When you are submitting your petition or applications to USCIS it is important to know what needs to be translated and what needs to sent in as an original document. The translations part is easy. Any document not in English must have a translation with certification with it. Translations do not have to be notarized, but they do need a certification by the translator.
When to send originals is a little more complicated, but it is important. If you do not send in the required originals, you will get a request for evidence which will slow down your application or petition. Sending originals that are not needed are difficult to have returned and may be needed in the future.
Submission of Supporting Documents – Original vs. Photocopy – If a supporting document is prepared solely for the purpose of presentation to USCIS, an applicant or petitioner must submit the original document with the application or petition. Examples of supporting documents which must be presented in the original are:
- Form I-20 issued by a Designated School Official to a foreign student
- Form DS-2019 issued by a Program Officer to an Exchange Visitor
- Labor Certification issued by the Department of Labor
- Labor Condition Agreement with the Department of Labor endorsement
- Form I-693 Medical Examination issued by a authorized civil surgeon
- Vaccination Sign-off Supplement to Medical Examination Certificate
- Attestations, formal consultations and advisory opinions (e.g., a letter from a recognized expert attesting to someone’s extraordinary professional skills)
- Affidavits prepared in place of unavailable documents (e.g., an affidavit in place of a birth certificate where the official records were destroyed by fire)
- Translations of documents (even when the rules allow submission of a photocopy of the document itself.)
NOTE: If the applicant or petitioner has already submitted the original document to the USCIS in connection with another matter, he or she may submit a photocopy along with an explanation of when and why the original was previously sent to the USCIS.
For all other documents, the applicant may submit a photocopy of the document required; however, he or she may be required to present the original:
- in person, upon the request of a USCIS or consular official during an interview, or
- by mail, in response to a written request from USCIS.
How Do I Get Original Documents Back?
Original documents submitted when not required will remain a part of the record. If you decided at a later time that you want your original returned, please file Form G-884 with the office where you submitted the original document(s). The Form G-884 is available for those in the U.S. through Forms by Mail but is not available on USCIS website.