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Form Filing Tips

It's important for you to understand how the USCIS application process works. Knowing the facts will help you avoid scams.

Top 10 Tips Before You File

  1. The official website for USCIS is www.uscis.gov.
  2. USCIS does not charge you a fee to download forms. Visit our Forms page to get free forms and learn more about filing fees.
  3. Read the form instructions before completing the form. Remember to fill in all required fields and send in any required documentation.
  4. You must sign your form before sending it to USCIS. 
  5. Before you sign an immigration form make sure that you understand it and that the information on it is true and accurate.
  6. Never sign blank forms.
  7. USCIS requires you to pay a filing fee for most forms. Please see the list of fees on our website.
  8. You can pay filing fees with a money order, certified check or valid credit card.
  9. Make sure you get a receipt for any payment you make to an attorney or accredited representative.
  10. Keep copies of all forms and other documents that you file with USCIS.

Top 3 Tips After You File

  1. USCIS will mail you a receipt after we receive your application. Make sure to keep the receipt for your records.
  2. Use the receipt number on your receipt to track the status of your application online.
  3. If you have questions about your application, you can make a free Infopass appointment to visit a USCIS office and speak with an immigration officer.

Tips for Working with an Attorney or Accredited Representative

  • If you're working with an attorney, check with the state bar association to verify that the attorney is eligible to practice in—and is a member in good standing of the bar of the highest court of—any U.S. state, possession, territory or commonwealth, or the District of Columbia.
  • If working with a non-attorney, verify whether the individual is an accredited representative of an organization recognized by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA).
  • Know the law in your state. Some states have specific laws regulating immigration consultants.
  • If you are unsure whether your immigration service provider is giving trustworthy advice, do not hesitate to seek a second opinion. When doing so, always work with a licensed attorney or BIA-accredited representative.

Learn the warning signs of immigration services scams by visiting our Common Scams page.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 06/09/2011