Planning on moving to the U.S.? You may need to fill in one or more USCIS immigration forms. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ( USCIS ) issues out these immigration forms to collect information and allow you to prove that you qualify to become an American.
These forms do not automatically grant you a visa into the United States. However, their approval is essential to the authorization of your visa and its extension.
Types of USCIS Immigration Forms
While there are other types of forms, there are two major categories of forms on the USCIS website.
These forms are for requesting benefits. With this form, a petitioner can request a benefit on behalf of someone else, (called the beneficiary.) Most often, the benefits are either associated with an immigrant status or a non-immigrant status. This is because many types of immigration benefits require that a US person, such as a family member, or a US business to “sponsor” or “petition” the immigrant. The immigrant cannot always file for themselves without a petition.
These are the main forms you will need in most cases. They’re related to entry into, and departure from the United States. Also, application forms are relevant for work authorization in the U.S..
Most Common USCIS Forms
Form I-485 (Application for Permanent Residence):
This is the green card application form. It allows immigrants to become lawful permanent residents.
Form N-400 (Application for Naturalization):
It is the application for citizenship/naturalization. This form helps you apply to become a citizen of the United States.
Form N-600 (Application for Certificate of Citizenship):
This form is for children. The application calls for an official certificate declaring a child to be a bonafide citizen of the U.S.
Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative):
If a U.S. citizen or permanent resident wishes to assist the immigration of a family member or relative to the United States, this form is what they need.
Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker):
An employer files this form on behalf of a non-immigrant worker. It allows the worker to travel to the U.S. temporarily to either perform certain services or receive training.
Form I-751 (Petition to Remove Conditions on Residence):
This form helps permanent residents to request a waiver or change of conditions (if any) attached to their residential status.
Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support):
A green-card holder or citizen files this form on behalf of a family member or relative. However, the petitioner must show the capacity to support such an intending immigrant.
This prevents such an intending immigrant from becoming a public charge. That is, the intending immigrant must not partake in receiving any means tested benefits(such as food stamps).
This is a unique form for only officials of USCIS. Its function is to approve or issue a notice of receipt for applications.
Basic Filing Instructions For USCIS Immigration Forms
Certain instructions are peculiar to each form, and are readily available on the USCIS website. However, here are the basic instructions you must consider:
- You must answer all questions applicable to you correctly. In case a question doesn’t apply to you, you can type or print “N/A” in response. [Note: some forms, such as the I-589 and I-918 require a response such as “N/A” on every blank. Or else the form will be rejected. Note further: a lawsuit has been filed to challenge this policy]
- You must fill all USCIS immigration forms in only black ink. You can only type or print legibly in black ink.
- For your forms to be valid, all signatures must be handwritten. Stamped or typewritten names cannot stand in place of a handwritten signature. [Note: During the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS began to allow digital photocopies or scans of original handwritten signatures to be submitted. As of this writing, the policy continues but may change at any time.]
- While all USCIS immigration forms are free to download, there are filing fees peculiar to each form. Check the USCIS website for the exact filing and processing fee per form.
- Ensure that all evidence and supporting documentation are submitted at the time of your filing the form. Also, you must submit only duplicate copies of your documents. You only submit original copies of documents at USCIS’s request.
- All submitted evidence and supporting documents must be in the English language. In case of submission in a different language, please submit a fully translated version of such documents. [Note: You must submit both the foreign language document and the certified English translation. If you submit only the translation, the filing may be rejected.]