Immigration applicants sometimes ask us to help them retrieve personal documents submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as part of their application. Although submitting these is unnecessary in many cases, some applicants may do so without realizing they can submit a copy, an easier option.
They can also file Form G-884 to request the return of their documents. If you have questions or concerns about the immigration application process, New Frontier Immigration Law can help with petitions, appeals, removal defense, and more. We understand you are seeking a life of safety, family, fair employment, and an opportunity to thrive. You can reach out to us today for a strategic session.
How Can I Get My Original Documents Returned?
Besides a few exceptions, USCIS does not automatically return original documents. This is true regardless of the case’s outcome. In fact, USCIS does not typically require applicants to submit original documents that support a petition or application. Unless a form’s instructions say you must submit an original document, or the USCIS requests one after you apply, it will accept a copy in place of an original.
Filing Form G-884 Request for the Return of Original Documents
Applicants can use Form G-884 Request for the Return of Original Documents to ask the USCIS to return previously filed applications and original documents. This includes passports, birth certificates, and marriage records, among other items. You must submit this form to the USCIS district, office, or service center handling your case if it is still pending.
If you receive a determination, you should submit this form to the USCIS office or service center that completed your case’s last task. You do not need to pay a filing fee for this form. You must sign Form G-884 in the presence of a notary if you do not personally appear before a USCIS official. USCIS allows you to check your case’s status online and locate an office.
According to Form G-884, processing times vary depending on each case’s circumstances. Incomplete forms may be rejected, and the USCIS may deny your request.
Tips for Managing Your Immigration Documents
The following tips may help you maintain your immigration-related paperwork and ensure you have written, documented evidence if you need it:
1. Organize all your immigration applications, supporting documents, and vital records and keep them safe
Over time, it’s easy to misplace these items if you do not properly file and stow them in a secure location. Doing this is much easier than searching exhaustively for a specific document or letter you sent or received years ago.
You should also remember to copy everything you give or send to the USCIS. Many government agencies routinely shred old documents and records. If you don’t keep a copy, you might not have access to the information or proof you need later. It cannot be stressed enough: Make copies of your entire application and all supporting evidence. Keep them in case something goes wrong or you later decide to apply for another immigration-related benefit.
2. Do Not file or submit anything to USCIS by regular U.S. mail
Instead, use certified mail or send your package by overnight delivery so you can track your package and confirm its delivery. If you send it by standard mail, you will not know if it was delivered or if it arrived on time unless the USCIS sends you a confirmation.
3. Get a copy of your criminal record and include it in your immigration documentation
The USCIS might look at your criminal record when reviewing your application. Therefore, you should know what is on this record, including any crimes you may have committed, even if they are minor traffic violations. You can request a copy of your Identity History Summary directly from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Also, if you have a criminal record, our immigration lawyer can review it before you submit your application. We can instruct you on how best to answer application questions and what to do if USCIS asks you about your offenses.
4. Remember to translate foreign language documents
According to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (eCFR) on Aliens and Nationality, all documents submitted to the USCIS that contain a foreign language must come with a full English-language translation. Also, the translator must certify the translation as complete and accurate and confirm they are competent to translate the foreign language into English.
The certification must include the date and the translator’s signature and address. When you make copies for yourself, do so for all the documents, including the original, the English translation, and the translator’s certification.
5. Strongly consider retaining an immigration attorney to handle your USCIS case
Understandably, many people want to save money, so they will attempt to file their immigration-related applications and petitions independently. USCIS provides guidelines and lists of specific documents to submit. Still, in many instances, applicants need more documents and supporting evidence to establish an applicant’s eligibility for the immigration-related outcome they seek.
For example, substantial proof is sometimes needed to show that a marriage is a legitimate (not fraudulent) relationship. A wedded couple may need to provide concrete evidence of the time spent together, such as during vacations or visiting with family. Additional evidence may also establish parenthood in cases where co-parents are not married.
If you plan to file a USCIS application without legal help, you should consider the many circumstances that can arise. Although we cannot absolutely guarantee a favorable outcome, our involvement in the process could help your case. We can ensure properly package and present your application and case materials to USCIS according to its instructions. We can also ensure you meet its deadlines, guidelines, and other criteria.
Consult With Our Immigration Lawyer Today About Form G-884
At New Frontier Immigration Law, we want to help you obtain the freedom you deserve. If you have questions about our services or would like help with immigration-related concerns, please contact us as soon as possible for a strategic session.