As of September 1, 2020, self-described “international solutions provider” SOS International (SOSi) will continue to provide immigration court language services to the US Department of Justice under a contract worth up to USD 400m.
SOSi, a family-owned and operated US business with headquarters in Reston, Virginia, and minority stakeholder in language tech firm AppTek as of June 2020, was the incumbent for the contract.
SOSi provided similar services under a USD 231.6m contract from July 2015 to August 31, 2020. Although the Justice Department did not release information on SOSi’s past performance or rates, SOSi beat out seven other candidates for the contract renewal.
This new contract, with duration set for a maximum of five years, involves support for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) in immigration court proceedings, appellate reviews, and administrative hearings in individual cases — “but other components in the Department of Justice can use the contract for court-related services,” according to RFP documents.
The EOIR currently has 80 staff interpreter positions, primarily for Spanish and Mandarin. SOSi will fill in the gaps for those and other languages through on-site and over-the-phone interpretation; written translation; transcription and/or translation of recordings; and computer aided real-time transcription (CART) for English and Spanish only.
SOSi’s website currently has job postings for court interpreters working in Spanish as well as languages of lesser diffusion such as Mazatec, Mossi, and Zyphe. Court interpreters working under this contract must be either certified or professionally qualified. They must also have at least one year of experience interpreting in a judicial setting, although this requirement may be waived for interpreters working in hard-to-source languages.
In contrast to healthcare providers that have embraced telehealth and video remote interpreting (VRI) during the coronavirus pandemic, RFP documents state that the EOIR was not interested in VRI, although no explanation was given.