General Tips on Assembling USCIS Immigration Applications for Mailing
Mark both the envelope and the cover letter as to the nature of the submission. Example: ORIGINAL SUBMISSION – BRIEF FOR AN APPEAL – RESPONSE TO REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – etc.
- Use the appropriate mailing address and mark both the envelope and the cover letter as to the form type. Example: I-129; I-130; I-690; I-698, etc.
- Provide both the receipt notice number and the A-Number as an identifier, if they are available.
- If the packet is being resubmitted in response to a REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE, please place the notice requesting the additional evidence/information on the top of the packet. Also, please use the special mailing envelope provided.
- If evidence is being submitted in support of a previously filed appeal or motion, a cover letter stating “BRIEF FOR APPEAL”, etc., should be placed on top of the packet.
- In preparing your packet, please take note of the following:
a. Do not use binders or folders that cannot be easily disassembled.
b. Use ACCO fasteners to hold together thick or bulky applications or petitions. Two-hole punching the top of the material for easy placement in the file is appreciated.
Important Exception: Petitions filed at the Chicago lockbox should use paperclips when attaching supporting personal documents to forms instead of “ACCO” fasteners; staples are acceptable when attaching fees.
c. The use of tabs assist in locating items listed as attachments. The tabs should be placed on the bottom and not the side for ease in filing.
d. Avoid using heavy-duty staples; instead use ACCO fasteners or heavy clips.
e. Avoid submitting originals unless specifically required (Forms I-94, Labor certifications, etc). Avoid submitting oversized documentation when possible.
Important “TO-DO” that will help you with the Processing
- Send copies of any prior approval notices with any new requests for extensions of stay, change of status or amended petitions.
- Keep copies of all submissions. Don’t assume the officer will have access to a prior file or record. Submit as complete a packet as possible so the case can be adjudicated from what you submit. Submit a complete packet of information for each petition or application. If officers have to review prior files or records, the adjudication of the case can be delayed substantially.
- Be sure to complete all pertinent items on the petition or application. Ensure all entries on the forms are legible. Note the appropriate consulate, embassy, or a request to adjust status on the petition. Do not enter “N/A” when “None” is appropriate.
- If you believe your situation to be unique, explain it fully in an attachment to the packet, not as a cover letter.
- Please submit certified translations for all foreign language documents. The translator must certify that s/he is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate. The certification format should include the certifier’s name, signature, address, and date of certification. The formated required by the USCIS can be found here.
- USCIS no longer routinely requires submission of original documents or “certified copies.” Instead, ordinary legible photocopies of such documents (including naturalization certificates and alien registration cards) will be acceptable for initial filing and approval of petitions and applications.
- At the discretion of the officer, original documents may still be required in individual cases. Please be advised that USCIS no longer returns original documents submitted with the exception of Certificates of Naturalization, Forms I-551, Permanent Resident Card, Forms I-94, Arrival/Departure Document, valid passports, or those specifically requested by the officer. Such documents will be returned when they are no longer needed.
- Reminder: The best way to locate records is through the receipt number and/or the A-Number. Always provide this information whenever possible. If you don’t know the A-Number, provide a COMPLETE name and date of birth. ALSO: Provide ANY AND ALL names used by the individual, including aliases, maiden names, names used when originally admitted to the United States, etc. Providing this information is extremely helpful and speeds up processing time.
- When an opinion from a recognized authority is submitted, the opinion should state: the writer’s qualifications as an expert; the writer’s experience giving such opinions, citing specific instances where past opinions have been accepted as authoritative and by whom; how the conclusions were reached; and the basis for the conclusions, including copies or citations of any research material used.
- Any application or petition for an individual currently in F-1 status needs to include evidence the student has been maintaining status and has been authorized employment if applicable. Such evidence usually can be satisfied by submitting the latest Form I-20AB/I-20ID and a copy of the employment authorization card.