Home » Articles » Documents » Do You Have to Submit Photocopies or Original Documents to USCIS?

Do You Have to Submit Photocopies or Original Documents to USCIS?

When applying for a US visa, you need to provide supporting documentation as proof of your eligibility for a benefit to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). These documents are required to make a decision on your application. Examples of supporting documentation include birth certificates, marriage licenses, Permanent Resident Cards, etc. In most cases, it is enough if you present a copy of the original document and an original translation into English language if that document is written in a foreign language.

Here is a guide on when you will need to present regular copies or original documents.


In almost all cases, submit a photocopy of your supporting document to USCIS, unless specified in another way. Documents for which the copy is sufficient include:

  • • Birth, adoption and marriage certificates.
  • • Academic transcript, diplomas or results from standardized tests.
  • • Income tax documents, bank statements, or homeownership documents.
  • • Naturalized certificates, certificates of citizenship and Permanent Resident Cards can be photocopied for submission to USCIS for an application or petition although the law prohibits to photocopy them.
  • • However, if you submitted a photocopy, USCIS might request you to show the original document at a personal interview or by mail and return it to you.

Original documents

If a document was issued solely to present it to USCIS, an applicant or petitioner must submit the original document. For example:

  • • All applications and petitions.
  • • Form I-20 issued by an educational institution to a foreign student.
  • • Form DS/209 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 an authorized civil surgeon.
  • • Advisory opinion such a letter from an expert recognizing an applicant-s extraordinary professional skills.
  • • Affidavits prepared in place of unavailable documents like an affidavit in place of a brith certificate that was destroyed by fire.

If you need to recover an original document

If you submitted an original document by mistake, don’t worry, you can submit Form G-884 to request to recovery of your original documents.

Does USCIS require the original copy of a translation?

Simply put, no.  Working with the USCIS, you will require certified translations. This is where Rev.com excels, providing a certification of every document translated. Neither a notarized translation nor an original copy is required when working with the USCIS; ordinary, legible, photocopies of documents translated are accepted. We’ll provide a PDF of your translated document via email.

To learn more about when USCIS requires original or copies of your documents, visit USCIS.gov: