WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the “Public Charge” rule deadline looming to become effective on February 24, more than ever, you need to be extra careful about filing any immigration application with the USCIS to make sure that it arrives on time and is accepted. Before filing your Immigration application, use the following tips to ensure proper filing.

1) Eligibility: Before filing any application with the USCIS, make sure that you meet all the eligibility requirements. This is vital now that an application denial can lead to deportation.

2) Use the correct Form: Be sure you have the most current edition of the form. Never pay for forms, they are free. To download the current edition of each form, go to www.USCIS.gov and click on the Forms link, then choose your form.

3) Supporting Documents: If possible, make sure and include all required documents so your case is not delayed. Read the Form Instructions and enclose copies of the required supporting documents listed. Never send originals. However, due to time restraints in getting applications filed before the “Public Charge” rule go into effect next week, certain documents may not be available before the case is sent. In such cases, send the majority of the documents now, then wait for the USCIS officer to send a request for any additional documents missing. Never mail documents in separately, once the case has been filed without a USCIS request, since they will be sent back to you.

4) Foreign Language Documents: All documents in a foreign language must be accompanied by an English translation and Certificate of Translation” signed by the translator, attesting to the fact that they are fluent in the foreign language and English. Example: I [name of translator], certify that I am fluent in the English and [type in name of foreign language, for instance, Spanish] languages, and that the above is an accurate translation of the attached document. Have the translator sign, date and type in his or her address. If it’s not possible to get foreign language documents translated in time, wait for the USCIS officer to send a request for it and send it in at that time.

5) Copies: Keep copies of every page of your signed application, all supporting documents and check/money order for your records.

6) Filing Fees: Make sure the USCIS filing fee is correct. Go online to the USCIS website and click on the Forms link to see the current filing fee for each form, then use the USCIS Fees Calculator to determine the exact filing fee. https://www.uscis.gov/feecalculator Pay particular attention to applications, which require biometrics fees in addition to the regular filing fees. You can pay your fees by regular personal check, Cashier’s Check, Money Orders, Credit Cards, Debit Cards and even Gift Cards. If using a card, you will need to download and complete form G-1450. However, be very careful about making sure that you have enough funds in the card for the filing fees and fill out a separate G-1450 form for the filing fee for each separate form. For instance, if your residency application is based upon marriage, you will need to fill out a form G-1450 for the form I-485 for $1,225 and a separate one for form I-130 $535.   

7) Sending your application: Use Fed-ex or USPS Priority Mail or Express Mail with tracking. Be sure to get delivery confirmation a few days after you send your application, to confirm it was received and save the confirmation for your records.

8) Sign-up for E-Notification: Always file Form G-1145 with your application (put it on top of your forms), to receive a text message or email e-notification confirming that the application was received and accepted for processing by the USCIS along with the case receipt number(s).

9) Sign-up for Email Case Updates: Once you receive your USCIS Receipt (called I-797 Notice of Action) – usually in about 10 days, go online to www.USCIS.gov and click on “Check your case status” then sign-up for email updates on your case using your case number.

10) Check USCIS Processing Times: Go to www.USCIS.gov and click on “Check your case status” then scroll down and click on “USCIS Processing Times Information” and click on the Service Center or office where your case is processing to see the current processing times for your application type.