A lot of immigration cases experience significant delay or worse, rejection — simply because something went wrong in the process. Often, these mistakes can be avoided by just being proactive. To help applicants ensure their case is accepted and received by USCIS, here are some best practices to observe.

1. Make Sure Forms are Properly Signed

For immigration forms to be valid, they must be properly signed by the applicant. The immigration service requires that forms be signed with a wet ink signature. They do not allow electronic signatures.

Scanned signatures are admissible, but the scanned copy must be clear and readable.

2.  Check the Filing Address

The second best practice is to make sure that the filing address is correct. Immigration has the tendency to change the filing address without prior notice, which is why applicants should not rely on the address they learned about several years, months, or even weeks prior. It’s important to always check the address right before mailing a case.

3. Make a Full Copy of the Case

Before sending the case to USCIS, it’s a good idea for applicants to make a full copy or scan of it to keep in their records. The immigration mail room isn’t perfect, and there’s a high chance a piece of paperwork can get lost during the process of receiving the case. With a full copy of the case in file, applicants will be able to prove what documents they sent over.

4. Track the Package Sent to Immigration

All mail sent to the USCIS should be trackable so applicants know exactly where their package is and when it is received by the immigration mail room. When time is not the issue, priority mail is a good option. But if the applicant is mailing their case close to the deadline, UPS or FedEx trackable mail service is recommended.

5. Pay With Checks

When paying the filing fees, there is a preferred order of payment methods. Check payments are the best way to settle filing fees, followed by money orders.

At this time, it’s best to avoid paying with credit card forms. That’s because there are many ways a credit card form payment can be denied, including insufficient funds, the credit card company falsely assuming that the transaction is fraudulent, or mistaken details in the form.

There’s a higher risk of payment rejections when using credit card forms. So, when possible, opt for a check payment. When working with an immigration lawyer, they can also offer to pay using their IOLTA accounts, which is a trust account where they hold their clients’ funds and issue checks to send to immigration.

6. Send Immigration Everything

In immigration law, there’s something called a skeleton case, which is a bare-bones minimum case that an applicant can file to get a receipt from the immigration service. While there are lawyers who file skeleton cases, it’s not the best practice.

A skeleton case has hardly any documents and evidence, which pretty much guarantees a request for evidence from immigration. And it’s much harder to win a case that requires back and forth with an RFE versus a case that was filed completely from the beginning.

When filing a case with immigration, send them everything. Applicants should not hold back on including all supporting documents in their initial filing to ensure their case is strong from the get-go. That also entails allocating plenty of time to prepare a good case.