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How to Assemble an Immigration Application Package

When mailing an immigration application to the USCIS, properly organizing your documents and assembling your package is critical to minimize handling errors. Below is a list of general tips that apply to most cases. However, if USCIS has published specific instructions (FY 2010 H-1B petitions, for example), or is asking you for further information, always follow their exact instructions.

  • Enclose a cover letter describing what you are sending: original application, response to RFE, Motion to Re-open, etc.
  • Attach correct fee payment such as a check on top of the package. (see a sample check)
  • Mark the envelope as to the nature of the submission, and types of forms enclosed.
  • Provide reference numbers, such as I-797 receipt numbers and your A-Number, if applicable.
  • If the packet is being resubmitted in response to a REQUEST FOR ADDITIONAL EVIDENCE (RFE), please place the RFE notice 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.
  • Gather all documents required and send them in one package.
  • Complete all forms and sign them. Make sure all entries are complete and legible. It is highly recommended to use a typewriter, or better yet, fill out a PDF form on a computer and print it out using a laser or inkjet printer.
  • Note the difference between "N/A" and "None." For example, if a form asks about your other names and you don't have any, enter "None," not "N/A" which means "Not Applicable."
  • Don't assume the officer will have access to a prior file or record. Try to send a "complete" package at once. Keep copies of all submissions.
  • If you believe your situation to be unique, explain it fully in an attachment to the packet, not as a cover letter.
  • All foreign language documents must be translated and the translator (could be you) must certify that he or she is competent to translate and that the translation is accurate.
  • Use ACCO fasteners or heavy clips, instead of heavy-duty staples, binders or folders that are hard to disassemble.
  • Two-hole punching the top of the material for easy placement in the file is welcome.
  • 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.
  • Avoid submitting originals unless specifically required.
  • Avoid submitting oversized documentation when possible. US Letter or A4 sizes are recommended.
  • If you are sending more than one case in an envelope, clearly separate the cases by rubber band or clip fasteners.
  • 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.
  • If an officer specifically requires an original document, submit it along with the request notice and write your notice Number and Alien Number in your cover letter. Note 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 as the latest Form I-20AB/I-20ID and a copy of the EAD card.
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