When immigrating, the last thing you need is finding out that an error was made in paperwork, delaying you several weeks or more. Finding a translator to help with the process of immigration may be an important investment, even if your English is excellent. All too often, the government paperwork requires specialized knowledge of English. You want your transition to America to be smooth.
There are several key things to look for when hiring language translation services. Whether you need to find a japanese translator, or a Spanish translator, you'll want the service to be completely professional. When you google "japanese translator", up comes a long list of translators, private and professional, and Google does not rank them according to ability. It is up to you to determine their quality. Who has time?
It may be more efficient to look immediately for a translation company, as opposed to an individual. Looking in your local area may also be a good plan. Meeting the translator face-to-face is more pleasant than phone/email interaction alone. If you will need the translator for verbal interactions with the government, it is all the more important to meet them in person. They will be a business partner for you, in a way, so you want to be sure it is a good match.
What do you look for when hiring them?
As you wade through your choices, look for a native speaker of English. This means the person grew up speaking English as a first language. It is less important that the translator is a fluent speaker of your native tongue. The advantage of a native speaker is that they have been speaking English since the womb, surrounded by English for years. However, there are plenty of native English speakers whose grasp of the language is weak. Just look at most highschoolers. So if you find an English translator who is not a native speaker, but is obviously smart, talented, and recommended by several people, go for it. They may have lower rates, besides, because their non-native status lowers their hire ability.
Their experience is another factor to look at. Again, do not discount the translator based on age. They may be young but extremely talented with linguistics. If the translator is working for a reputable translation company, you know they've been screened and tested and (should be) reliable. There is a lot of potential for error when translating documents, and you don't want anything to go wrong with your sensitive information.
If you feel your English is not strong enough to ask questions like this, you may need to take a leap of faith. In this case, choose a translation company based on reputation. If they have a long list of admirable clients, you know you can probably trust them.