Tips for Preparing USCIS Immigration Forms

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USCIS adjudicator approves immigration form

Are you getting ready to prepare an immigration form for yourself or your relative? In most cases, you can do it without the aid of an immigration lawyer. But an inaccurate or carelessly prepared form can delay an application or result in a denial. Likewise, a poorly prepared application package can cause unnecessary delays and trigger additional questions. In fact, certain mistakes when preparing USCIS immigration forms can potentially tarnish a person’s immigration record forever.

In the fiscal year 2020, USCIS rejected 11 percent of the 9.5 million applications filed at lockbox facilities. That's over 1 million applications rejected! (It is also up over 300,000 from the previous year.) See how CitizenPath can help you file correctly, guaranteed.

Here are some helpful tips for preparing USCIS immigration applications and petitions:

Answer All Questions When Preparing USCIS Immigration Forms

First, answer every relevant question honestly. Even small deviations in the truth can create problems for you if USCIS learns the true facts later. In the long run, it's always better to provide the truth. If you feel the truth may create a problem for you, speak to an immigration attorney before filing the form.

In some cases, "unknown" is an acceptable answer. For example, a question may ask, "where was your immigrant visa approved?" If you do not know, do not remember, and have exhausted a reasonable search for the information, entering "unknown" is a valid answer.

If a question does not apply, you still need to respond. Write “N/A” (not applicable) instead of leaving the space blank. For example, if you are asked “What is your current spouse’s nationality,” but you do not have a spouse, you should answer “N/A” because the question does not apply to your situation.

Be Consistent When Preparing USCIS Immigration Forms

It may seem obvious, but you should avoid any confusion when filling out USCIS immigration forms. USCIS may perceive inconsistent answers as dishonest answers.

For example, you might live with a friend but use your parents’ address to get mail. USCIS forms will ask for your residence (e.g. the physical place you live) and mailing address (e.g. the place you receive mail). Be careful to answer correctly and consistently in response.

List All Your Name(s) When Preparing USCIS Immigration Forms

At first glance providing your name should be a simple answer. However, USCIS may ask for every variation of your name. Again, it's important that you provide all versions of your name to avoid confusion and maintain consistency.

Here are some important things to get straight before you start writing your name(s) in the forms:

helpful tips when preparing USCIS immigration forms
  • Married Name

    If you have recently married and changed your last name, use your married name. But if you are continuing to use your maiden name, that’s okay too. Don’t change it solely for the sake of your immigration application, even if you are trying to obtain a green card based on marriage.

  • Current Name

    When your current name is requested, it is best to insert the name you currently use for legal purposes. This will normally be the name on your bank account, driver’s license, and passport. If you have been known by a nickname (for example, your name is James but you always use the common nickname “Jim”), its okay to fill in the application as “Jim,” as long as you list “James” where the form asks for other names used. This will avoid confusion when USCIS compares your application form with the accompanying documents (your employer, for example, might write a letter saying “Jim worked here . . .”).

  • Legal Name Changes

    If you have actually obtained a court-ordered legal name change, include a copy of the court order, to help dispel some of the inevitable confusion. If you have changed your name without a court order (by simply beginning to use a different name and using it consistently, which is legal in many U.S. states) and you use your changed name for all legal purposes, list it as your current name.

  • Other Names

    The category for “other names used” could include nicknames. The immigration authorities will want to know about nicknames that might be shown on your various legal documents (or a criminal record). You should also include names by which you have been publicly known, especially as an adult. However, personal names used within your household such as “sugar-pie” or “little brother” need not be included. Nor should unwanted childhood nicknames.

  • Previous Married Names

    If you have been married before, remember to list your name from that marriage in the boxes requesting other names used.

Translations When Preparing USCIS Immigration Forms

If you have included any foreign language documents, you must also submit certified translations. The translator must certify that they are competent to translate and that the translation is accurate. The certification format should include the certifier's name, signature, address, and date of certification.

Application Packages When Preparing USCIS Immigration Forms

If you are submitting attachments to your application to provide additional information, be sure to include your complete name and A-number (if applicable).

Always provide photocopies of your supporting documents (e.g. marriage certificates, school records, etc.) unless you are specifically requested to include an original and/or certified copy.

When you assemble the application package, place your payment (if applicable) on top, followed by a cover letter, USCIS form(s), and any supporting documentation. Do not use staples. USCIS prefers the use of ACCO fasteners to hold together thick or bulky applications.

When preparing your immigration forms on CitizenPath, we provide you with a set of personalized filing instructions. Our filing instructions are customized to your answers in the application so you know what to do for your specific situation. The filing instructions provide detailed directions on supporting documents, how to organize your application, and where to mail it.

After You Have Filed

If you file Form G-1145 together with your primary application or petition, USCIS will provide you a notification via text or e-mail upon acceptance of that primary form. Otherwise, you can enter your receipt number to track your case status on the USCIS website. USCIS will provide you a receipt number approximately 2-4 weeks after filing.

Select any of the following forms to see a USCIS case processing timeline as well as historical charts for processing times and case backlog data:

About CitizenPath

CitizenPath helps you to avoid mistakes, errors and oversights when preparing USCIS immigration forms.

CitizenPath provides simple, affordable, step-by-step guidance through USCIS immigration applications. Individuals, attorneys and non-profits use the service on desktop or mobile device to prepare immigration forms accurately, avoiding costly delays. CitizenPath allows users to try the service for free and provides a 100% money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve the application or petition. We provide support for the Adjustment of Status Application (Form I-485), Naturalization Application (Form N-400), and several other immigration services.

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