As opposed to other jurisdictions, the United States does not have a list of registered translators. Notice I am saying translators, since there is a list of interpreters. This leaves us wondering how in the world do we file exhibits that need to be translated? As of this date, there is very little guidance found in official sources. Other than what is posted on the USCIS website and one administrative suggestion from the federal courts I once read, there is very little to go on. It seems the authority to admit or reject a piece of evidence lies completely on the judge (or immigration officer as the case may be).
How does it work in other countries? There is usually a translators and interpreters bar or association, similar to the Florida Bar Association or to your local state bar, but for translators. Membership in such a bar is regulated by the State, and the State, in turn, only accepts translations certified by such an association. Not only must the translation be done by one who is registered, but on many occasions, the translation itself must be physically taken to the translators association offices to be stamped and certified.
Please note that when I mention the term “association” above, I am not referring to a non-profit association, like the American Translators Association, but rather a regulated quasi branch of government, who must vet every single document and interpreter used in the court system.
Instead, what we have in the U.S. is the wild west of translation. I am not saying this disparagingly, on the contrary, I love this lack of regulation. It gives us the flexibility to deal in hundreds of languages from all over the world without having to pay homage to a group of appointed bureaucrats. So, in this wild west of translations, we have best practices.
What are these best practices?
USE ISO 17100 standards for translation. We will not go into this international standard in this article.
But what about the certificate of accuracy, who’s name do you put on it?
In the following order as the case may be, try to:
-Use a translator that is certified by the American Translators Association, else
-Use a Certified Court “interpreter” for translations (so you can place the certification number on the certificate of accuracy
-Use the name of the last person to edit the document, based on ISO 17100 standards (above) and simply state that the person is a “professional translator”
In summary, to ensure the quality of the translation, you use ISO 17100 standards, but to increase the likelihood of the judge or immigration officer accepting your translation, you would create a certificate of accuracy, as per USCIS guidelines, but also include a certification number from either a certified translator from the American Translators Association or a certified State court interpreter, as this may give the impression of it being a neutral third party that certifies the translation.