Newcomer's dilemma: immigration interpreting (US)
Thread poster: Mercedes Claire Gilliom

Mercedes Claire Gilliom  Identity Verified
France
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
Apr 30, 2012

I am a translator with limited interpreting experience. Recently I was approached by an individual who requires a Fr > En interpreter for his Immigration Services interview. I informed him that I am not a trained interpreter, but that I would be willing to do the job for my minimum hourly translation rate. I asked him for details about his case. He then informed me that he is seeking asylum in the United States.

I am now wondering what the best course of action is. When I quoted him my hourly rate, I was under the impression that his case was more along the lines of a visa renewal or status change. Asylum seems like a much higher-stakes proposition.

I am also under the impression that he cannot afford to hire a certified interpreter. My minimum hourly rate is certainly lower than the standard hourly rate for a certified interpreter in the Washington, DC area, and I think that has a lot to do with why he is seeking my services. His appointment is about ten days from now.

My questions are the following:

-Are there pro bono interpreting services for asylum seekers? Would he be able to secure their services within the next ten days?

-In the event that there is no pro bono interpreting, is it reasonable to offer him my paid service "as is," with the understanding that I will prepare as well as I can, but that I may not offer the same caliber of service as a trained interpreter? How would this differ from, for example, the role of a non-certified, "language-skilled" court interpreter?

I realize that I may be setting myself up for criticism here by having offered my (untrained) services at all. I hope to gain a little understanding about the ethics and best practices for interpreting, as I am actually quite interested in expanding my range of services to include liaison interpreting in the future.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Stevenal  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 02:07
English to French
+ ...
Monitor Apr 30, 2012

Usually, the interview does not require knowledge of technical language. Hence, as a trained translator, if you're perfectly fluent in both of your working languages, you should be able to provide decent service. There is usually a monitor--an expert to monitor the accuracy of your interpretation. Before the interview begins, the would call the monitor who normally remains on the phone until it's over. I do not mean to encourage you to take work you're not comfortable with, but I think you should give it serious thought before accepting the offer.

Direct link Reply with quote
 

Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons)
Member (2005)
English to Italian
+ ...
Confusion Apr 30, 2012

I am not sure why you talk first about interpreting and then about translation:
"I am a translator with limited interpreting experience. Recently I was approached by an individual who requires a Fr > En interpreter for his Immigration Services interview. I informed him that I am not a trained interpreter, but that I would be willing to do the job for my minimum hourly translation rate."

Furthermore: This sounds weird to me since the U.S. immigration offices normally hire and pay for interpreters (usually through agencies), and I have never heard that an immigrant has to hire his/her own interpreter.

Are you sure you got all the details correctly?


Direct link Reply with quote
 
The Misha
Local time: 02:07
Russian to English
+ ...
Now, I wonder where you got that Apr 30, 2012

[quote]Giuseppina Gatta, MA (Hons) wrote:


Furthermore: This sounds weird to me since the U.S. immigration offices normally hire and pay for interpreters (usually through agencies), and I have never heard that an immigrant has to hire his/her own interpreter.

When you come to an immigration interview, you are supposed to bring your own interpreter, and it's of no concern to the INS or whatever they call it these days whether you pay the guy or not, and how much. Yes, they now do have a monitor listening in through a weird looking device on the agent's desk, but you are still supposed to bring your own interpreter.

I've been doing it for some 20 years now, on and off, and that's the way it has always been.

There really isn't much to it. You just go in and interpret verbatim what both parties say. That's it, piece of cake.

[Edited at 2012-04-30 13:50 GMT]


Direct link Reply with quote
 

liviu roth
United States
Local time: 02:07
Romanian to English
+ ...
Mercedes, Apr 30, 2012

Stevenal gave you all the right information. I will describe step-by-step everything you have to do there because I have been on both sides- monitor and interpreter hired directly by the client (not through agency):
- meet your party at the entrance of the building
- go together through the security check (you client should have a slip with the date and time of the
appointment);
- go with your client to the window and help him sign in and have his picture taken.
- fill out the form given to your client regarding the assistance of an interpreter;
- follow your client to the interview room with the asylum officer;
- have an ID with you to present it to the asylum officer
- the officer will swear you in first, then your client.
- after the officer checks all the documents and paperwork, he/she will call L........e for an interpreter in your language to monitor the whole interview.
- don't get intimidated if the monitor corrects you or completes things you may have missed (it happens)
- use your common sense.
- the interview starts with the officer asking if the application for asylum is true and correct, if there are any corrections to be made, documents to submit, ID's, Passport ... and will warn the applicant about fraudulent statements.
- the officer asks for details (ie: what street were you on, what is the name of the bus station etc) and while you interpret writes everything that is said.
- at the end, sometimes the officer reads back the story and makes amendments, if necessary.

Good luck!


Direct link Reply with quote
 

Mercedes Claire Gilliom  Identity Verified
France
Member (2011)
French to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I feel assuaged. Now I'm preparing... May 1, 2012

Thank you all for your helpful responses, and thanks especially to Lee Roth for the detailed description! I no longer feel intimidated. Tomorrow I'm meeting with the client to look over the documents he has prepared, so that I am sure to know all the necessary vocabulary. I lived in France for four years, and am fluent in French, but I'd still rather be sure that I'm familiar with the terms.

I'm glad to know that there is a monitor. It makes sense to me that the applicant and the official would each have a linguist (though it sounds like only one does the heavy lifting). Is it a good idea to bring a dictionary or other reference? I could imagine this being clunky in practice, and unnecessary in the presence of a monitor, but I'd like to make sure.

Once again, thanks for the thoughtful and helpful responses!


Direct link Reply with quote
 
xxxsonjaswenson  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:07
Spanish to English
+ ...
immigration May 24, 2012

For the interviews (one-on one with maybe a lawyer present) things are very informal. they usually don't even want you to interpret everything and will often break in mid-interpreting.

Often lawyers who take on immigration cases (especially for asylum and pro bono cases) will also hire an interpreter for interviews in the law office, to know what the case is about, if the person has anything to go on, and to talk to them about what is going to happen. There are people who interpret these meetings pro bono, often they are not actually trained interpreters. Other times the person brings in a friend or family member. If the lawyers want to be really sure of what is going on and not have any crazy surprises (it happens) they will hire a professional interpreter, but that is not always feasible for a variety of reasons.

For anything involving asylum or other immigration hearings hearings or proceedings (before a judge) the US Immigration services provide interpreters through a contracted agency.


Direct link Reply with quote
 


To report site rules violations or get help, contact a site moderator:


You can also contact site staff by submitting a support request »

Newcomer's dilemma: immigration interpreting (US)

Advanced search







memoQ translator pro
Kilgray's memoQ is the world's fastest developing integrated localization & translation environment rendering you more productive and efficient.

With our advanced file filters, unlimited language and advanced file support, memoQ translator pro has been designed for translators and reviewers who work on their own, with other translators or in team-based translation projects.

More info »
PDF Translation - the Easy Way
TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation.

TransPDF converts your PDFs to XLIFF ready for professional translation. It also puts your translations back into the PDF to make new PDFs. Quicker and more accurate than hand-editing PDF. Includes free use of Infix PDF Editor with your translated PDFs.

More info »



Forums
  • All of ProZ.com
  • Term search
  • Jobs
  • Forums
  • Multiple search