Under U.S. law, if you are seeking services from a government agency or an organization funded by the U.S. government, you must be provided with assistance in your language.
What are language access services?
Language access services include a free interpreter and free translation of important documents. An agency cannot force you to provide your own interpreter (such as a friend or family member, and it is recommended that you do not use a family member or friend even if they volunteer) or ask you to pay for an interpreter or translation provided by the agency.
What is an interpreter?
When people speak different languages, an interpreter helps them talk to each other. An interpreter can work in person or over the phone.
Where am I entitled to language access services?
If you do not speak English well, you are entitled to language access services at:
- federal courts
- state and local courts that receive money from the U.S. government
- federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service
- state and local government agencies that receive money from the U.S. government such as the your local social services or welfare office and the unemployment office
- legal services offices that receive money from the Legal Services Corporation or another agency of the U.S. government to provide free legal services
- police departments that receive money from the U.S. government
- hospitals that receive money from the U.S. government
- schools that receive money from the U.S. government
Remember, agencies that receive money from the U.S. government cannot refuse you services just because you do not speak English.
I was not provided with language access services. How do I file a complaint?
If you were not provided with language access services, you may have a claim for national origin discrimination. To file a complaint, contact:
Federal Coordination and Compliance Section - NWB
Civil Rights Division
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20530
(888) 848-5306 - English and Spanish (Ingles y Español)
(202) 307-2222 (voice)
(202) 307-2678 (TDD)
The agency that you want to complain about may also have a way to file a complaint about not receiving services in your own language.