If you plan to submit an application for any type of immigration benefit – for example, a visa, green card (lawful permanent residence), or U.S. citizenship, you will no doubt have to fill out some paperwork, including official U.S. government forms, in order to so do.
In some cases, you will receive the relevant forms after you make contact with the appropriate U.S. government agency – most likely U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the Department of State (DOS). However, in some cases you must obtain the form on your own and fill it out in order to begin or continue an application process. So, it’s important to know the right source for these forms.
Below, we list the online locations where you can obtain the forms you need.
A final note of caution: The U.S. government revises its forms frequently. After a revision, it may or may not accept older versions of the form. Therefore, after you have downloaded an immigration form and filled it out, you should, as a last step before sending it in, double check the website to see whether a more recent one has been issued, and if so, whether the form you filled out will still be accepted. This is an especially important step if several weeks have passed between your downloading the form and getting your application package completely ready to submit.
If you are either filing a petition to sponsor a family member or employee for immigration; or you are an immigrant (or a so-called “nonimmigrant,” who has a temporary visa), and you are already in the U.S. and legally eligible to file to extend, adjust, or change your status; or you are in the U.S. and wish to apply for asylum, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), or another benefit offered to immigrants residing in the U.S.; you will need to use forms issued by USCIS.
The USCIS website (www.uscis.gov) has a page called “Forms,” which lists all of the forms it uses or accepts, in letter/number order. By clicking through the various links, you can either download and print the form and instructions you need, or in some cases, fill out the form online and print it for submission, or actually submit it online.
Note also the column on the Forms table called “Fees.” Although the forms are free for download, you must, in many cases, include a filing fee when you actually submit the form. This fee is not refundable.
If you are applying for a nonimmigrant (temporary) visa to travel or work for a short time in the U.S., or are the beneficiary of a petition filed for you by a U.S.-based family member or employer, you will need to use some forms issued by the Department of State (DOS).
However, you will probably be dealing with a U.S. consulate in your home country, so the first place you should look for any forms that aren’t provided to you is on the website of that particular consulate. It may, for example, provide special versions of the DOS forms that use the same language as is spoken in your country. To find the website of your consulate, go to USEmbassy.gov.
If you simply want the standard version of a State Department form, go to the “Visa Application Forms” page of its website.
If you have been arrested by the immigration authorities or your immigration case has been transferred to the immigration court system for removal proceedings, you will need to use some forms issued by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ)’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, or EOIR. You can obtain these forms on the “List of Downloadable EOIR Forms” page of the DOJ website.
Immigration Court proceedings should not be handled on your own, however. You would be best advised to hire an experienced immigration attorney, who can help you fill out these forms.
One of the benefits to hiring an immigration attorney is that they usually have software programs that can easily prepare all the forms for you. (As you’ll soon see when you start downloading forms, many of them are lengthy, and require additional forms to be submitted along with them to fill out the package.)
The attorney will also know exactly what each question is aimed at finding out, and how to avoid making mistakes that can jeopardize the success of your application.