If you have a number of personal documents in German or any other language other than English and you need to apply for a U.S. visa, it would be normal to expect that they should be professionally translated into English. In fact, U.S. federal government requirements are not really any more onerous than any other immigration agency in any other country. In fact, compared to some others (e.g. Australia), the rules are actually a little easier.
Yes, you do need to translate any essential documents into English if they are in German. Although not absolutely essential, it is always recommended that you use a professional German English translation service to do so.
So, what sort of documents are we talking about? The typical documents that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) need to see in their English version include things like:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Employment record
- Bank statements
- Police records or certificates
The German translation should certainly be done by someone who is fluent in both languages and it simply makes sense to use a professional translator to do the job. The documents that need to be submitted depend somewhat on the type of visa applied for, but will, in any case, include a copy of the original (i.e. in German), the translated version with a signed note at the end.
The note must be made by the person who is the German translator and is a statement to say that they are fluent in both languages and that the original document has been faithfully translated.
Note that passports, whatever language they are, do not need to be translated into English for the USCIS.
There have been some issues in the past where translations haven’t been that accurate or the text of the document and any peculiarities like seals have not been translated sufficiently clearly or in the correct place. That means that if you are unsure whether your friend who says he or she is fluent in English and German is up to the job that you simply turn the job over to an experienced professional German translation service and forget about any worries about whether it is going to please the U.S. authorities.