By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
Properly submitting an immigration application to USCIS is a multi-step process.
To ensure that your application doesn't get rejected for avoidable reasons, it is crucial to review a final checklist before sending it off. In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide to help you avoid common USCIS application mistakes.
If you’re applying for an immigration application without a lawyer, hopefully it’s a simple application (such as green card renewal, or an I-130). If your case has any wrinkles or unusual issues, you may want to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer.
This is the checklist we use internally at Malakouti Law before sending an application to USCIS.
Note: different types of USCIS applications have additional items that must be “checked” in addition to the general items listed here. Contact a qualified immigration lawyer for case-specific guidance.
1. Are All Required Documents (Both Forms & Supporting Documents) Present?
The cover letter is an essential component of your application package. It serves as a concise introduction to your submission and outlines the documents included in your immigration application.
Before sealing the envelope, ensure that all the documents mentioned in the cover letter are present. When submitting a document that has 10 or more documents, this is a common oversight that can lead to unnecessary delays or rejections.
2. Are You Using the Most Current USCIS Forms?
Always verify that you are using the most current version of USCIS application forms.
USCIS regularly updates their forms, and using outdated versions can result in rejection. Even if you downloaded the application form from USCIS, it is essential to confirm that it matches the latest version available on their website. Failure to do so can lead to processing delays and potential complications.
3. Did You Fill Out All Fields in the Forms?
During the Trump administration, USCIS became more stringent regarding leaving fields blank in forms, sometimes even rejecting the applications as a result.
It’s best practice now to fill out all fields with either relevant information or indicate "none" or "N/A" when the question does not apply to you. Double-check that every box in your USCIS applications is appropriately filled to avoid rejection or request for additional information.
4. Are You Sending the Application to the Correct Address?
USCIS has specific instructions on where to send your application based on your location and the type of application.
It is crucial to carefully review and follow these instructions. Ensure that the address mentioned in your cover letter matches the address provided on the USCIS website. Sending your application to the wrong address can result in delays or non-processing due to your application being “lost in the ether.”
5. Are All Forms Signed & Dated?
Check that all documents requiring a signature are appropriately signed.
Forgetting to sign forms is a common oversight that will almost certainly lead to either 1) rejection or 2) a time-sucking request for evidence. Take the time to review each document and ensure that all necessary signatures are in place before submission.
6. Did You Include Passport Photos (if Necessary)?
Many USCIS applications require passport photos.
It is essential to check the specific requirements for each application and include the correct number of photos. While USCIS may occasionally overlook a shortage of one or two photos, it is best not to take any chances. Double-check the instructions and provide the appropriate number of passport photos to avoid unnecessary complications.
7. Did You Scan the Package BEFORE Sending?
Before sealing the envelope, scan the entire application package, including payment and passport photos, for your record-keeping purposes.
This is very important for anyone submitting an application to USCIS, and in our office, it’s mandatory practice. Scanning the documents allows you to have a complete record of what you submitted to USCIS, which can be valuable in case of future issues or consultation with an attorney.
8.Did you address payment to the correct recipient?
When submitting your payment for the USCIS application, it is crucial to ensure that it is addressed correctly.
Many applicants mistakenly make the payment out to USCIS, US DHS, or simply Immigration. However, as of the date of this article (June 12th, 2023), the correct recipient for the payment is the “US Department of Homeland Security.” Always check the USCIS website itself to make sure you are addressing your payment to the right entity.
While it is true that some applications with incorrect payment addresses have been cashed, it is always better to follow the correct procedure to eliminate any potential risks.
Request a Consultation with Malakouti Law
Submitting an immigration application to USCIS is a significant milestone in your journey. If you want to be represented by a professional, book a consultation with Malakouti Law now to get started.
Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified immigration and citizenship lawyer about your case before taking any steps. The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Attorney marketing.