Immigration Forms: Everything You Need to Know
Immigration forms allow residents of other countries to apply to immigrate legally to the United States for work and/or permanent residence.10 min read
2. Why are Immigration Forms Important?
3. Reasons to Consider Not Using Immigration Forms
4. Reasons to Consider Using Immigration Forms
5. What Could Happen When You Complete Immigration Forms?
6. What Could Happen When You Don't Complete Immigration Forms?
7. Frequently Asked Question
8. Steps to File
What are Immigration Forms?
Immigration forms allow residents of other countries to apply to immigrate legally to the United States for work and/or permanent residence. There are hundreds of different forms available to applicants, so understanding which forms are for which circumstances can get confusing. All forms are available for free through the offices or websites of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the U.S. State Department. Applicants can also obtain forms at overseas consulates, download them from the site of the relevant U.S. government agency, or call 800-870-3676.
Applicants who plan to visit the local USCIS office should plan ahead. These offices often have long lines, so USCIS has established an "InfoPass" program that allows visitors to make appointments before going to the office. Some offices will take walk-ins, but this is unlikely. When scheduling an appointment, make sure to use a computer connected to a printer because USCIS also requires a printout of the notice. With the printed notice, applicants should bring photo ID and any paperwork associated with immigration.
Before filling out any forms, applicants should always make sure that they're using the most current versions. Immigration authorities revise and update the forms regularly. Submitting an outdated version of a form could cause a delay or rejection of your application.
Some immigration forms take a while to fill out. Applicants might start with the correct version, but it becomes outdated by the time they have the documentation put together and ready to submit. Prior to submission, those filing applications should double-check the most current version of the form to avoid delays.
Immigration fees also change often. Failing to include the required fee will typically result in USCSIS returning the application. Before submitting a form with a filing fee, an applicant must visit www.uscis.gov/forms to view the complete fee table. Another option to get the fee table is to call the USCIS information line at 800-375-5283. Consular filing fees are listed on the State Department website under "Fees for Visa Services" page, or available by calling the office at 202-663-1225.
Fees for immigration forms can be paid in U.S. dollars or the applicant's local currency at the current exchange rate.
The most common immigration forms include:
- I-90: Renewal/Replacement of a green card
- I-102: Replace arrival departure record I-94
I-129F: Petition for alien fiancé(e)
- A current U.S. citizen must file this form on behalf of his/her alien fiancé(e). To meet the requirements for legal citizenship in the future, the marriage must take place within 90 days of the fiancé(e)'s arrival in the U.S. The conditions also allow the fiancé(e)'s children to come to the U.S.
- This form also applies to U.S. citizens who are legally married to aliens.
I-130: Petition for alien relative
- A permanent resident or U.S. citizen would file this form to sponsor a relative to become a permanent resident as well.
I-131: Application for a travel document
- If an alien does not have permanent resident status, it is often more difficult for him/her to travel and return to the U.S. This form allows refugees and asylees to apply for permission to travel outside the U.S. A lawful permanent resident who needs to travel abroad for a year or more may also need to file this form to return to the U.S.
I-140: Petition for alien worker
- An employer wishing to bring an alien worker to the U.S. can file this form on behalf of the individual
I-485: Application to register for permanent residence (or adjust current status)
- This form is for who entered the country on an immigrant visa and want to obtain permanent residence.
I-526: Application by an alien entrepreneur
- A business owner or entrepreneur who plans to immigrate to the U.S. would use this form.
- I-539: Extend or change non-immigrant status
I-751: Application to remove the residence conditions
- If an individual received a conditional permanent resident card, such as through marriage, he or she would file this form to remove the conditions and become a permanent resident.
I-765: Application for employment authorization
- Someone who wants to work legally in the U.S. must have an employment authorization document (EAD) card. This form is typically for those who don't necessarily plan to relocate to the U.S. permanently. If someone obtaining an EAD card does want to relocate permanently, he or she will have to fill out a separate form.
I-821: Application for temporary protected status
- Individuals born in certain countries can qualify for temporary protected status.
I-821D: Application for deferred action
- This status protects those entering the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA program). Eligible individuals must:
- Have come to the U.S. prior to turning 16 years old
- Be under 31 years of age as of June 15, 2012 (when the program went into effect)
- Have lived in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 until the present time
- Be physically present in the U.S. when filing the form
- Have no lawful status on June 15, 2012
- Not have been convicted of a significant misdemeanor, a felony, three or more misdemeanors, or pose a threat to national security
- Have a GED or high school diploma (or be enrolled), or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard of the United States
- This status protects those entering the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA program). Eligible individuals must:
- I-824: Request for duplicate approval notice
- N-400: Application for U.S. citizenship
- N-565: Replacement of certificate of naturalization or citizenship
N-600: Application for certificate of citizenship
- This form allows people to become U.S. citizens if they were born in another country to parents who are U.S. citizens
- AR-11: Change of address form
Other forms include:
- Form G-14: Information Form
- Form G-28: Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative
- Form G-325: Biographic Information (including supplements A, B and C)
- Form G-639: Freedom of Information/Privacy Act Request
- Form G-731C: Inquiry About Status of I-551 Alien Registration Card - California Service Center
- Form G-731N: Inquiry About Status of I-551 Alien Registration Card - Nebraska Service Center
- Form G-731T: Inquiry About Status of I-551 Alien Registration Card - Texas Service Center
- Form G-731V: Inquiry About Status of I-551 Alien Registration Card - Vermont Service Center
- Form G-845: Verification Request
- Form G-884: Return of Original Documents
- Form I-9: Employment Eligibility Verification (also available in Spanish)
- Form I-129: Petition for A Nonimmigrant Worker
- Form I-129S: Nonimmigrant Petition Based on Blanket L Petition
- Form I-134: Affidavit of Support
- Form I-191: Application for Permission to Return to an Unrelinquished Domicile
- Form I-192: Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant
- Form I-193: Application for Waiver of Passport and/or Visa
- Form I-212: Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission After Deportation or Removal
- Form I-246: Application for Stay of Deportation or Removal
- Form I-352: Immigration Bond
- Form I-360: Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- Form I-361: Affidavit of Financial Support and Intent to Petition for Legal Custody
- Form I-508: Waiver of Rights, Privileges, Exemptions and Immunities (Under Sec. 247(b) of the INA)
- Form I-589: Application for Asylum
- Form I-600: Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
- Form I-600A: Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition
- Form I-601: Application for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability
- Form I-602: Application By Refugee For Waiver of Grounds of Excludability
- Form I-612: Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement
- Form I-643: Health and Human Services Statistical Data for Refugee/Asylee Adjusting Status
- Form I-687: Application for Status as a Temporary Resident Under Section 245A
- Form I-690: Application for Waiver of Excludability
- Form I-693: Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status
- Form I-694: Notice of Appeal of Decision
- Form I-698: Application to Adjust Status From Temporary to Permanent Resident
- Form I-730: Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- Form I-817: Application for Family Unity Benefits
- Form I-829: Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions
- Form I-864: Affidavit of Support
- Form I-864A: Affidavit of Support Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member
- Form I-864EZ: Affidavit of Support
- Form I-864P: Poverty Guidelines
- Form I-864W: Intending Immigrant's Affidavit of Support Exemption
- Form I-865: Sponsor's Notice of Change of Address
- Form I-876: Election Form to Participate in Employment Eligibility Confirmation Pilot Programs
- Form I-881: NACARA - Suspension of Deportation or Application for Special Cancellation of Removal
- Form I-905: Application for Authorization to Issue Certification for Health Care Workers
- Form I-907: Request for Premium Processing Service
- Form I-914: Application for T Nonimmigrant Status
- Form I-918: Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status
- Form N-4: Monthly Report Naturalization Papers
- Form N-300: Application to File Declaration of Intention
- Form N-336: Request for Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings Under Section 336
- Form N-426: Request for Certification of Military or Naval Service
- Form N-470: Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes
- Form N-644: Application for Posthumous Citizenship
- Form N-648: Medical Certification for Disability Exceptions
Non-USCIS Forms (Visa Forms from the Department of State)
- Form DS-117: Application to Determine Returning Resident Status
- Form DS-156: Nonimmigrant Visa Application (available in ENGLISH and SPANISH)
- Form DS-156E: Nonimmigrant Treaty Trader/Investor Application Form
- Form DS-156K: Nonimmigrant Fiance(e) Visa Application
- Form DS-157: Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application
- Form DS-158: Contact Information and Work History for Nonimmigrant Visa Applicant
- Form DS-230: Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
- Form DS-3035: J-1 Visa Waiver Review Application
- Form DS-3052: Nonimmigrant V Visa Application
- Form DSP-122: Supplemental Registration for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
Non-USCIS Forms (Passport Forms from the Department of State)
- Form DS-10: Birth Affidavit
- Form DS-11: Application for a U.S. Passport
- Form DS-64: Statement Regarding Lost or Stolen Passport
- Form DS-82: Application for U.S. Passport by Mail
- Form DS-86: Statement of Nonreceipt of Passport
- Form DS-5504: U.S. Passport Re-Application
Why are Immigration Forms Important?
Because there are so many different immigration forms, it's easy to get confused about which form(s) to use in different situations. Those seeking to work and/or live in the U.S. permanently would benefit from using an attorney who understands the forms and requirements. Lawyers can help applicants understand confusing legal jargon used on the forms.
Filling out the wrong form or even filling the right form out incorrectly can lead to lengthy delays. Doing so may also require payment of multiple filing fees. The immigration process can already take a long time, so those involved won't want to extend it any more than necessary or make it more expensive.
Approval of immigration forms can take anywhere from a few months to several years. The USCIS has restrictions on how many of each specific type of visa can be issued in a year. There are also restrictions around how many visas are granted to people in a specific country.
Reasons to Consider Not Using Immigration Forms
Those who don't use immigration forms will not be able to work and/or live in the United States legally. Even those with applications in pending status cannot start working or move to the U.S. without putting themselves at risk for legal action or deportation.
Legal residents do not need to fill out immigration forms unless they need to extend or modify the terms of their residency, change their addresses, or make other modifications. Those traveling to the U.S. for vacation do not need to fill out immigration forms either, as long as they will return to their home countries within a short time.
Reasons to Consider Using Immigration Forms
Anyone who is from another country and wishes to work and/or live in the United States on a permanent basis will need to fill out the appropriate immigration form(s). Upon approval of the application, the alien can move to the United States and begin working immediately (if the visa/immigration status allows him or her to work).
What Could Happen When You Complete Immigration Forms?
Immigration forms require a lot of careful work and preparation. If an alien completes the forms properly and qualifies for immigration, he or she will be able to legally relocate to the United States and begin working in the country. The process might require a medical examination conducted by a physician at the U.S. Consulate Office or Embassy in the alien's country of residence. The applicant might also have to provide legal documents that show his or her criminal background, fingerprints, and other information.
What Could Happen When You Don't Complete Immigration Forms?
If an alien doesn't complete the necessary immigration forms, he or she will not have legal authorization to live or work in the U.S. This leaves two options: live in the U.S. illegally or remain in the country of residence. Staying in the U.S. illegally could put the individual at risk for deportation and other legal troubles.
Completing the forms incorrectly will likely result in the documents being returned to the applicant. In some cases, incorrect forms could permanently disqualify the applicant from being considered for immigration in the future.
Frequently Asked Question
- What immigration form(s) do I fill out to become a legal citizen of the United States?
The form(s) required to become a legal U.S. citizen vary depending on the country of residence, family status (if any immediate family members are citizens or legal residents), and whether the applicant has any other legal rights in the country, such as the right to work. But the most commonly used form is I-485, which will grant the recipient a green card, or authorization to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis.
Relatives of U.S. citizens will use form I-130, while fiancé(e)s of U.S. residents must use form I-129F. Employers seeking permanent residency for an alien employee would file form I-40.
The process of obtaining legal citizenship also includes taking an oath of allegiance to the United States.
Steps to File
The steps to file immigration forms depend on the actual form being filed, but every form requires completion of all necessary components. Applicants must also compile and provide all required documentation to the USCIS, then pay the required fee(s).
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