USCIS Makes COVID-19 Signature Policy Permanent – General Immigration


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At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, USCIS announced
several “flexibilities” to facilitate immigration filings
in the face of significant logistical challenges. One of those
flexibilities was a much-needed suspension of the “wet
ink” signature requirement for certain immigration forms.

After sustained success and positive feedback on what was
supposed to be a temporary rule, USCIS announced on July 25, 2022
that the “reproduced signature flexibility” would become
permanent, effective immediately.

While this change is, of course, welcome, USCIS has still
implemented requirements for signatures that should be carefully
considered when seeking immigration benefits.

Who is permitted to sign for an application, petition,
request, or other filed documents?

The person seeking the immigration benefit must sign their own
request before filing it with USCIS, except in limited
circumstances. In providing a signature, the person affirms that
they have authority to sign the document, have knowledge of the
facts being represented in the document, and testify to the truth
of those facts.

For business or government entities, the request must be signed
by an authorized signatory. A person is “authorized” so
long as the legal entity has given that person permission to sign
on the entity’s behalf. Signatories may include the
following:

  • An executive officer with authority to act on behalf of a
    corporation

  • A managing partner or managing member of an LLC or LLP

  • A sole proprietor (Note: a sole proprietor is the only person
    authorized to sign on behalf of the sole proprietorship)

  • An authorized partner of a partnership

  • An attorney employed in an employer-employee relationship by a
    corporation as its legal representative

  • A person employed within the entity’s human resources
    department

  • Any employee who has the authority to legally bind the entity
    to the attestations made and the terms of the specific request

If USCIS questions the authority of a signatory to bind a legal
entity, it may issue a Request for Evidence (“RFE”).

The following are some of the exceptions to the rule that the
person seeking the immigration benefit must provide a
signature:

  • Minors. A parent or legal guardian may sign
    filings benefitting children under age 14. Children 14 or older
    should sign their own petition, application, or request. If a
    parent signs, evidence of the parent-child relationship should be
    included with the form (birth certificate, adoption decree,
    etc.)

  • Persons who are mentally incompetent. Filings
    benefitting those who have been found mentally incompetent may be
    signed by a legal guardian appointed by a proper court or public
    authority. Documentary proof of the guardianship should be provided
    with the filing (official letters of guardianship or order issued
    by a court or agency authorized to do so).

  • Power of Attorney. USCIS only accepts a Power
    of Attorney (“POA”) that is “durable” and in
    the place of an incapacitated adult. No court documents are
    necessary for proof, but the POA should submit a copy of the
    durable POA document and evidence showing that all conditions have
    been met that give the signatory the authority to sign on behalf of
    the incapacitated adult.

What makes a signature valid?

Although USCIS no longer requires original “wet ink”
signatures, electronic signatures are not permitted. If the
original signature page is not provided to USCIS, then the
signature page must be a reproduction of the handwritten “wet
ink” signature unless otherwise specified. USCIS will reject a
signature created by a typewriter, computer word processor, stamp,
or other similar methods.

Although the signature page needs to be a reproduction of the
original signature, the signature itself need not be legible. It
can even be a handwritten “X” or a similar mark in ink
(including a fingerprint). Abbreviated signatures are also
acceptable, assuming that the signatory typically signs their name
in that manner.

USCIS submissions filed electronically can present an exception
to this rule, and typed signatures may be permitted. Signatories
should follow form instructions to ensure that any
electronically-submitted forms are properly signed.

What happens if USCIS rejects a signature that has been
submitted?

USCIS does not allow applicants, petitioners, or requestors to
cure what it deems an “improper signature” and will
return the entire package if the signature is not sufficient. Even
if USCIS initially accepts a request for adjudication but later
determines that the submission has a deficient signature, USCIS
will issue a denial decision.

Once the package is rejected, the only option is to re-submit
the package with a valid signature. If USCIS issues a denial
decision based on its finding of a deficient signature, the
applicant, petitioner, or requestor still has all motion and appeal
options and rights that would otherwise be available, depending on
the form at issue.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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