How Do I Know If I Need Original Documents?
Applications and Petitions must be submitted in the original.
The USCIS requires documentation to prove the existence of relationships and facts in support of petitions and applications. The following will clarify when originals are required and when photocopies may be submitted.
Submission of Supporting Documents - Original vs. Photocopy - If a supporting document is prepared by the issuing authority solely for the purpose of presentation to USCIS, an applicant or petitioner must submit the original document with the application or petition. Examples of supporting documents which must be presented in the original are:
NOTE: If the applicant or petitioner has already submitted the original document to the USCIS in connection with another matter, he or she may submit a photocopy along with an explanation of when and why the original was previously sent to the USCIS.
For all other documents, the applicant may submit a photocopy of the document required; however, he or she may be required to present the original:
An original document submitted under these circumstances will be returned to the petitioner or applicant when no longer required.
NOTE: Although the law prohibits duplication of naturalization certificates, certificates of citizenship, and Permanent Resident Cards (formerly known as Alien Registration Cards and commonly called “Green Cards”) for some purposes, that prohibition does not apply to making a photocopy for submission to the USCIS in conjunction with an application or petition.
NOTE: Original documents submitted when not required will remain a part of the record. If you decided at a later time that you want your original returned, please file Form G-884 with the office where you submitted the original document(s). The Form G-884 is available for those in the U.S. through Forms by Mail.
How Do I Get Original Documents Back?
Original documents submitted when not required will remain a part of the record. If you decided at a later time that you want your original returned, please file Form G-884 with the office where you submitted the original document(s). The Form G-884 is available for those in the U.S. through Forms by Mail but is not available on this website.
Regulations: 8 CFR 103.2(b)(4); 8 CFR 204.1(f).