Although the world has clearly moved into ‘The Digital Age', government agencies are often far behind modern technology, and USCIS is no exception.
There are currently 14 USCIS petitions that are able to be filed online, out of a whopping 103 forms on the USCIS website, and out of those 14, at least three of those have to be filed by mail if the petitioner wants to apply for a fee waiver or fee reduction. That leaves a lot of paper filings for USCIS to go through, and although USCIS has announced plans to offer all forms online by the end of fiscal year 2026, that is a long way off.
In the meantime USCIS is attempting to make things as smooth as possible with the petitions it does receive by mail, especially since USCIS has a reported backlog of over 5 million petitions. One of the ways USCIS is hoping to move things along faster is by detailing recommendations for paper filings in order to avoid scanning delays. The agency has announced that those sending in petitions by mail should not do the following:
- Hole punch, staple, paper clip, binder clip, or otherwise attach documents to one another.
- Include photos or documents smaller than 4x6 inches for evidentiary purposes. Photocopies of the photos should be provided instead (with the exception of passport pictures).
- Include anything that contains electronic chips and batteries (such as musical greeting cards) or any non-paper materials such as cassette tapes, CD-ROMs, DVDs, toys, action figures, or thumb drives. Instead, photographs or photocopies of those items will be accepted.
- Submit forms or evidence documents bound with a binding or spiral wire/plastic.
- Submit evidence using photo albums, scrapbooks, binders, or greeting cards.
- Fold documents.
- Place sticky notes on documents.
- Use insertable tab dividers.
- Print forms on colored paper.
- Submit more than one copy of the same document or evidence unless required by the form instructions or regulations. If you are required to submit a copy of a complete prior application, petition, or request, clearly mark it as a “COPY” at the top of each page to ensure it is processed as intended.
- Send original documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, driver's licenses, passports, naturalization certificates, except when:
- Required by the form instructions for the application, petition, or request you are filing; or
- USCIS specifically issues a request for you to submit an original document.
USCIS has stated that following the above recommendations will continue to improve its efficiency, and we continue to hope that that is the case.
If you have questions about your immigration status or need help filing a petition please reach out to us at (757) 422-8472, or send us a message on our website. You can also schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys by clicking on this link.