Tip of the Week #18
In today’s Tip of the Week, I’m going to share form filing tips for your immigration applications. I have explained before that you do NOT need an immigration attorney to file your immigration application. However, it is a smart idea to hire one.
Should I hire an immigration attorney?
An immigration attorney can ensure that all the documents that are needed are filed to support your application and that a legal argument is made explaining why you should be granted the benefit for which you are applying.
What if I can’t afford an attorney?
Honestly, even though an immigration attorney can be expensive, you can save yourself time and money by hiring one rather than running into problems that occur more frequently if you don’t hire one. But…say you can’t hire one, then this video is going to give you the best tips I have for doing almost as good of a job as I would do for you.
Can I file for immigration benefits on my own?
You might think that filling out a form is no big deal. You can even do it online, right?
Well, not so fast. What happened in immigration is that the previous presidential administration caused USCIS to adopt a new policy that USCIS could DENY your application for errors.
Before this they would usually reject it, send it back to you, and then you could fix it. Now, they can actually take your application AND fee, accept it and then deny your application because it isn’t filled out right.
What You Should Do When Filling Out USCIS Forms
I don’t want either (a rejection or denial) to happen to you so I’m going to share 7 things to do when filling out the forms for the best chance of success.
1 – Use the most current form version.
Make sure you’re using the most current version of the form. You can download the forms from the USCIS website and they will tell you what the current version required is. If you printed out an application and started filling it out and didn’t send it in right away, I would go back and check to make sure the form you filled out is still the most current.
2 – Make sure your answers are readable.
Use black ink, if you don’t fill it out on the computer (typed).
3 – Don’t make unnecessary markings.
Do not use highlighters or correction tape. USCIS scans your documents and both of those may cause the machine to not read information if these are on the papers.
4 – Don’t leave anything blank.
Fill out each space. Even if the answer is not applicable you must fill in the space with an N/A or they could reject and/or deny your application.
5 – Provide consistent answers.
Make sure when you provide the same information – the same way – in all your applications. What do I mean? Often when you apply, you must submit several forms at one time. In these form they may ask for your name, DOB, and address each time. So put your name, DOB, a number and anything else that is the same, the same in each one.
6 – Pay the correct amount for your application fee.
Make sure you include the correct fee with your application. The USCIS website will tell you how much it is. They even have a calculator there. If you don’t send the correct amount, your application will be returned to you which will slow down the process.
7 – Sign your forms and use single-sided papers.
Make sure to sign the form and only send forms on single-sided papers. No saving the environment here, use up those trees, and don’t use each side of the paper. This goes back to them scanning in the documents – they don’t flip the papers over if you use both sides.
What to Do After Filling Out Forms
Now you’ve filled out the forms and you’re ready to send it. Now what?
Here’s another seven (7) bonus tips:
- Hold documents together with rubber bands, fasteners or paper clips NOT staples.
- If you want to create an index, use tabs at the bottoms of the pages to help the officer find things easily.
- USCIS likes if you two-hole punch the tops of pages.
- Do not submit originals unless specifically requested.
- I highly recommend that you mail your application and any other documents to USCIS via an overnight service with tracking.
- Make sure you mail it to the right location.
- Make sure you keep a copy of everything you send, even the application you filled out.
There you have it, those are (most of) my best tips for success in filing applications with USCIS.
Call Our New Jersey Immigration Attorney!
If you’re applying for an immigration benefit, call our New Jersey immigration attorney at Andres Mejer Law to get help preparing your petition and avoid making mistakes that will cause delays in your immigration process.
Call us today to schedule a consultation.