What Document Translations Do You Need for an Immigration Case?

By Katherine at Legal Language
Updated on 05/14/2014
In Adjusting Status, Immigration, Legal Translation



passport map translation requirementsHaving a job isn’t the only requirement for receiving an employment-based (or any other) green card.

The translation of personal documents for immigration is also required by US Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Any important personal documents issued in a language other than English need to be translated before you can submit an application for a green card.

Which Documents May Need Translations?

An employment-based green card case requires specific documents to be submitted as proof of current citizenship, identity, education and work experience.

These documents include:

1) Passport Pages

USCIS requires a passport translation of the biographic information page, picture page and the visa page of your current passport and any old or expired passports that you have. Only these pages are required; translations of the other pages are not necessary.

2) Birth Certificate

Copies of birth certificates along with birth certificate translations are mandatory for employment-based green cards — and nearly every immigration filing, for that matter.

A handful of countries issue both long-form and short-form birth certificates. Not sure which one to submit to USCIS? Your birth certificate won’t be valid unless it includes the following information:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Parents’ full names
  • A seal from the issuing office showing that it is a bona fide record

If your birth certificate is lost or unavailable, you may have to draw up affidavits for family members to sign and swear to your identity. If that is the case, the affidavits also will need to be translated if in a language other than English.

3) Academic & Professional Evidence

To be eligible for an employment-based green card, you must prove that you are the most suitable worker for the job you are performing. Depending on what level of employment-based green card you are applying for, the evidence you must submit may consist of:

  • A letter from an employer confirming employment outside the US, the nature of the previous employment, and the dates of employment
  • Tax returns showing your employment by the same employer outside of the US for at least one year in the last three years
  • An official academic record showing that you have a baccalaureate, advanced or equivalent foreign degree necessary to perform your job

If any of these documents are not in English, a certified translation is required to be submitted along with copies of the original documents.

4) Family Members’ Documents

If you are immigrating with your family — your spouse or any dependents — you will need to provide proof of your relationship and their identities. Sometimes, USCIS may recommend immigration DNA testing to help prove familial relationships.

If you are married, be sure to include a copy of your marriage certificate. If you had a wedding abroad and the document is not in English, you will need to provide a translation.

Additionally, if you or your spouse were previously married, copies of those marriage certificates also are necessary to include in the immigration filing, as well as copies of divorce filings or death certificates. Of course, translations are necessary if any of these legal documents are not completely in English.

If you have children, you will need to provide USCIS with copies and translations of their birth certificates and valid passports.

Why Professional Translation Is the Key

Many potential immigrants are fluent in both English and the language their personal documents are in — why can’t they do it themselves? Why is a professional translator necessary?

The fact is that USCIS requires certified translations for all immigration documents and supporting evidence.

USCIS prefers that an unbiased professional translator who can have the translation notarized be responsible for translating these important documents. Even the smallest omission of details can lead to questions, which can delay an employment-based green card case.

Translations of your personal documents are absolutely required for the proper filing of an immigration case. Submitting copies of your documents without certified translations attached can set back your processing time, so if you’re filing an application with USCIS, be sure to have your immigration document translation done by professional translators.


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