Should I File my Application Online?
If you’re starting to research the steps to file your immigration application, you may be wondering, should I file my application online or by mail?
USCIS currently accepts online filing for the following application types:
- AR-11 | Alien’s Change of Address Card
- G-639 | Freedom of Information/Privacy Act and Online FOIA Request
- I-90 | Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
- I-130 | Petition for Alien Relative
- I-539 | Application To Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status
- I-765 | Application for Employment Authorization (Filing under one of these categories):
(c)(3)(A) – Pre-completion OPT;
(c)(3)(B) – Post-completion OPT;
(c)(3)(C) – 24-month extension for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students;
(a)(12) – Temporary Protected Status; or
(c)(19) – Certain pending TPS applicants whom USCIS has determined are prima facie eligible for TPS and who may then receive an EAD as a ”temporary treatment benefit” under 8 C.F.R. 244.10(a).
- I-821| Application for Temporary Protected Status
- N-336 | Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA)
- N-400 | Application for Naturalization
- N-565 | Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document
- N-600 | Application for Certificate of Citizenship
- N-600K | Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322
To file your case online, you’ll need to make an account with MyUSCIS here. Make sure to keep your password and the answers to your security questions in a safe place.
If you choose to file your case by mail, you can find information about where to mail your application on the USCIS webpage for the form you are filing.
There are pros and cons to both approaches, and the right answer for you may ultimately depend on your personal preference.
Generally, filing your case online is recommended because of the ease and speed with which you’ll receive updates about your case. For example, when you file your case, you will receive instant confirmation that your case was received, including your receipt number which will allow you to track updates on your case.
If you file your case via snail mail, it can take up to a month, or sometimes longer, to receive your receipt notice in the mail. That means you could be anxiously wondering if your case got lost in the mail for up to a month until you receive the notice in the mail. The same goes for any and all other updates that you’ll receive from USCIS along the way; if you want to be really on top of your case status and receive instant updates, online filing is the way to go.
Online filing also makes it easier to pay your filing fees with a debit/credit card instead of a check/money order.
Keep in mind though that although the MyUSCIS system has improved a lot in the last few years, there are still frequent tech glitches that can be frustrating to deal with as you work on your application or attempt to view your case status. Common issues include restrictive file size limits, meaning you’ll have to get creative with how you upload copies of your evidence, and slow loading times.
If you choose to file your case online, you can do so by yourself, or you can hire an attorney to prepare your forms online and guide you through the submission process.
You’ll still need to create an online account and “sign” your forms electronically, but if you hire Passage to handle your case, we will take care of all of the leg work.
We have lots of experience with online filing and we are happy to help you file your case online!
If you do not have reliable access to a computer, or you don’t like dealing with online accounts/don’t consider yourself tech savvy, you may want to save yourself the frustration and simply stick with the old-fashioned way of filing by mail. There are no major downsides to this besides experiencing a slightly longer waiting time to receive notices in the mail. If you don’t mind waiting a bit longer for updates on your case, there’s no problem with sticking to snail mail, especially if you have an attorney who will be monitoring your case.
As a final note, USCIS has announced plans to continue expanding their online services in order to improve processing times, so it’s a good idea to get comfortable with using their online platform if you can. We expect their online system to continue to improve as they dedicate more time and resources to this area.