How to File USCIS Forms by Mail: A Step-by-Step Guide

Filing forms with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) by mail is a process that must be approached with attention to detail. Applicants are advised to download the necessary forms from the USCIS website. These forms should be completed electronically and then printed for submission. This method ensures legibility and accuracy, which are paramount to avoid delays in processing.

For individuals who prefer or are required to send paper forms, it’s crucial to use black ink when handwriting answers. Mailed forms must not be duplicates of any documents previously submitted online. USCIS provides guidance on which forms are available to file online and which ones can be ordered for mail-based filing, intended strictly for individual use.

To achieve an efficient submission, the instructions provided by USCIS for each form should be followed meticulously. This includes double-checking mailing addresses, as they vary depending on the form and the applicant’s location. Compiling the necessary supporting documents as directed is essential. USCIS offers checklists and filing tips on their website to assist applicants throughout the process.

Understanding USCIS Forms

When filing with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it is essential to use the correct forms, as each serves a distinct purpose and requires careful attention to detail for successful submission.

Different Types of USCIS Forms

USCIS offers a multitude of forms, each designed for specific immigration-related processes. They vary widely from applications for naturalization (Form N-400), petitions for alien relatives (Form I-130), to employment authorization documents (Form I-765). It is vital to select the correct form that corresponds to the immigration benefit sought.

  • Form N-400: Application for Naturalization
  • Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
  • Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization
  • Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-90: Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card

Purpose of Each Form

Each USCIS form serves a specific segment of the immigration process. For example, Form N-400 is used by individuals seeking to become naturalized citizens of the United States. Form I-130 is filled out by U.S. sponsors who wish to establish a family relationship with an alien relative for immigration purposes. Form I-765 allows individuals who are temporarily in the U.S. to apply for authorization to work legally in the country. Understanding the exact purpose of each form is crucial to properly navigate the immigration system and avoid unnecessary delays.

Preparing the Forms

Before mailing any forms to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), individuals must identify the appropriate documents, complete them with precision, and adhere to signature protocols.

Finding the Right Forms

Individuals can obtain the necessary USCIS forms by downloading them from the official USCIS website. The website provides a comprehensive list of all available forms, including instructions for each form. It’s crucial to select the correct form for one’s specific immigration needs to avoid processing delays.

Completing the Forms Accurately

The forms should be filled out clearly and legibly. If completing the forms by hand, one must use black ink. If available, filling out forms electronically and then printing them is preferable. This often helps in reducing errors and ensuring all data is legible. All questions must be answered completely; if a section does not apply, one should write ‘N/A’ (not applicable) instead of leaving it blank. Double-checking for accuracy before printing will ensure that all information is correct and complete.

Signature Requirements

Every form submitted to USCIS must be signed as unsigned forms will be rejected. Signatures must be original on each form; stamped or typewritten signatures are not accepted. Some forms may require a signature from multiple parties; for instance, a petitioner and a beneficiary. In such cases, ensure that everyone signs the form where required.

Required Documentation

When filing USCIS forms by mail, applicants must include all necessary documentation to avoid delays or denials. Accurate preparation and assembly of these documents is crucial.

Supporting Documents

Each USCIS form comes with specific instructions that list the required supporting documents. These might include:

  • Evidence of eligibility (e.g., birth certificates, marriage certificates)
  • Proof of status (e.g., copy of green card, visa)
  • Prior USCIS notices (if applicable)

All documents must be legible and photocopied on standard white, 8.5 x 11-inch paper, unless the instructions state otherwise.

Photograph Specifications

Certain forms require photographs. The specifications are as follows:

  • 2 x 2 inches in size
  • Color photo with a white to off-white background
  • Taken within the last 30 days to reflect the applicant’s current appearance
  • No glasses or headwear unless worn daily for religious purposes

Photographs must meet all requirements to avoid processing delays.


Any document submitted in a language other than English must include:

  • A full English translation
  • A certification from the translator stating that:
    • The translation is complete and accurate
    • The translator is competent to translate the specific language to English

This certification must include the translator’s name, signature, address, and date of translation.

Mailing the Forms

When filing USCIS forms by mail, applicants must ensure they use the correct address, include the appropriate filing fees, and retain proof of mailing to document the submission process.

Determining the Correct Address

Each USCIS form may have a specific mailing address which varies depending on the form type and the applicant’s location. These addresses are subject to change, so it is crucial to verify the current address for the form you are submitting on the official USCIS website. Some forms are processed at a Lockbox facility, while others go directly to service centers. Applicants should double-check the address right before mailing to prevent any delays.

USCIS Filing Fees

Filing fees for USCIS forms can vary and should be confirmed through the USCIS website or the form’s instructions. Payments should be made via a check or money order drawn on a U.S. financial institution and payable in U.S. dollars. The payment should be made to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (do not use abbreviations like DHS or USDHS). Ensure that all payment information is correct and included with the form to prevent rejection.

Proof of Mailing

Applicants are advised to send their forms via a traceable mail service, such as USPS Certified Mail or a courier service that provides tracking. This allows for the confirmation of delivery to USCIS. Keeping a copy of the completed forms along with the tracking number and proof of delivery can be vital should any questions arise regarding the submission.

After Submission

Once a form is submitted to USCIS by mail, an applicant should be prepared to monitor the processing and respond appropriately to any USCIS correspondence.

Receipt Notice

After USCIS receives the mailed form, they issue a Receipt Notice. This notice confirms that the application or petition has been received and provides a tracking number, known as a Receipt Number. Applicants should keep this notice, as it will be necessary for future reference and when making inquiries about their case status.

Tracking Applications

An applicant can track the status of their submission using the Receipt Number on the USCIS online case status tool. This tool updates an applicant on the current processing stage and any actions that may be required. Regularly checking one’s case status helps an applicant stay informed about their application process.

Responding to Requests for Evidence

If USCIS requires more information to make a decision, they will send a Request for Evidence (RFE). Respondents must read the RFE carefully, provide all requested information, and adhere to the deadline specified in the notice. Mailing the response to the correct address as provided in the RFE is crucial for timely processing. Failure to respond, or responding inadequately, may result in a delay or denial of the application.