Using the services of an accredited interpreter

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

This instruction applies to interpretation services taking place in Canada that are funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) for:

  • refugee protection
  • select permanent residence applications
  • other requests for specific applications

For more details, please consult program-specific procedures for using interpreters.

When IRCC is providing an interpreter and is paying for the interpretation services offered to the clients, the department uses the interpreters from the Immigration Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) list of accredited and security-cleared interpreters.

Find out how to use the services of an interpreter who is accredited and security-cleared with the IRB and is used for interpretation services at IRCC.

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Procedures for interpretation services contracting

Interpretation services at Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) are guided by the Standard Interpretation Service Contractor Clauses and Conditions (IRCC-SISCCC-001 - 2017-02-15).

Interpretation services contracting stakeholders

  • Authorized IRCC user (e.g., case officer, immigration officer, supervisor, general support clerk)
  • Resource Management Services Division (RMS)
  • Office manager (section 32/41/34 of the Financial Administration Act [FAA] authority)
  • Client or applicant
  • Interpreter
  • Finance Branch/National Payment and Accounting Services (NPAS) (section 33 authority)
  • Procurement Contract Services

Steps to contract an interpreter

The use of accredited interpreters is limited to interviews that could have a significant impact on the client, such as (this list is not exhaustive):

  • in-Canada claims for refugee protection, including refugee eligibility interviews
  • interviews with individuals likely to be subject to a removal from Canada
  • pre-removal risk assessment hearings
  • interviews with victims of abuse
  • sponsorship interviews (e.g., marriages of convenience)
  1. When a client is scheduled for an interview and requests an interpreter, the officer in charge of the file will determine whether the application could have a significant impact on the client and whether an accredited interpreter is necessary based on the ability of the client to speak and understand either English or French.
  2. If the officer determines that the outcome of the interview will not have a significant impact, the client will be informed within a reasonable time period that IRCC will not provide an interpreter. If the client still wants an interpreter, they are responsible for finding one.

Note: Officials should allow for a degree of discretion when deciding to provide IRCC-funded interpretation services in other proceedings not included in this list.

  1. The authorized IRCC user determines the language requirement of the client and proceeds to identify potential interpreter(s) from IRCC’s list of interpreters.
  2. In selecting the interpreter from the list, the authorized IRCC user shall consider the fairness of the identification process and assign work to interpreters to the extent possible on a rotational basis to avoid possible complaints.
  3. The authorized IRCC user contacts the selected interpreter and provides details of the services required, including
    • the date
    • the time
    • the location
    • whether the services will be required in person, by telephone or by videoconference
  4. The interpreter confirms their availability or declines the work.
    1. If the interpreter declines, the authorized IRCC user repeats steps 4, 5 and 6.
    2. If the interpreter confirms their interest and availability, the authorized IRCC user proceeds with completing the Professional Services Contract for Interpretation Services form [IMM 2048E].
      1. The contract form is fillable and can be saved.
      2. Among other provisions, the form contains compensation provisions for the agreed interpretation services.
  5. When an interpreter is selected, the officer should:
    1. refer them to the Standard Interpretation Service Contractor Clauses and Conditions.
    2. inform them about the IRCC Code of Conduct for Interpretation Service Contractors, which guides their conduct; competence; care; skill, diligence and efficiency, conflict of interest, confidentiality, compliance, etc.
  6. The authorized IRCC user obtains a funds commitment number from the RMS and inserts it into the contract.
  7. The office manager with delegated financial authority must sign sections 32 and 41 (for the Minister) on the professional services contract form.
  8. The interpreter must review and sign the professional services contract form.


Interpreters are not employees of IRCC or the Immigration Refugee Board (IRB). They are employed on a contractual basis for the interpretation service they provide to IRCC.

The following IRB interpretation standards are also followed by IRCC:

  • Interpretation should be continuous, without breaks and complete.
  • Interpretation should be precise, as close as can be to word-for-word and without summaries or changes in grammar and syntax; it should be in the first person.
  • Interpretation should be impartial; the interpreter is not a witness.
  • Interpretation should be competent; the interpreter must take an oath and should his or her competence be in doubt, an inquiry into competence should be made.
  • Interpretation should be contemporaneous, consecutive, rather than simultaneous.

When an interpreter is selected, they should be informed about the:

Interpreter security clearance

The interpreters listed in IRCC’s List of Interpreters are accredited by the IRB and have obtained a security clearance at the Reliability level and may have access to information up to Protected “B” level on a need-to-know basis.

Should an IRCC office require an interpreter to have access to information at a higher level than Protected “B”, (i.e., Secret), the interpreter must be cleared by Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) before starting to perform their services.

Should an IRCC office require an interpreter who is not on the IRCC interpreter list, the interpreter must be cleared by PSPC before starting to perform their services.

IRCC Corporate Security does not conduct security screening for contract workers (non-IRCC employees). Contractors wishing to obtain a security clearance must follow the PSPC established process. The service standard for designated organization screening is up to 6 months.

Before and during the interpretation service

  • The authorized IRCC user gives specific instructions regarding the conduct of the interpretation where the interpreter is new or has worked infrequently for IRCC.
  • The authorized IRCC user instructs the interpreter to provide verbatim interpretation and determines whether they want
    • simultaneous interpretation; or
    • interpretation at intervals during the applicant's response.
  • The authorized IRCC user asks the client or applicant if they can understand the interpreter easily and records the question and the applicant's response.
  • The authorized IRCC user observes the client or applicant's ability to respond quickly, easily and appropriately to a series of introductory warm-up questions.
    • The authorized IRCC user must be completely satisfied that
      • the interpreter is fully fluent in the languages of both the interviewer and the client or applicant;
      • the interpretation is correct and free of bias.
  • If at any time the authorized IRCC user is not satisfied that an interpreter is interpreting accurately, they should
    • verify by rephrasing the answers that have raised doubts;
    • ask the client or applicant to confirm that have understood correctly;
    • if necessary, identify another interpreter or reschedule the interview.
  • The authorized IRCC user advises the client or applicant to tell them if at any point during the interview,
    • there is anything that they do not understand;
    • there are any other difficulties.
  • The authorized IRCC user records the interpreter's name and the language used in the Global Case Management System.

After the interpretation service is completed

  • The IRCC authorized user completes the invoice section of the contract form.
  • The IRCC authorized user enters the actual hours worked by the interpreter in the “Hours Worked” field under “Description of Interpretations Services”.
  • The officer gives or sends by email the completed invoice to the interpreter for signature.
  • The interpreter must return the signed invoice to the IRCC authorized user for payment to be made.
  • Upon receipt of the signed invoice, the IRCC authorized user notifies the RMS to complete a payment request form [FIN 0030E].
  • The office manager with delegated financial authority must sign the payment request form.
  • The RMS mails the signed payment request form along with a signed interpreter contract and signed invoice to the NPAS for section 33 approval and payment.
    • Mailing address: 365 Laurier Avenue West, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1 - c/o NPAS
  • The RMS scans and stores the signed interpreter contract, the signed invoice and the signed payment request form in GCDOCS as per their internal file structure.
  • Any interpretation issues or problematic code of conduct of the interpreter should be reported to: IPG Functional Guidance / Orientation Fonctionnelle OPI (IRCC).

Complaints concerning interpretation

This section includes information on both:

  • complaints from an interpreter
  • complaints about an interpreter

Note: At the time they are contracted for work at IRCC, the interpreters should already be aware of their obligations and code of conduct in connection with conflicts of interest.

Complaint from an interpreter

Complaints may come from interpreters, questioning the lack of contracts they have received compared to other interpreters with the same linguistic profile. To avoid such situations, authorized IRCC users shall assign work to interpreters on a rotational basis (to the extent possible).

Responses to the complainant should make reference to the process of fairness used at IRCC (see No. 4 in the above section Steps to contract an interpreter)

Complaints about an interpreter

Complaints regarding interpreter competency or comportment can generally arise before, during and/or after the interpretation services are delivered. The complaints could range from no-show or last-minute cancellations, to poor interpretation, to after the service when the interpreter could engage with clients and claimants in communication that could be a ground for conflict of interest.

Authorized IRCC users and clients/claimants must raise concerns with respect to interpretation during the course of the interpretation service, at the first opportunity, unless there are exceptional circumstances for not doing so.

Where concerns arise regarding interpreter competency based on information that only became available after the service is rendered, the authorized IRCC user should discuss these with an interpreter as soon as possible.

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