued for these cases:

  • Translated document containing inaccuracies,
  • Translated document being (or appearing) unauthentic,
  • Lack of information on the translator
  • Translator not appearing to be an acceptable one, or
  • Certification done by the translator being unacceptable

An RFE, on top of delaying your application process - which is already lengthy enough - can result in denial if for any reason the response to the RFE is not received on time.

It is always better to stick with a service provider who knows what they are doing, who is responsible and reliable.

We tried to cover all questions that you might have as you search for answers for your USCIS translation needs. If we missed anything - don’t be shy. Contact us right away.

uscis certified translation near me

If you’ve read all the way through this post… you must now know how to approach a certified translation for your immigration process.

Let’s get that USCIS translation done so you can move on with your application.

Certified Translation Service For Immigration Lawyers

MotaWord is the trusted USCIS-Certified translation provider for Immigration lawyers and immigration law firms in the United States and Canada.

Thanks to our base of highly trained and constantly monitored translators, our fully automated, 24/7 operational platform, and around-the-clock live chat with a project manager; we make the perfect partner.

As an immigration professional, you can easily use MotaWord anytime you want to get an instant quote on translations for any kind of document. All you have to do is visit our quote page and upload your document. MotaWord can easily let you know what language your document is in if there is any doubt and will provide you with an instant certified translation services for USCIS quote indicating price and turnaround time.

As we love to say, there are never any “minimum translation charges” on MotaWord. We are also proud of our quality, using only trained translators and state-of-the-art technology ensuring not only accuracy but also speed. Most of our USCIS-certified translations are completed within mere hours from the moment they are ordered.

MotaWord is an ideal partner for immigration lawyers to recommend to their clients. Our translation platform is localized into Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, German, French, Italian, Russian, Portuguese (Brazilian), and Turkish. Your non-English speaking clients can easily navigate through our platform and order their translations with ease. They can translate document for USCIS and get them ready for their USCIS application, faster and more economical than ever.

Should you wish to make use of our on an ongoing basis, at volume, and see if we can provide your firm with additional benefits such as discount coupons for your immigration clients, dedicated account managers, and advanced integrations just contact us. A simple “hello” would do. Our Translation Pricing page. for specialized translation services would be a good way to have someone contact you.

And if as an immigration law firm you are interested in serving more clients in their own languages by getting your website and offerings continuously localized and updated, you are at the right place. MotaWord’s “active localization” service allows you to continuously localize your website by inserting just a little line of code to your website. You can learn more about translating your website from our article titled “Website Translation: Everything You Need to Know.

USCIS-Certified Translation Service for AILA Members

As of May 2021, MotaWord is proud to announce its acceptance and participation in the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), member services program.

We are proud to be among only a handful of select service providers as the sole translation provider in the program.

AILA is the national association of more than 15,000 immigration attorneys. A joint press release was distributed nationally on April 27, 2021, announcing the partnership. You may find more information about the MotaWord offer for AILA member law professionals at this article, “Certified Translation Benefits for AILA Members.

Get an instant, no-obligation translation quote now.


Published on Sep 22, 2020 by EVREN AY

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