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Tips for Form I-526 in USCIS ELIS

Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur is now available to file electronically through USCIS ELIS. You can upload supporting documents and track the status of your petition.


Browser Requirements

Internet Explorer versions 7, 8 or 9 and Mozilla Firefox versions 3 or 4.

If you have a newer version of Internet Explorer, we recommend that you use Mozilla Firefox. You can download the latest version of Mozilla Firefox for free at

Note: If you use another browser, such as Chrome or Safari, your information may not display correctly and you may be unable to properly complete Form I-526.


Accessing Form I-526 in USCIS ELIS

  1. Go to the USCIS ELIS homepage. Select “Log in to USCIS ELIS” (the green button on the right).
  1. Create a new USCIS ELIS account or log in to an account that you already have.
  1. Select “Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur” from the drop-down menu and select “Make a Request/Payment” as shown.

Screenshot of Form I-526 Step-by-Step Online Request or Payment screen within USCIS ELIS with arrow

  1. Select the box for “I have read and agree to the Privacy Act statement.” Then, select “I Accept.”

Screenshot of Paperwork Reduction and USCIS Privacy Acts screen within USCIS ELIS with arrow


You are now ready to begin your Form I-526. You must complete all required fields (marked with an *) before you can move to the next section of the form.


Evidence Requirements

Acceptable File Formats


File Extension

PDF (Portable Document Format)




Rich Text Format


Microsoft Word

.doc, .docx

Microsoft PowerPoint

.ppt, .pptx

Microsoft Excel

.xls, .xlsx

Graphic/image files







Web page files

.htm, .html


File Size

Each file that you upload to support Form I-526 should be smaller than 60 MB (megabytes).

If your document is larger than 60 MB, try to rescan it using your scanner’s grayscale function, or use other software to reduce the file size. Please avoid using your scanner’s black and white function.



Once you scan a document, it becomes an image. All images should be:

  • No more than 11 inches by 11 inches (about 3300 x 3300 pixels);
  • Between 100 and 300 dots per inch (DPI) in resolution (valid values are 100, 150, 200, 250, and 300 DPI);
  • In grayscale or color (24-bit or lower color preferred).

To help keep your file sizes below 60 MB, we recommend that you scan documents in a low-resolution format. Most scanners default to 300 DPI. You may need to change your scanner settings and rescan your document at a lower DPI.

If you need to resize an image, we recommend that you use Microsoft Windows Paint or Microsoft Office Picture Manager.

USCIS ELIS will automatically attempt to resize files that do not meet the requirements above. If the files cannot be resized, USCIS ELIS will reject them and you will receive an error message.

While you may continue with your petition, filing Form I-526 without supporting evidence may delay processing. For example, you may receive a request for evidence.


How to Upload Evidence

On the “Evidence Upload” screen, you should see a list of evidence categories (such as “Information About Investor,” “Investment,” and “New Commercial Enterprise”).

Each category has an “Add document” link.

Screenshot of Form I-526 Evidence Upload screen within USCIS ELIS with arrow

(To upload one document, select “I want to upload using another method.” You will be directed to the single-document upload functionality.  The single-document functionality is slower and therefore not recommended when uploading multiple documents and files.)

  1. Select “Add Document.” (If a separate window appears asking you to run the Java plugin, please select “Run.”)
  1. Select “Browse” on the next screen to locate a file to upload. Select the file and select “Open.” The filename should appear in the “Select and Upload Evidence” table. To select other files for a particular category, repeat this step.

If all of the files you want to upload are located in the same folder, you can select and upload the whole folder (instead of selecting/uploading each individual file).

(Note: Java must be enabled in your browser for these screens to display correctly. Without Java, your browser will display the single-document upload which is significantly slower.) 

  1. Once you have selected the files you need for an evidence category, select “Upload” to attach them to Form I-526. This process may take a few minutes, depending on the number and size of files you want to upload. The progress bar will show when all documents have been uploaded.
  1. Select “Next” to upload documents for another evidence category.
  1. Once you have finished uploading evidence, select “Next” to proceed to the next step in Form I-526, “Review Upload.”
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Immigrant Fee Payment: Tips on Finding Your A-Number and DOS Case ID

If you are immigrating to the United States, and you will be admitted as a lawful permanent resident, you must pay a $165 USCIS Immigrant Fee. You must pay this fee online using the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). We strongly encourage you to pay this fee after you receive your immigrant visa packet from the U.S. Embassy or consulate abroad (including Canada and Mexico) and before you depart for the United States. Paying before you depart for the United States will ensure that you receive your Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred to as a Green Card) without delay. However, you can also pay the USCIS Immigrant fee after you immigrate to the U.S. Your Green Card will be sent to you after the fee is paid.

To pay the $165 fee in USCIS ELIS, you will need an online account. Once you have created your account, you can pay the fee by logging into USCIS ELIS and selecting USCIS Immigrant Fee from the drop-down menu. You will need your Alien Number (A-Number) and DOS Case ID to pay the fee.

Please make sure you correctly enter your A-Number and DOS Case ID when paying your USCIS Immigrant Fee. Errors with either number will significantly delay your Green Card.

You can find your A-Number and DOS Case ID on your immigrant data summary, USCIS Immigrant Fee handout, or immigrant visa stamp. Your A-Number is the letter “A” followed by eight or nine numbers (such as A012345678). Your DOS Case ID is three letters followed by nine or 10 numbers (for example, XYZ0123456789).  If you are a Diversity Visa immigrant, your DOS Case ID will have four numbers followed by two letters and five more numbers (0000AB01234).

  • Immigrant Data Summary
    During your U.S. embassy or consulate appointment, you should have received an immigrant data summary stapled to the front of your immigrant visa package. You can find your A-Number and DOS Case ID at the top of the immigrant data summary, as shown in the picture below.

Immigrant Data Summary

  • USCIS Immigrant Fee Handout
    At the time of your interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate, the DOS interviewing officer should have given you a USCIS Immigrant Fee handout. This document provides instructions on how to pay the $165 immigrant fee and included your A-Number and DOS Case ID. Your A-Number and DOS Case ID are located in the top right corner, as shown below. Please make a copy of your USCIS Immigrant Fee handout or write down your A-Number and DOS Case ID and store it in a safe place.
    If you did not receive an immigrant data summary or a USCIS Immigrant Fee handout with your visa packet, please contact the U.S. embassy or consulate that issued your visa to request a copy.

Immigrant fee handout


  • Visa Stamp
    You can also find your A-Number and DOS Case ID on the visa stamp (also called a visa foil) in your passport, as shown in the picture below.
    • Your A-Number is identified as the Registration Number on your visa stamp. If your A-Number is fewer than nine digits, insert a zero after the “A” and before the first digit to create a nine-digit number. For example, “A12345678” would become “A012345678.”

Your DOS Case ID is identified as the IV Case Number on your visa stamp. However, please note the IV Case Number has two additional numbers at the end, such as 01 or 02. When entering the IV Case Number as the DOS Case ID into USCIS ELIS, do not include the last two numbers. For example, if your IV Case Number is “ABC1234567801,” you would enter your DOS Case ID as “ABC12345678” (do not include the “01”)Visa Stamp


Making an Appointment With Your Local USCIS Office
If you are still unable to find your A-Number, you can make an appointment to visit your local USCIS office. An immigration services officer can provide you with your A-Number. You can schedule this appointment by using our INFOPASS online scheduler.

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Accessibility Release Notes

USCIS Electronic Immigration System, USCIS ELIS

If you have a disability and use assistive technologies, you may not be able to use all of the features in the current release of USCIS ELIS. Future releases of USCIS ELIS will have improved accessibility features. To allow for a smooth transition, USCIS will temporarily continue to accept Forms I-539 from eligible applicants by these three methods:

We are aware that:

  • PDF/A files are not fully accessible. Please use Adobe Reader 7.x or higher to read the PDF/A files until this issue can be resolved. The Adobe Reader plug-in is available on the bottom of each Web page.
  • User help files are not fully accessible for the Index, Glossary and many types of general or content-related searches. To work around this issue, refer to the ELIS Help (Accessible PDF) link on the top of each USCIS ELIS page.

For additional assistance, please contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD for the hearing impaired).   

To help us best respond to your email, please indicate:

  • The nature of your accessibility problem
  • The preferred format in which you wish to receive the material
  • The location of the material with which you are having difficulty
  • Your contact information
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Place USCIS ELIS widgets on your website to help direct others to for complete details on a variety of topics.

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Multimedia Resources

Welcome to the USCIS ELIS multimedia resource center, a place to connect to USCIS for audiovisual and graphic tools about the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS).


Need an audio spot for your broadcast or website?  Check out this section for a range of e-filing topics.

  • Podcasts — Hear them now, or download the MP3s for later. To download a podcast, right click the file, and click Save Target As.


We have several video tips to help you e-file with USCIS ELIS:

TitleTranscript (HTML)
Video: Establishing Online AccessEnglish  Español
Video: Selecting a Benefit Request TypeEnglish  Español
Video: Uploading EvidenceEnglish  Español
Video: E-Signing a Benefit RequestEnglish  Español



Place USCIS ELIS widgets on your website to help direct others to for complete details on a variety of topics. Get them here.

Marketing Materials and Other Resources

Items to get you started or fill in empty spaces. You’ll find print public service advertisements (PSAs), posters and more.


Want to get the latest USCIS ELIS news straight to your inbox? Sign up to receive GovDelivery alerts for notifications when new information is added.

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E-Filing Steps for Representatives


U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is moving from a paper-based model to a secure, online benefits processing environment. On May 22, 2012, USCIS launched the foundational release of our new system, the USCIS Electronic Immigration System (USCIS ELIS). This guide provides helpful information for attorneys and accredited representatives regarding new features of USCIS ELIS as of January 2013. To learn more about USCIS ELIS visit our Web site at or send us an email at

Representative e-Filing Steps

  • A case passcode is displayed after you enter the required information and e-sign a benefit request.
  • Provide that case passcode to your client/applicant. (Note: the passcode should be securely handled because it allows access to case information.)
  • Your client/applicant must log into his/her USCIS ELIS account and enter the case passcode when prompted.
  • Your client/applicant verifies the information on the case snapshot and selects “Begin E-Signature Process” or “Decline E-Signature.”
  • If your client/applicant completes the e-signature process, you will receive a notice stating the benefit request is complete and is ready for payment.
Case Passcode Screen


Submission & E-Sign Screen
  • Log into your USCIS ELIS representative account and select the relevant case to begin the payment process. Your will then submit the benefit request.
  • If the applicant has declined to e-sign, you will receive a notice that the e-signature was declined.
  • Because your client/applicant cannot make changes directly in their benefit request, as the representative, you must make updates as needed. A new case passcode is not generated if the applicant’s email address remains unchanged.


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USCIS ELIS Information for Attorneys and Accredited Representatives

If you wish to appear as an attorney or accredited representative (“representative”) before USCIS for an applicant who has already filed his/her benefit request in USCIS ELIS, you must take the following steps:

  • Create an online account in USCIS ELIS if you currently do not have a USCIS ELIS online account;
  • Complete a Form G-28, Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative; and
  • Write your USCIS ELIS online account number across the top of the Form G-28.

 NOTE: USCIS cannot link your client’s case to your USCIS ELIS account and update the account to reflect that you are authorized to represent your client before USCIS and/or the Board of Immigration Appeals unless you write your USCIS ELIS representative online account number on the G-28.

  • Form G-28 can be submitted in one of two ways:
    1. Your client scans and uploads the completed G-28 into USCIS ELIS to accompany his or her benefit request.  Your client can upload the G-28 in USCIS ELIS by selecting View/Submit Additional Documents for Consideration from the View My Cases screen.  
    2. You mail the completed G-28 to:
      Vermont Service Center
      75 Lower Welden Street
      St Albans, VT 05479


    Cases with Non-U.S. Mailing Addresses

    Applicants, who select electronic notification, will receive an e-mail or text message to view his or her account for updates. USCIS will only mail proof of benefit documents (for example, updated I-94, Arrival-Departure Records; I-765, Employment Authorization Document) to a physical mailing address within the United States.

    Creating a Permanent Representative Account

    Complying with federal privacy regulations, a USCIS ELIS account will be deleted if the account holder (applicant) has not submitted a benefit request within 30 days of account creation. Representatives who do not submit a benefit request on behalf of their clients within 30 days of account creation will be required to complete the account set-up process again and e-sign an attestation verifying the accuracy of his or her USCIS ELIS online account information and profile. After e-signing, USCIS will provide the representative with a USCIS ELIS online account number and create a permanent representative account. 

    Uploading Documents

    To respond to a Request for Evidence (RFE) or a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID), log into your USCIS ELIS account and go to View My Cases. Select the specific case and select Go. You will be taken to a page where you can click on a link to View/Respond to Request for Evidence (RFE) orView Respond to Notice of Intent to Deny.

    To submit additional evidence to support your client’s case, log into your USCIS ELIS account and go to View My Cases. Select the specific case and select Go. You will be directed to a page where you can click on a link to View/Submit Additional Documents for Consideration.


    New e-Filing Capabilities for Representatives – Starting January 14, 2013

    Beginning January 14, 2013, you will no longer be required to collect a physical signature on the paper application and scan and upload the signature page to USCIS ELIS. You can electronically interact with your clients by providing the applicant with access to his or her case for review and electronic signature.  For more details, see e-Filing Steps for Representatives

    Draft Benefit Requests

    If you have prepared a draft benefit request for your client but have not been submitted it to USCIS, you will still be able to access the draft on or after January 14, 2013.  When accessing the draft, you will be directed to the About You section to begin editing or updating the benefit request before final submission to USCIS.

    NOTE: Your client will be required to verify case information in USCIS ELIS and begin or decline the e-signing process before the benefit request can be formally submitted to USCIS. 

    Controlled Access to USCIS ELIS Online Account

    Your clients cannot make changes to, or pay for, a benefit request you draft. However, you can edit the benefit request on their behalf and then provide your clients with access to the revised benefit request for their review and e-signature. You can submit fee payments on behalf of your clients in USCIS ELIS.

    If you have additional questions, please send an email to


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    Designated School Official (DSO) Toolkit

    The DSO Toolkit provides information and resources to assist foreign students in e-Filing with USCIS ELIS.

    Please sign up to receive GovDelivery alerts for notifications when new information is added.

    DSO Support Materials: USCIS guidance documents that can help DSOs when serving students and encouraging user adoption.

    Share Your USCIS ELIS Feedback

    DSO Efficient Practices: Lessons learned from other DSOs who have used USCIS ELIS.

    Listed below are some efficient practices provided by DSOs to assists students e-filing with USCIS ELIS. To submit your own efficient practices for using USCIS ELIS, click the button above or email USCIS at

    Efficient Practices 
    • Collect and scan all supporting documents before starting the application process
    • Save a PDF copy of the completed application before submitting the case to USCIS ELIS
    • Email the PDF copy of the completed application to the DSO to review before submitting the application

     Filing Assistance:

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    Today vs Tomorrow - NEW Alternative Version

    USCIS ELIS will change the way in which applicants and legal representatives apply for and manage immigration benefit requests. This new online system, allows customers to apply for benefits using an online set-up assistant that will take them through the application process step-by-step. Customers and their legal representatives will also be able to manage applications using an online account.

    How USCIS ELIS Will Improve the User Experience

    Current System USCIS ELIS
    How do I submit an application?
    • Most benefit requests, including all supporting evidence, are submitted on paper
    • Reviewing instructions on how to complete and submit an application can be time consuming
    • Applicants and legal representatives establish a relationship by completing and signing a paper G-28 form
    • Applicants and their legal representatives submit payment by mail with their paper applications
    • Applications and supporting evidence can be submitted electronically and stored securely in the system for future access
    • A user-friendly, online set-up assistant takes customers through the application process step-by-step
    • Applicants and legal representatives can establish a relationship electronically
    • Applicants and their legal representatives submit payments electronically using credit/debit cards or bank accounts
    What happens after I submit an application?
    • Some customers can access case status online, but limited - and sometimes outdated - information is provided
    • Customers can submit a “change of address” online, but sometimes must also submit a paper request. USCIS must act upon these requests
    • Applicants and attorneys/accredited representatives receive paper notices by mail
    • Customers filing in the new system will be able to receive more detailed case status information online
    • In addition to online change of address, more online self-service capabilities will be available to customers, including appointment rescheduling and notices
    • Applicants and attorneys/accredited representatives may elect to receive notifications and messages electronically so that they are more timely
    How do I submit additional applications?
    • An application and all evidence is submitted by completing a paper form
    • Applicants and attorneys/accredited representatives provide biographic information and evidence that may have been provided with previous applications
    • Applicants and attorneys/accredited representatives can log into their electronic immigration accounts to submit new applications
    • Some customer biographic information and evidence can be provided once and used for most future filings. This information can also be updated as needed.

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    Top 10 Tips to e-File in USCIS ELIS

    1. Provide all required evidence. USCIS may deny your request if you don’t provide all of the initial evidence required.
    2. Complete all required fields. Required fields are marked with a red asterisk (*). USCIS may deny your application, or send you a request for evidence, if you do not complete all required fields.
    3. Use allowed characters. Use only letters (A-Z), numbers (0-9), hyphens (-), commas (,) and apostrophes (’). Do not use periods.
    4. Remember the answers to your password reset questions. If you lock yourself out of USCIS ELIS, you will need to answer your password reset questions to unlock your account.
    5. Save your work. The system may time out after 5 minutes of inactivity, and you may lose unsaved entries. If this happens, you will need to log back in to complete your application.
    6. Use compatible Web browser. We recommend that you use Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer version 8.0 or higher.
    7. Keep a copy for your records. Print or save the PDF summary of your application, petition or fee payment.
    8. Assistance. If you need assistance while using USCIS ELIS, click Email Us for Help in the Tips section and complete the form. USCIS will respond to you by phone or email.
    9. Complete account setup before exiting. If you exit USCIS ELIS before you complete your account setup, all of your information will be lost and you will need to start over. If the system validated your email address before you completed your account setup, you must use a different email address to create a new account record.
    10. View decision. You can review a PDF of the final decision on a closed or decided case by selecting the Notices tab.

    Additional help
    Frequently Asked Questions
    Toll-Free Telephone: 1-800-375-5283 or 1-800-767-1833 (TDD).

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