How to Translate Immigration Documents

how to translate immigration documents

Attempting to immigrate to another country requires many documents. Often people will try to immigrate to another country that speaks a different language. Accordingly, they will need to translate their immigration documents into the language of the country they’re trying to immigrate to.

Immigration procedures not only include forms to fill but also personal documents from the immigrant’s home country.

Translating immigration documents not only needs to be very accurate but also requires certified translation. Those seeking immigration benefits can turn to a certified translator or certified translation company or agency.

In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into how to translate immigration documents along with the different documents needed.

What are immigration documents?

Immigration documents are documents and form a person seeking to immigrate to another country must present to the immigration office or body of that country.

In the United States, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the body responsible for immigration to the U.S.

The USCIS requires all forms and immigration documents to be submitted in English. If any document isn’t in English, the applicant must provide a certified English translation of the document.

It’s worth mentioning that different people have different reasons for immigrating. Accordingly, the immigration documents required by one country may differ from those required by another.

Here is a list of the most common immigration documents requested by immigration bodies around the world:

Visa applicationBirth certificateMarriage certificate
Divorce certificateDivorce certificateAcademic transcript
Academic certificateMilitary transcriptPolice records
Bank statementsPassport
(or Foreign Passport)
Visitor record
Permanent Resident Card
(Green card)
Government form(s)Deportation documents
Machine Readable immigrant visaRefugee travel documentRe-entry permit
Employment Authorization DocumentArrival/Departure RecordArrival/Departure Record in foreign passport

How to translate immigration documents?

When submitting one or more documents to an immigration body, you will need to submit them in English.

For example, if your birth certificate is in Arabic, you’ll need to submit the Arabic version along with a certified English translation of your birth certificate.

There are several factors that play a role in translating immigration documents, these include:

  • The high degree of accuracy

All written translation requires a high degree of accuracy. However, translating immigration documents supersedes all levels because people’s lives and immigration statuses are dependent on the translation.

  • Strictly formal and legal language

Immigration documents are formal documents that will be presented to government bodies in another country. Hence, they require legal and formal translation. They’re often short with little detail.  

Sometimes, people will turn to legal translators for immigration document translation. While this may be generally acceptable, it’s important to note that most, if not all, immigration bodies require certified immigration document translation.

This is for accuracy purposes.

  • Certified translation

One of the most important aspects of translating immigration documents is to work with a certified translator or certified translation service provider.

The USCIS requires certified translation of official forms and documents presented to it. This likely applies to other immigration bodies.

  • Word-for-word translation

Unlike other types of translation, like financial, e-commerce, or media translation, immigration document translation, is often done as word-for-word translation.

That said, it’s the certified translator’s job to ensure that this word-for-word translation is clear and readable.

Translators of immigration documents have little to no freedom with the translation they’re working on.

  • Additional translation requirements

Some immigration authorities may have additional requirements for the certified translation of the immigration documents they will receive.


Translating immigration documents is one of the most critical types of translation. Like medical and some legal translations, lives depend on the accuracy of the translated document.

That’s why we highly recommend working with a translation agency like TranslationPartner, which is not only certified but also offers immigration document translation services for individuals.

FAQs about translating immigration documents

The cost of translating immigration documents will vary from one translator to another and one agency to another.

However, on average, an immigration document of up to 250 words, will begin at $20 per page. The price may increase to $50 or more depending on the source language, whether it’s a complex or rare language, and the document itself.

Many immigration applicants will often ask if they can translate their own documents. According to, a non-profit organization that helps people seek immigration benefits, the answer is “Yes.”

However, the translator must be a certified translator.

A certified USCIS document translator must submit a “certification letter” confirming the translator’s fluency in the source language and English language. This certification is for accuracy purposes. As mentioned, people’s lives depend on the accuracy of the immigration documents presented to the USCIS and similar bodies.

If a person or their relatives translate one or more immigration documents, they must include their full name (the translator’s full name), their signature, date of translation, and address.