In 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) has continued to see an uptick in the volume of applications submitted and a consequent increase in their backlog and processing times. Part of this increase in the volume of applications comes from applicants who are filling out and filing applications on their own. While an attorney is not required to fill out an application, Applicants filling out applications on their own tend to make repeat mistakes. With the backlog already so great, it is important to file properly completed applications to avoid further delays in application processing times. To help Applicants identify those mistakes, here is a list of common errors to look out for:
- Forgetting to sign the application where required: if an application is submitted without proper signatures, the application is automatically rejected and returned.
- Using outdated forms: USCIS changes its forms every few years and it is important to use the most current form. The best way to avoid this mistake is to download the forms from the USCIS website directly.
- Leaving parts of the application blank: all sections of the application must be answered unless indicated to leave blank if not applicable.
- Using colored ink or illegible writing: we personally recommend typing the answers into the form; however, if this is not possible, to use a simple black pen with legible writing.
- Failure to repeat vital information: In most cases, applications require the same information to be repeated on consecutive pages of the application, such as an applicant’s A#, name, date of birth etc. Most times, filling this information out solely on the first page of the application is not sufficient.
- Paying the wrong fee: Likely the biggest mistake that applicants make is paying the wrong fee. We highly recommend applicants double check the USCIS website for that specific application to learn the fee, the acceptable forms of payment, and who the payment should be made out to before submitting a filing fee.
- Binding or stapling the documents: USCIS needs to be able to easily separate the documents and suggest using paper clips instead of heavy duty staples or binding compressors.
- Original documents: Another common mistake made by applications is submitting original documents in an application to USCIS; do not, and USCIS repeats this, send original documents in an application ever. Always submit photocopies unless originals are specifically requested.
- Sending packages to wrong filing address: Always double check the filing address based on the state the Applicant resides in. Sending it to the wrong address could be an improper filing.
Because of the ever growing backlog, it is imperative that you double and triple check an application before mailing it out so as to avoid getting it rejected and returned to you, thereby increasing delays in processing times again.
If you are interested in learning more about application processes or common mistakes, or about how some of these mistakes might affect a pending or past immigration application or petition, feel free to contact our office at 713-589-2085 or email us at [email protected]slaw.com to set up a consultation.