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Tip of the Week

My name is Andres Mejer, and I’m an immigration attorney. In today’s tip, we’re going to talk about what evidence USCIS wants when you’re applying for an immigration benefit. We often have people ask us – what should I send in to USCIS with my application? This is a broad question. Each application requires different proof or evidence.

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Types of Evidence to Submit

I always say that you can file your own immigration applications without an attorney. USCIS has a list of suggested documents to include with the application. If you go to their website and search for the form you’re filing, you will see that. As a reminder, never send original documents to USCIS, unless you have one for your own records. Send them a copy and keep the original. If you send a document that is in a language other than English, you must have someone translate that and include a certification about the translation with the document. 

When we submit a file for our clients, we have sent in packets that include 700 – 900 pages of evidence. So to make this short and simple this is what I can tell you:

If USCIS says “you must submit this,” you must submit it. If it’s a document that is impossible to obtain, then you should include an explanation as to why that is. 

You must submit any evidence that:

  1. Proves you are who you say you are, 
  2. That you have the relationship you claim you have, and
  3. That you are admissible to the US. 

Let me give you an example. Say you are trying to get a green card in the US through marriage. However, you were married and divorced someone else outside the US. You need to provide the marriage certificate of the first and second marriages and the divorce documents for the first marriage. Otherwise, the second marriage might not be considered valid by USCIS. 

Other issues that arise with marriage are things like:

  • A marriage performed in a way that is legal in your country but isn’t recognized as a legal marriage in the US;
  • A common law marriage that is no longer together but didn’t result in a divorce decree, or 
  • A mutual consent divorce. This is when you agree in your home country that you are divorced but no formal governmental approved document is available to provide to USCIS. 

Each of these depends on your individual circumstances, so what you should file as proof to USCIS can differ for someone who’s ina different situation. In cases like that, I highly recommend that you speak to an immigration attorney to discuss strategy before filing anything.  Many attorneys will offer consultations (as our office does) to help with individual issues.

Other Considerations

Just because you can file your case without an attorney, doesn’t mean you should. Each case is unique. Doing it yourself may be cheaper if everything works.  If you make a mistake it can delay your case or result in a denial and you being placed in removal. Don’t let that happen to you. Get a thorough analysis of your situation first.  

To sum this up, send the documents that prove who you say you are and that support why you should be granted the immigration benefit you want. If you have other questions or concerns, contact our office to talk to an experienced immigration attorney.