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How to Send Documents to USCIS
The U.S. immigration process is an arduous process. Understanding how the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) functions and processes applications form an important part of a successful application.
But how do you send your documents to them? The USCIS no longer offers paper copies of forms that are available to file online (we’ll look at this in more detail below). Fortunately, there are various ways you can submit your application, but it all depends on the kind of application you’re making.
Can Forms Be Sent Directly to USCIS?
It can be quite confusing figuring out how to send documents to USCIS – you can do it by mail or online. But the method depends on the type of form you need to submit.
Regardless of the method, all documents will get to USCIS – some faster than others. The most important thing is to ensure you receive and keep the USCIS receipt notice of your application. This receipt is proof that your application has been submitted and the only way to accurately track your status.
How to Find and Order USCIS Forms
How do you find the forms you need in the first place? And how do you figure out the right address they need to be sent to?
After assessing which form you need, go onto the USCIS website and click on ‘Forms’. Here you’ll find a directory for all the immigration-related forms, each directing to their own information page on the website. There it will tell you everything you need to know about the form, a downloadable link for the form you can fill in electronically and print at home, and details on where to send the form – unless it can be filed online.
If you don’t have access to a printer, you can also opt to order forms from the USCIS via mail. This option is only available to individuals, not immigration professionals. You can order up to five copies of each form. You’ll be asked for your address details, but please note that they only deliver within the U.S. and its territories.
You also have the option of ordering your forms via the USCIS Contact Centre besides ordering via mail or downloading from their website. All these forms are free.
Keep in mind – if an online filing option exists for that form it won’t be available in a paper format.
Form Filing Tips
After getting the right form, the next step is to start filling in your form and get all the required documentation together.
It’s important to follow the form’s instructions carefully. Here are also a few extra tips on how to send documents to the USCIS.
Complete Your Form Accurately
The best way to ensure your application is successful is to take time to complete your forms correctly – one mistake could easily disqualify your entire application.
Here are some tips to remember while filling in the form:
- Sign everywhere that requires a signature – no signature means no approval.
- Verify you are using the most up-to-date form downloaded from the USCIS website and print the form single-sided.
- Don’t leave any empty spaces – rather write ‘Not Applicable’ (N/A).
- Use black ink if you’re filling in your form with a pen, and definitely no highlighters or correction fluids. The form needs to be legible for the USCIS scanning machines.
- Make sure all the information is the same if you’re submitting multiple forms.
- Double-check that you’re paying the correct fee – otherwise, your application will be disqualified.
Assemble Your Application, Petition, or Request
After you’ve filled in your form, it’s important to ensure your whole application – including all documentation and evidence – is organized neatly. This makes it easy for the immigration officer to assess your application, petition, or request.
Here are some pointers:
- Put your proof of payment, check, or money order at the front of the application. This should be followed by the completed form(s) and supporting documentation in English. All documents must be correctly numbered and with your name on them.
- When putting your application together, opt for fasteners or heavy clips instead of heavy-duty stapling so that officers can easily disassemble it for processing. You can also add sticky tabs but put them at the bottom.
- This package should be headed by a cover letter that highlights what the application is for. The type of application you are making should also be noted clearly on the envelope.
- If the packet is related to a Request for Evidence (RFE), place the notice for the RFE on top of your packet and use the envelope sent with the notice for the RFE.
Mail Your Application, Petition, or Request
Once you’re ready to send off your application, you can send it off via mail to the address stipulated on the form’s information webpage.
If you don’t send it to the right address, your application will be rejected and sent back to be filed correctly.
You can opt to send it either via the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx, DHL, or UPS.
Online Filing As an Alternative to Mail
While you can submit most of the forms via mail, the USCIS will not mail paper copies of forms if online filing is available. These are forms that can be submitted electronically on their web filing system.
Not only is online filing faster and more convenient, online filing also offers better protection of your information. The filing fee will also differ between filing online and filing by mail.
The following forms are eligible for online filing (however, if you’re applying for a fee waiver you’ll have to do it via mail):
- Alien’s Change of Address Card (AR-11)
- Freedom of Information/Privacy Act and Online FOIA Request (G-639)
- Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card (I-90)
- Petition for Alien Relative (I-130)
- Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status (I-539)
- Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (N-336)
- Application for Naturalization (N-400)
- Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document (N-565)
- Application for Certificate of Citizenship (N-600)
- Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 (N-600K).
To start filing online, you first have to create a free USCIS online account on their website under the ‘Sign Up’ button. You will be asked for a valid email address and to create a password. Signing in uses two-factor authentication to make it extra secure.
After your account has been authenticated, you can select a form to fill in and upload the requested documents. Remember, you mustn’t leave any fields blank.
Once this is done, you’ll be able to review your submission before signing it digitally with your full name. You can then pay the filing fee with a credit or debit card on the online system.
You can also use your account to check appointment notices for biometric services, upload extra RFE documentation, check the status of your application and mail an immigration service officer with any queries.
- How Do I Speak to a Live Person at USCIS?
- How Many Citizenships Can You Have?
- How Do I Know Which USCIS Service Center?
- How Do I Know If USCIS Received My Application?
- What “Country of Residence” and How to Know Yours When on a Visa
- How to Check Dropbox Eligibility with the App
Dealing with the USCIS can be complicated, but it’s a necessary process for receiving and maintaining your legal status in the country.
Whether your petitioning for a nonimmigrant worker, attempting to adjust your immigration status, or trying to apply for a new travel document, understanding how to send documents to the USCIS is a crucial step in a successful application.