Copies (Instead of Original Signatures) Permanently Permitted by USCIS
by Jennifer Grady, Esq.
On July 25, 2022, USCIS announced that it will continue accepting copies of original signatures on all forms and documents as a permanent policy. This makes permanent the temporary signature policy that USCIS announced in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means that petitioners and beneficiaries can submit a scanned, faxed, photocopied, or similarly reproduced copy of a document to USCIS, as long as the copy is of an original document containing an original handwritten signature. You must keep the original document with the wet signature and provide it to USCIS if requested.
This exception only applies to signatures, and you still must follow all other form instructions when completing a form. This policy includes all benefit forms and documents, even if the form instructions require an original handwritten (“wet”) signature.
What started this change?
In March of 2020, in response to the pandemic and the limitations accompanying the shutdown, USCIS instated a temporary policy accepting reproduced original signatures, opening doors to scanned, faxed, photocopied, and similarly reproduced documents in place of an original document bearing the original signature. Additionally, the policy required that USCIS accept electronically reproduced signatures in place of “wet” signatures for the duration of the National Emergency.
Thanks to persistent requests by stakeholders throughout the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman, the temporary copied signature policy became permanent protocol for future immigration petitions due to criticism that requiring original “wet” signatures was inefficient and costly.
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