Chapter 6 - Submitting Requests

A. How to Submit

1. Traditional Mail

Benefit requestors may use traditional mail to file benefit requests involving fees with a USCIS Lockbox.[1] Benefit requestors should refer to the form instructions and USCIS website for more information on where and how to submit a particular benefit request, and what initial evidence is expected.[2]

Assembling and Submitting Application Package

USCIS recommends that benefit requesters assemble their benefit request packages in the order indicated for that particular benefit.[3]

Application Intake Inquiries

Requestors who have questions or concerns about the intake of a benefit request should route their inquiries as indicated on the USCIS Contact Us webpage. 

2. Electronic Submission

Some USCIS forms are available for submission online. Filing online allows users to: 

  • Set up and manage accounts;

  • Submit benefit requests and supporting documents electronically;

  • Manage and link paper-filed benefits with an online account;

  • Receive and respond to notices and decisions electronically;

  • Make payments online; and

  • Access real-time information about the status of cases.

Information entered electronically in anticipation of filing online is saved for 30 days from the last time a person worked on the request. USCIS cannot accept the benefit request until the person completes the electronic submission process.

If a benefit requestor files a benefit request online, USCIS notifies the person electronically of any notices or decisions. In general, USCIS does not issue paper notices or decisions for electronically-filed benefit requests. However, an online filer may request that USCIS mail paper notices. USCIS may also, in its discretion, decide to issue a paper notice.[4]

B. Intake Processing

Once USCIS receives a benefit request, USCIS assesses whether the request meets the minimum requirements for USCIS to accept the request. If all minimal requirements (including submission of initial evidence for intake purposes) for acceptance are not met, USCIS rejects the benefit request for improper filing.[5]

USCIS only begins to adjudicate a benefit requests after USCIS accepts the request (and processes required fees).

In order for USCIS to accept a benefit request, a submission must satisfy all applicable acceptance criteria.[6] USCIS generally accepts the request if it contains: 

  • A complete, properly executed form, with a proper signature;

  • The correct fees;[7] and

  • The required initial evidence for intake purposes, as directed by the form instructions.[8]

USCIS rejects benefit requests that do not meet these minimum requirements. Reasons for rejection may include, but are not limited to:

  • Incomplete benefit request;[9]

  • Improper signature or no signature;[10]

  • Use of an outdated version of a USCIS form at time of submission;

  • Principal application error (USCIS cannot process derivative or dependent applications if the related principal application is in error); and

  • Incorrect fee, including missing fees or fees in the wrong amount.[11]

In addition, USCIS rejects benefit requests for an immigrant visa if an immigrant visa is not immediately available to the applicant.[12]

The rejection of a filing with USCIS may not be appealed.[13] However, rejections do not preclude a benefit requestor from resubmitting a corrected benefit request. If the benefit requestor later resubmits a previously rejected, corrected benefit request, USCIS processes the case anew, without prejudice.[14] The rejected case does not retain its original receipt date when resubmitted. 

USCIS requires new fees with any new benefit request; a new filing date also generally applies.[15] 

Effect of Returned Payment

If, subsequent to receipting, a check or other financial instrument submitted for payment is returned as not payable, USCIS re-submits the payment to the remitter institution one time. If the instrument used to pay the fee is returned as non-payable a second time, USCIS rejects the benefit request as improperly filed and the receipt date is forfeited. USCIS assesses a $30 returned check fee and pursues collection using administrative debt collection procedures. A rejection of a filing with USCIS may not be appealed.[16]

Returned Payment for an Underlying Petition

If a dishonored payment rejection occurs on an underlying petition that is accompanied by other filings that are dependent on the filing that is rejected, such as an Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker (Form I-140) concurrently filed with an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485), even though the other filings’ fees may be honored, USCIS administratively closes the dependent filings and refunds the fees. 

Returned Payment for Premium Processing Service Requests

If a premium processing fee for a Request for Premium Processing Service (Form I-907) is dishonored when it is filed at the same time as a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) or Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers (Form I-140), USCIS rejects the entire filing.

If USCIS has approved the petition and any fee, including one fee of a multiple fee filing, is dishonored, USCIS may revoke the approval. In this case, USCIS issues a Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR) to the requestor. If the requestor does not rectify the dishonored payment within the requisite NOIR time period, USCIS revokes the approval and retains (and does not refund) any fee that was honored in association with the approval.

For example, if the Form I-907 fee is dishonored after USCIS approves an associated Form I-140, USCIS revokes the Form I-140 approval (assuming the NOIR time period has passed without sufficient response). USCIS then retains the Form I-140 fee, administratively closes the Form I-485, and refunds the Form I-485 fee.

Response to a NOIR

If the benefit request was approved by USCIS, the approval may be revoked upon notice.[17] If the approved benefit request requires multiple fees, approval may be revoked if any fee submitted is not honored. USCIS may retain (and not refund) other fees that were paid for a benefit request that is revoked because of a dishonored fee payment.

To sufficiently respond to a NOIR, the requestor must demonstrate that the payment was honored or that it was rejected by USCIS by mistake.[18] If USCIS issues a NOIR and the request does not return sufficient evidence to reinstate the case to pending status, then USCIS reopens and denies the request. USCIS then sends a notice to the applicant informing him or her that USCIS has been revoked the approval and denied the benefit request. In contrast with the rejection of a filing, a revocation of an approval due to a dishonored fee may be appealed to the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office.[19] All revocation notices instruct the requestor on how they may appeal the revocation or denial due to a dishonored payment.[20]

If USCIS does not have the authority to revoke or reopen and deny the benefit request, USCIS annotates the file to indicate that USCIS never received payment and notifies the benefit requestor of the payment deficiency. USCIS then notifies the applicant or petitioner that there is a payment deficiency. The officer should also request local counsel assess the applicant’s actions and intentions and assist in determining the appropriate next steps on a per case basis.  

If USCIS already denied or revoked the benefit request for other reasons, or determined that the requestor abandoned the benefit request, the existence of a dishonored payment does not affect that decision. USCIS pursues collection of all payment deficiencies, regardless of the outcome of adjudication.

C. Date of Receipt

USCIS considers a benefit request “received” on the date it is physically or electronically received. This date is also known as the filing date. Requestors may only obtain a date of receipt or filing date if their submission is accepted at the proper location, as designated on the USCIS website. USCIS does not assign a date of receipt or filing date to benefit requests that are rejected.[21]

The date of receipt may impact eligibility for immigration benefits. For example, USCIS uses the date of receipt to determine whether an appeal, Application for Temporary Protected Status (Form I-821), or Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) should be rejected for failure to timely file or because an annual numerical limit has been reached.

The date of receipt may also be significant for purposes of seeking lawful permanent residence; the filing date is referred to as the priority date for an approved immigrant visa petition in certain preference categories.[22] For approved petitions in preference categories that are not current, the priority date dictates how soon the beneficiary may file for permanent residence. Similarly, the filing date establishes the statutory period for various benefits, including naturalization.

Footnotes


[^ 1] Registration for Classification as a Refugee (Form I-590) must be completed with the assistance of the Resettlement Support Center (RSC) staff overseas after a referral to the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP), and cannot be completed independently by a benefit requestor. As such, any information in this section regarding submitting or filing a benefit request does not apply to Form I-590. For more information, see the Refugees USCIS web page.

[^ 2] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(8)(ii). A benefit requestor may need to provide additional evidence to establish eligibility for the benefit sought at the time of an interview or in response to a Request for Evidence (RFE).

[^ 3] For tips on filing applications with USCIS, see General Tips on Assembling Applications for Mailing and Lockbox Facility Filing Tips.  

[^ 4] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(19)(ii)(B).

[^ 5] See 8 CFR 103.2.

[^ 6] See 8 CFR 103.2(a).

[^ 7] See 8 CFR 103.7(a)(1). For information on fee waivers, see Request for Fee Waiver (Form I-912). For information on reduced fees, see Request for Reduced Fee (Form I-942).

[^ 8] For example, family-based or employment-based adjustment of status categories where an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), if required, is submitted with the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (Form I-485).

[^ 9] See 8 CFR 103.2(b)(1). Each benefit request must be properly completed and filed with all initial evidence required by applicable regulations and other USCIS instructions. Benefit requestors can determine which fields are required based on the form type and form instructions.

[^ 10] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(2).

[^ 11] See 8 CFR 103.2(a). See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(1) (for location), 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(i) (for filing fee and signature), and 8 CFR 245.2(a)(2)(i) (available visas).

[^ 12] For more information, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 3, Filing Instructions, Section B, Definition of Properly Filed, Subsection 4, Visa Availability Requirement [7 USCIS-PM A.3(B)(4)].

[^ 13] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(iii).

[^ 14] USCIS treats the benefit request as if the requestor had not previously submitted it.

[^ 15] Some exceptions may apply. For example, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability, Subsection 3, Priority dates [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)(3)]. See 8 CFR 204.2(h).

[^ 16] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(iii).

[^ 17] See 8 CFR 205.2.

[^ 18] Otherwise, USCIS considers the requestor to have failed to file the required fees. See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(1).

[^ 19] In accordance with 8 CFR 103.3 and the applicable form instructions.

[^ 20] See 8 CFR 103.3.

[^ 21] See 8 CFR 103.2(a)(7)(ii).

[^ 22] For more information, see Volume 7, Adjustment of Status, Part A, Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures, Chapter 6, Adjudicative Review, Section C, Verify Visa Availability, Subsection 3, Priority Dates [7 USCIS-PM A.6(C)(3)] and the USCIS’ webpage on Visa Availability and Priority Dates.

Current as of October 20, 2021