Why Mom Was Right About Filing at USCIS Lockboxes—5 Tips

Ok, your mother may never have given you tips specifically about filing at USCIS lockbox facilities. But guidance that mothers do often give to their school-aged children is applicable when filing at a USCIS lockbox facility. Perhaps your mom told you that small, visual, surface-level things matter; or, maybe she just said brush your teeth, comb your hair, and wipe the rainbow sherbet off your right cheek.

Well, when filing immigration packages at USCIS lockbox facilities, small, surface-level things also matter—and these small attributes can have a large impact on your immigration case.

Not following the best practices when filing may amount to a “Forward Retreat,” the title of this Mark Tansey painting.

Alas, there are many very actionable, concrete, non-subjective practical tips to remember when filing with one of USCIS’ lockbox facilities. There are way too many cover here, so we will go over only a few.

Find an immigration law firm that has institutionalized the best practices regarding lockbox filing and then relax. Also, remember that the lockbox forwards the filings it receives to Service Centers or to the National Benefits Center, so the  best practices related to those offices should be reviewed and followed unless they conflict with lockbox-filing best practices.

Tip #1:

Make sure the filing can be scanned. The lockbox feeds the documents through a scanner, so paper size should be uniform and staples should not be used.

Tip #2:

Do not highlight text. When text is highlighted, the lockbox scanners cannot recognize the text. To draw the adjudicator’s attention to particular information, you should use a separate piece of paper.

Tip #3:

In adjustment of status cases, indicate in bold on the cover letter that an “A-number” has not been issued to the applicant (if applicable). The lockbox has erroneously rejected Form I-485’s where the applicant’s A-number was not included or the A-number was listed as “none.”

Tip #4:

Do not use binders or tabs. The lockbox will remove and discard any item that prevents scanning, such as binders and tabs that extend beyond the normal paper size. For exhibit tabs, lockbox officials suggest including regular paper with “Exhibit A,” “Exhibit B,” “Exhibit C,” and so on.

Tip #5:

Only select one reason for filing or basis for eligibility. The lockbox staff may not accept filings that list more than one reason for filing or basis for eligibility (e.g., an I-765 with both “Replacement” and “Renewal” checked). Where there is ambiguity, the lockbox worker cannot guess.

There are over a dozen actionable, concrete, non-subjective, practical tips to consider when submitting a filing to a lockbox facility. And you should remember the best practices of the office the lockbox facility will forward your package to.

It may seem like there is a lot to consider or remember. But consider and remember these things you should!

After all, if you need to draw the adjudicator’s attention to some aspect of your case and you use a highlighter to do so, well … you’ve hurt yourself. While you may think you’re moving forward, you’re engaged in a forward retreat.