If you're going through the immigration process to the United States, you can expect quite a bit of paperwork - from forms to document collection. One vital document required for nearly everyone is a birth certificate. Often in a foreign language, we'll look into how to translate a birth certificate for USCIS.
Embarking on the journey of immigration to the United States can be both exciting and daunting. Among the myriad steps involved, the process is often laden with extensive paperwork, ranging from detailed forms to the collection of essential documents.
A crucial part of this documentation is the birth certificate, a fundamental piece that serves as proof of identity and nationality.
However, when this document is in a language other than English, it introduces an additional layer of complexity – translation for United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) compliance.
A birth certificate is more than just a piece of paper; it is a key that unlocks several doors in the immigration process. For many, it's the primary document establishing their identity, date of birth, and place of birth – all critical information for immigration authorities. The challenge arises when this vital document is not in English, as USCIS requires all foreign language documents to be accompanied by a certified English translation. This stipulation ensures that immigration officers can accurately assess and process your application, making the translation of your birth certificate a task of paramount importance.
At ImmiTranslate, we understand the nuances and criticality of translating documents for immigration purposes. Translating a birth certificate for USCIS is not just about converting words from one language to another; it's about ensuring that every detail is accurately represented in a format that meets strict immigration standards. This blog post aims to guide you through the process of translating your birth certificate for USCIS, outlining everything from when and why you need a translation to how you can get it done correctly and efficiently.
In the following sections, we will delve into the specifics of what a birth certificate is, the circumstances under which you need to translate it for USCIS, and the precise requirements set forth by USCIS for translated documents. We’ll also cover important questions such as whether you can translate the document yourself, the role of notarization in the process, and the typical costs involved. Our goal is to provide a comprehensive guide that demystifies the translation process, ensuring you’re well-prepared to take this critical step in your immigration journey.
What is a birth certificate?
A birth certificate is an official document issued to record a person's birth.
It includes vital information such as the individual's full name, date of birth, place of birth, and the names of their parents. This document serves as legal proof of identity and age, making it a foundational piece in a person's life journey.
From enrolling in school to obtaining a driver's license, a birth certificate is often the first document requested to establish identity.
When do you need to translate a birth certificate?
The need to translate a birth certificate arises in several immigration-related scenarios. Primarily, if you are applying for a U.S. visa, green card, or citizenship and your birth certificate is not in English, you will need to provide a certified translation.
This requirement holds true for any USCIS application where your birth certificate is needed as proof of identity or to establish familial relationships.
It's also pertinent when dealing with other U.S. government agencies, such as the State Department, especially when applying for a passport or for consular processing abroad.
The rule of thumb is straightforward: if the birth certificate is a required document and it's not in English, a translation is necessary.
Do You Have to Translate Your Birth Certificate for USCIS?
Yes, translating your birth certificate is mandatory for USCIS if it is not originally in English.
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) operates with English as its working language. By law, all non-English documents must be accompanied by a certified English translation.
This requirement ensures that the USCIS officers can accurately assess and verify the information provided. A birth certificate, being a primary document in most immigration applications, is no exception.
Failing to provide a certified translation can result in the rejection or delay of your application, as it might be deemed incomplete or non-compliant with USCIS regulations. Typically, if you do not provide a certified translation of your birth certificate in a USCIS petition, it will be returned with a Request For Evidence (RFE).
What are the USCIS requirements for translated documents?
USCIS requires that translations be complete and accurate translations of the original documents. For a full breakdown of USCIS translation requirements, review our USCIS Translation Requirements Guide.
Some lesser known requirements for USCIS translations include:
Every detail, including stamps, signatures, and any notations, must be translated.
The translated document should mirror the format of the original as closely as possible.
Names, dates, and official titles must retain their original meaning and context in the translation.
The format of dates (day/month/year vs. month/day/year), are significant and must align with U.S. standards.
What is a Certified Translation?
A certified translation is a document translated by a qualified individual or translation service, accompanied by a formal statement certifying that the translation is accurate, complete, and faithful to the original document.
This certification does not imply that the translator is officially "certified" by a professional body; rather, it means that the translator attests to their own competence and the translation’s accuracy.
The certification typically includes:
The translator’s name
The translator's signature
The date of translation
A certification of translation accuracy. This piece of the translation is essential for official purposes like immigration applications, as it assures authorities like USCIS that the translated document is a true and reliable representation of the original, maintaining the integrity of the original information.
No, you generally cannot translate your own birth certificate for USCIS purposes.
USCIS requires that the translation be done by a person other than the applicant to ensure impartiality and accuracy. The translator must be competent in both languages and provide a certification of accuracy, which you cannot typically do for your own documents.
Close family members or your spouse are generally not permitted to translate documents either, as they are not considered "disinterested parties" for purposes of the translation.
A trusted friend or colleague is a viable alternative if you are unsure or unable to pay for a certified translation, provided that person meets the requirements identified above.
Does a translated birth certificate need to be notarized for USCIS?
No, a translated birth certificate does not need to be notarized for USCIS purposes.
USCIS requires only that the translation be certified for accuracy by the translator or translation company. The certification must include a statement of accuracy, but notarization of this document is not a requirement for USCIS submissions.
Other government agencies and most state and local agencies do require a notarized translation. For example, all documents submitted to the US Department of State in support of a passport application require a notarized translation.
Do I need the original birth certificate translation for USCIS?
No, USCIS does not require that a physical copy of the translation be provided.
Generally, as long as the signature on the translation meets the USCIS signature requirements (i.e. cannot be signed using a digital signature service such as DocuSign), the translation is acceptable.
How to translate a birth certificate
We've included the below steps as a general guide. If you're interested in how ImmiTranslate works, visit our How It Works page.
Choose a Translator or Translation Service:
Select a translator or service specialized in immigration translations, ensuring they have a proven track record of acceptance by US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Get a Quote and Time Estimate:
Inquire about the cost and how long the translation will take. Factors influencing these include the document's length, format, language pair, certification requirement, and urgency. Typically, translating a birth certificate takes 24 to 72 hours.
Send Your Birth Certificate Electronically:
Provide a digital copy of your birth certificate to your chosen translation provider, along with your contact information, the original document’s language, and the desired language for the translation.
Review of the Completed Translation:
Once translated, you will want to review the translated birth certificate for accuracy. Once approved, you'll receive the translated version electronically and, if needed, physical copies by mail.
How do I know which birth certificate to use for USCIS?
Certain countries have different names for the vital document known as a birth certificate. We've listed several popular countries and the accepted birth certificate below.
In Argentina, the official birth record is the "Acta de Nacimiento," issued by the Civil Registry (Registro Civil) of the birth's municipality or rural area. This document, preferred over the "Certificado de Nacimiento," is essential for legal and immigration processes and may include a verification code or scannable code, especially in digital formats from Buenos Aires.
In Brazil, "Certidão de Nascimento" is the official birth certificate, available in all 26 states and the Federal District of Brasilia, issued by the Civil Registry (Cartório de Registro Civil das Pessoas Naturais).
These certificates vary in form across states and come in standard and unabridged versions, with the latter (Certidão de Inteiro Teor) providing detailed information about the birth and any amendments.
Since November 21, 2017, Brazilian law allows for the registration of up to four parents (biological, adoptive, or social-affective) on a birth certificate, making it challenging to determine the nature of parentage from standard certificates alone.
For clarity on parentage, an unabridged record (certidao de inteiro teor) is necessary, obtainable from the civil registry office where the birth is registered.
In Chile, the official birth certificate, known as "Certificado de Nacimiento," is issued by the local office of the Civil Registry (Servicio de Registro Civil e Identificación). These certificates are available either for free or at a nominal cost of CLP $ 710, with both versions being official and verifiable on the Civil Registry’s website. They feature a special seal depicting the Chilean Coat of Arms, including a black condor and a brown huemul, along with the national colors of red, white, and blue. To obtain a certified copy, one can request it at a local Civil Registry office or online, provided they have the necessary details like name, birth date, place of registration, and identity card number. Handwritten certificates or those without parental names are not accepted for consular purposes.
In Cuba, "Certificación de nacimiento" is the official birth certificate, issued by the Registro del Estado Civil (Civil Registry), which falls under the Ministry of Justice. The process and fees for obtaining this certificate vary depending on whether the individual is residing in Cuba or abroad. For Cubans living in Cuba, the certificate can be requested at any civil registry with a five Cuban pesos (CUP) stamp and relevant birth information, and it's usually processed within a week. Cubans living abroad can request it through a relative in Cuba or a Cuban consulate, with fees and processing times varying by location. The certificates are either printed on white letter-size paper or handwritten on a pre-printed form, featuring a five CUP stamp, the Civil Registry's seal, and the registrar's signature. Births must be registered at the local Civil Registry based on the birthplace, typically within 72 hours at a healthcare facility. Certified copies are available, and there are no alternate documents for this purpose.
In El Salvador, the official document for recording births is the "Partida de Nacimiento" (Birth Certificate), issued by the Family Registry (Registro del Estado Familiar) of the city where the birth occurred. The cost for obtaining this certificate varies by city, generally ranging from USD $3 to $5. Each certificate bears the round seal of the City Hall, including the shield of El Salvador. While some City Halls may provide handwritten versions, they are typically issued by the Chief of the Family State Registry (Jefe del Registro del Estado Familiar) or their delegate. To obtain a birth certificate, an individual must provide their full name, date of birth, and parents' names in a verbal or written request to the Family State Registry. Certified copies are readily available, and there are no alternate documents. It’s important to note that in cases where a birth certificate is legally cancelled, the original 'Year of Birth Certificate' can still be obtained from the Family State Registry and is required for immigrant visa applications, as the document causing the cancellation does not replace the original.
In Guatemala, the official document for birth records is the "Certificado de Nacimiento," available through the National Registry of Persons (RENAP) rather than local municipalities. These certificates cost approximately 15 Quetzals in person and 19 Quetzals online (around $2.00). The document may feature a blue circular seal, a barcode, a verificador number at the top right, a correlativo number under the RENAP logo at the top left, a QR code at the center bottom, and the registrar’s digital signature at the bottom right. However, the blue seal is not mandatory.
To obtain a birth certificate, a request should be made to RENAP either online or at any local RENAP office. The request must include the full name, date of birth, and/or the libro (book), folio (page), and partida (registration) numbers of the birth record. Certified copies are not available, but the authenticity of a RENAP birth certificate can be verified by scanning the QR code on the document or by entering the document information on the RENAP website. In cases where no birth record exists, an individual can initiate a judicial process to obtain a delayed birth certificate (certificado de nacimiento extemporaneo). Birth certificates are considered valid for immigrant visa purposes for up to one year from the issuance date. For more details, individuals are advised to visit RENAP's official website, www.renap.gob.gt.
In Mexico, official birth certificates, known as "actas de nacimiento," are available for births since 1870 and are issued by civil registry officials. These documents, which can be obtained from a centralized database for most states, are essential for immigration and legal processes, while baptismal certificates are not recognized as official by the Mexican government.