Extracts of Record for Visa Purposes


A colleague and I were discussing translations of personal documents for visa applications recently, and I was surprised to learn that attorneys regularly ask her for form-based translations of birth certificates. Rather than have her produce a full, alternate-language copy of the original record, they want a data table filled out (similar to the new, multi-lingual extract of record in the EU). In all my years providing translations of birth, marriage, and divorce certificates, I have never had this request from any agency or direct client—and the news went against all my training.

According to both the US State Department website, and to my great relief, the attorneys are not technically correct to ask for this format change:

Translations. Any document containing foreign language submitted to the Service 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.

(emphasis added; source: www.state.gov)

The USCIS website says the same thing:
11.3 Foreign Language Documents and Translations.
(a) Document Translations .
All documents submitted in support of an application or petition must include complete translation into English. In addition, there must be a certification from the translator indicating that the translation is complete and accurate and attesting to his or her competence as a translator. See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(3) .
(emphasis added; source: www.uscis.gov)
USCIS notes that, for countries with lengthy and dense civil recording practices, the “keeper of a record” will sometimes issue an extract (a simplified or abridged version), which can be accepted as long as it comes from an official, authorized record-keeper and contains adequate information about the individual(s). Translators are only meant to provide complete and accurate translations of the record—not shorten it.
That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if these websites were maybe out of date, or (more likely) out of sync with actual practices used by civil servants to process requests.  The truth is, neither my colleague who translates into a form template nor I have heard of issues with the applications that use either of our methods. So now, I am curious…
What has your experience been? Have you been asked to translate a document into a different format? Have you had issues with providing translations for visa applications? Please share below!



Legal language: affidavit vs. declaration

Legal formalities aren’t always as formal as you might expect. Take, for instance, the use in California and federal courts of the declaration, rather than the affidavit.

hand on BibleWhat’s the difference? An affidavit is a notarized, sworn statement from the witness or party to a case giving his or her account of the facts. A declaration is the same statement, unsworn (not notarized). [source]

When translators in the United States certify their translations for a client, very often a declaration can be used instead of an affidavit (though many times clients opt for the extra level of formality and have a notary get involved—just in case).

Section 2015.5 here sets out the language you should use to make sure your declaration can hold its own:

I certify (or declare) under penalty of perjury under the laws of
the State of <insert state name> that the foregoing is true and correct:
_____________             _________
(Date)                                    (Signature)

If you change things up to make this read better for a declaration about your translation, be sure you have the elements “under penalty of perjury,” “laws of <place>,” and “true and correct.” You should also, at the beginning of the statement, give information about who you are and how you are qualified to make such a statement.

As always, for legal advice for specific situations, consult a qualified legal professional (in this case, a notary should be able to help).

What are the laws about affidavits versus declarations in your country or state? Do you make declarations about your translations often? What language do you use?

Certification for language professionals and their work

I’ll be speaking at the Hacker Lab in Sacramento, CA again! This time with a co-presenter.

Join me and Clarissa Laguardia on Saturday, April 12, 2014 from 10:30am–noon for a discussion of the laws and current practices surrounding certification for language professionals and their work here in California* (with some broader discussion of practices in the US and abroad).

Learn about opportunities for interpreter certification, translator certification for rare languages, laws about who can certify translations for use in filings, and the language used for certifying translations. For a taste of what we’ll be looking at, see this California government code.

Questions we’re planning to answer:

  • What does “certified linguist” mean? Who does the certifying?
  • Why would I ever need a certified translation?
  • How do I get a translation certified?
  • What about rare languages? How do I get certified or find a certified linguist for an uncommon language?

What else would you like to know? Ask your questions below, or send me an email at carolyn [at] untangledtranslations [dot] com!

Unable to attend? Sign up for my newsletter to get the slides as a PDF following the presentation!

*This presentation is intended for information purposes only for interpreters, translators, and those who need to hire them. It does not constitute legal advice; for questions about specific situations, make sure to consult your lawyer.