Signing the documents for the application of any immigration benefit, including the 'green card' and citizenship, is now easier for immigrants, after the decision of the office of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to make permanent a policy initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In March 2020, given the mandatory quarantines and social distance, USCIS allowed immigrants to send documents with a copy of their signature, that is, it was not essential to have signed the paper directly.
Now that policy is permanent, according to agency modifications confirmed on July 25 and highlighted on August 3 by the USCIS Ombudsman's office, as well as the National Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).
“On July 25, 2022, USCIS announced that it will continue to accept copies of original signatures on all forms and documents,” the Ombudsman's office recalled of the decision. “This makes permanent the temporary signature policy that USCIS announced in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
There are other policies under evaluation to make them permanent, but for now there have been some extensions on responding to requests for more information in certain cases.
There are various instructions on forms and other documents that specify that the signature must be “wet.” Even in those cases the copy will be accepted.
“USCIS will accept copies of original signatures on all benefit forms and documents, even if the form instructions require an original handwritten (“wet”) signature.
Now, that doesn't mean that later USCIS doesn't ask for the originally signed documents, not the copies, so they should be saved for that.
“This means that [the immigrant] can send a scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced copy of a document to USCIS, as long as the copy is an original document that contains an original handwritten signature,” specifies the office of the Advocate. “He must keep the original document with the wet signature and deliver it to USCIS if requested.”
The Ombudsman's Office reminds interested parties with any type of process open before USCIS that this policy applies only to the signature, so the other instructions of the corresponding form must be completed and followed to the letter.
It is added that this decision was reached after evaluations and meetings between the parties interested in improving the processes.
“The USCIS policy change will make it easier to prepare immigration applications,” says the Ombudsman's Office.
Remember that you must sign all the documents as indicated in the instructions, since without it the process could be complicated, even be suspended.