General Tips on Assembling USCIS Immigration Applications for Mailing

Note 1: 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.

Note 2: 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.

Note 3: Provide both the receipt notice number and the A-Number as an identifier, if they are available.

Note 4: 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.

Note 5: 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.

Note 6: 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. 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.

Note 7: If you are sending more than one case in an envelope, clearly separate the cases by rubber band or clip fasteners.

Note 8: A form G-28 is not acceptable unless signed by the authorized representative and the petitioner (re: petitions) or the applicant (re: applications). Facsimile signature stamps are acceptable for the signature of the representatives. However, applicants/petitioners must live sign the initial Form G-28 submitted with the application/petition. Any subsequent Form G-28 relating to the same case may be a photocopy of the original, which should be already attached to the relating case.

Note 9: Send copies of any prior approval notices with any new requests for extensions of stay, change of status or amended petitions.

Note 10: 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.

Note 11: 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.

Note 12: If you believe your situation to be unique, explain it fully in an attachment to the packet, not as a cover letter.

Note 13: 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.

Note 14: 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.

Note 15: 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.

Note 16: DUPLICATE FILINGS (without fee): Cases will be accepted as a duplicate filing only when USCIS has specifically requested that a duplicate be filed. In such a case, be sure to submit the receipt number of original filing or any copies of notices received from USCIS on the first filing when submitting a duplicate petition or application.

Note 17: The address block on the forms is the data field captured for all of our mailings. Consistent with the limitations on the number of characters per line (a maximum of 32) and the total numbers of lines (4) in that field, whatever is in the block will become the mailing address used by the system. The data in these fields is entered exactly as indicated on the forms. Please include internal routing symbols in the address block, especially for large organizations. It is better to abbreviate the name of the organization and have space for the routing codes than to fully spell out the name and have notices sit in the organization's mailroom.

Note 18: Recognized authorities: Many I-129 petitions filed with evidence of the beneficiary's education or accomplishments include documentation submitted by various authorities. For example, petitions for artists and entertainers may include evidence the beneficiary has received an award or other recognition of achievement. Petitions for individuals employed in a specialty occupation may include evidence the beneficiary belongs to a professional organization. When an individual's awards or membership is used to support a petition, evidence establishing the reputation of that organization must also be submitted. Examples of the type of evidence needed includes the following: the size and standing of the organization or the organization's requirements for membership and any other documentation which would establish the reputation of that organization.

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.

Note 19: 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.