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Incorrect Translation in Immigration Proceedings Can Cost you a Green Card

June 7, 2017

Incorrect Translation in Immigration Proceedings Can Cost you a Green Card

Author: New York Immigration Attorney Alena Shautsova

Any person applying for US Immigration benefits (apart from those who are filing for citizenship without any waivers) can bring an interpreter with himself/herself for an interview. When choosing an interpreter, one has to  keep in mind that the quality of the interpretation often will affect the results.

I have once attended an interview for asylum when an interpreter that a client insisted on bringing with her, could not translate accurately the name of the month when the events occurred. The “controlling” interpreter who should have corrected the one in the room (during an asylum interview, the government turns on a telephonic system when a government interpreter is listening to the interpreter the applicant invited and corrects or at least is supposed to correct all inaccurate translations). I did not speak the language and could not catch the mistake until another client, who happened to use the same interpreter but who also knew a little bit of English realized that the interpreter had very basic knowledge of the language he claimed to be proficient in. I have seen translations of documents that incorrectly omit the most important part of the document (I happened to speak both languages and could notice the mistake).

When a mistake is caught early enough, it is possible to correct it, but sometimes a mistake can ruin a person’s chance for relief completely.  It happens because the government would try to argue that the person is lying when testifies inaccurately, or a person’s testimony can be translated to have a very different meaning than the person intended to give it to; or a judge may come to a different conclusion based on an incorrect testimony.

There is a recent case coming form the Board of Immigration Appeals that discusses a situation that arose during the Immigration Bond proceedings. The stakes during the Bond proceedings are serious: if a judge determines a person does not deserve a bond, the person will remain in jail until her Immigration case is decided.  In the case at issue, the judge denied the bond. The Immigration Judge relied on the interpreter’s translation of the phrase, finding that when asked why he drove after drinking the respondent answered “that it seemed easy.” The person’s answer, however, was supposed to have been translated differently than it was: the interpreter translated person’s statement in Spanish, “Se me hizo facil” as “that it seemed easy,” but the phrase is a Mexican idiomatic expression which should be translated as “I didn’t think about it” or “I didn’t really think about the consequences.” Luckily for the person, the Board of Immigration Appeals agreed with him and now his request for bond will be re-evaluated. Matter of Hernandez, 8/4/16 BIA.

But it is not always the case. It means that when preparing your documents, you need to make sure you utilize professional services, that would not allow a sloppy job to interfere with your case.

They Give it: They Can Take it Back: How DHS Can Take Your Passport Away

March 14, 2014

They Give it: They Can Take it Back: How DHS Can Take Your Passport Away

Author: Immigration attorney Alena Shautsova

There are two main ways a person may obtain US citizenship: by being born in the US or its territory and via naturalization. Naturalization is a process of conveying US citizenship on an individual who originally held a different citizenship or was a person with no citizenship at all.

It has been said that there is no distinction between US born citizens and those who received citizenship via naturalization. However, one major distinction between the two kinds of citizenship does exist:  the second kind can be taken away from an individual even if he or she has been in citizenship status for decades.

This happened to Hzim who originally received his citizenship in 1989. Even though for decades he held the title of US citizenship and traveled overseas, in 2011, the US Department of Homeland Security decided to “take back” his citizenship, saying that they made a mistake in 1989…

The mistake was that somebody in INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services (USCIS used to be called this way)) did not check all the requirements for Hazim’s naturalization and mistakenly believed Hazim’s father conveyed his citizenship to Hazim…. Even though there was no Hazim’s fault in it all, and even though he did not lie to the US government in any way, the Federal Court, 2nd District said it cannot stop Immigration authorities from taking Hazim’s citizenship away over twenty years later…

Of course, despite the fact that they are taking his citizenship away, Immigration promised Hazim that there are Other means of correcting the situation, but it seems that Hazim should not be the one paying for someone’s lack of qualification and expertise…

That is why it is strongly advisable that everybody who is applying for citizenship, consult with an Immigration attorney to make sure Hazim’s story would not repeat itself.


TPS Holders May Adjust Their Status To LPR Says 6th Circuit

June 5, 2013

Holders of the TPS who entered the US without inspection (EWI) may nevertheless successfully adjust their status to one of a permanent resident…  Flores v. USCIS, (June 4, 2013 6th Cir). The 6th Circuit rejected long standing government position that the holders of the TPS status who came to the US without inspection may not adjust their status to LPR even if subsequently they marry a US citizen.
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