Let's face it, even native-born American citizens don't like filling out forms for the federal government.
For an immigrant, the task can be daunting. Language barriers and cultural differences can complicate even simple, straightforward communication with the government.
Each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services receives millions of forms and applications from immigrants. Unfortunately, untold thousands of those are rejected or discarded because they were not filled out properly.
Here are some simple tips to make sure the government accepts your form:
- Make sure you fill out the form legibly. If it's messy or damaged and the government can't read it, you'll have not chance of getting what you want.
- Answer all questions truthfully and completely. It can be a serious offense to give the government incorrect information.
- Make sure the spelling is correct - especially with names. If you need help understanding the English, then get help. Generally, most applicants will not need to consult an immigration attorney to fill out a form. You can do it yourself! But if you have a complicated you, you may want to seek a lawyer's advice.
- Follow the instructions carefully. If you need to send a fee with your document, make sure you send the right amount the right way.
- Don't forget to sign your form. An unsigned form is a simple mistake that can delay your case for months.
USCIS is constantly changing its forms, so it's important you are sure you are filling out the right one. Here are some tips from the government. Remember that forms and applications are free, though there may be a charge to file them. Beware of dishonest service providers who might try to charge you for a blank form. A warning from the federal government: Never pay for a blank USCIS form! Some useful tips from USCIS:
- You can get a form by downloading them on line at the USCIS website, or by calling 1-800-870-3676.
- Make sure you are using the most current version of the form you want. Again, USCIS is changing and revising them all the time.
- When possible, download the form from the USCIS website and complete it with a computer. This will help ensure your document is legible.
- If you do write your answers by hand, use black ink and make sure your writing is neat and stays within the space provided.
- USCIS uses special scanners to read forms and documents. The scanners will not read the information properly if it is greyed-out, highlighted or corrected using correction fluid or tape. Take time to make sure your for form is as neat as possible!
- If you do make an error, the government recommends that you start over with a clean form. Again, they're free!
- Complete the entire form. A partially completed form will not get you what you want.
Barcoded Forms - USCIS Adds New Technology
- USCIS says it has added 2D barcode technology to some of its most used forms. They include: G-28, I-90, I-131, I-821, I-864 and N-400.
- The government says that when you complete these barcoded forms with a computer, the barcode at the bottom of the page will store the data entered on the form. USCIS will be able to scan the information from the barcode and upload it directly into the USCIS system.
- USCIS says you are not required to complete the barcoded forms electronically, but immigrants are encouraged to use them and to visit the government's online form site.
- Remember the barcode captures only typed information; handwritten information is not captured by the barcode. So, you have to complete the forms fully electronically or full in handwriting.
- Take care not to damage the barcode. Give Your Form One Last InspectionBefore you file your form, look it over one last time to make sure it's accurate and complete.
USCIS says you should check these things in particular:
- Did you sign it?
- Are you sending the correct fee if one is required?
- Have you answered everything truthfully and completely?
- If you are sending more than one form, have you written your name and date of birth exactly the same way on each form? This is very important, whether you're trying to get a visa, applying for citizenship or just changing an address.
- Are you mailing your form to the correct government address? If you're not sure, check it.