We receive a lot of questions about family and marriage-based immigration cases. Some people do not want to hire an attorney to help them and sometimes this can be a mistake that has lasting consequences. Every case is different. And in our opinion, there is no such thing as an “easy” case when dealing with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you do plan to file your own case, here are some of the most common mistakes we see:
1. Sending incorrect filing fees.
If you do this your application will be rejected. Be careful if you have children under the age of 14, or people over 79, since their filing fees may be different. USCIS has a calculator that can help you to determine the correct filing fees:uscis.gov/feelcalculator
2. Not sending the correct forms of documents such as birth or death certificates and/or marriage or divorce certificates.
USCIS is specific about what form of a birth, death, marriage, and divorce certificates they will accept (by country). If you send the wrong format, or without a translation (if it is not in English), they will send you a request for more evidence. Remember that this includes documents for marriages/divorces that have taken place anywhere in the world, not just the U.S. You can check which documents USCIS accepts via:
3. Failing to change your address with USCIS if you move.
USCIS will send you notices and approvals to the address they have on file for you. If you move after you file your case, and before it is approved, you must change your address as soon as possible. You can submit a change of address for most cases online via:uscis.gov/ar-11
4. Not filling in the full or correct name on the applications.
With the Real ID Act, if your immigration documents do not match your birth certificate and/or passport, you may have problems later with the social security administration, and/or your driver’s license office.
5. Misrepresenting or omitting information because you do not think it is important, or you think it does not look good for your case.
The immigration service forms are comprehensive. If you do not fill in the information as requested, your application may be delayed or denied for incomplete information. Lying to an immigration officer is grounds for denial of an application.
6. Not submitting certified copies of arrest records or court documents.
All immigration applications will go through security checks and will be subject to a fingerprint review. Any and all arrests will be found by the immigration service so not disclosing these issues or providing the necessary documents can lead to delays, or denials.
7. Signing forms electronically, or not at all.
The immigration service requires wet ink signatures, although they will accept a scanned copy of the signature. However, they do not accept electronically produced signatures. And you must also remember to date your forms, or they will be rejected.
8. Failing to appear for your fingerprint appointment.
If you have been scheduled for a fingerprint appointment for your application, and you do not go, your application could be denied for abandonment. If you cannot attend your appointment it is important that you can ask for your appointment to be rescheduled as soon as possible.
9. Failing to submit more requested information when asked to do so.
If you do not correctly respond to these requests, it is likely your application will be denied.
10. Failing to submit an affidavit of support that does not satisfy the minimum income requirement.
If your affidavit of support documentation is insufficient, and you do not have a joint sponsor, your application will be denied. You can look at the poverty guidelines on the immigration website to see what the requirements are based on household size:
If you have questions about your family or marriage-based case, give us a call. We have a lot of experience in helping family reunite and new couples start their lives together with confidence that their immigration applications are filed correctly. Even if you have been married a while but have not started the process, we can help!