On Feb. 16, 2018, USCIS published the final policy memorandum on signature requirements, which changed its existing rules for signatures on written requests filed with USCIS. Effective March 18, 2018, all paper filings with the USCIS must include a handwritten ink signature and USCIS will no longer accept signatures of individuals based on power of attorney for corporate clients. The only exceptions where power of attorney signatures will still be accepted are signatures on behalf of children under 14 and individuals with disabilities. There are additional changes made by the final policy memorandum, such as a requirement that an authorized signatory must be employed by the petitioner and that USCIS may reject a form submitted with a faulty signature instead of offering the opportunity to fix the deficiency. Below is a quick summary of the key points identified by the final policy memo regarding signature requirements.

Signature Requirements

  1. A valid signature must be a handwritten mark or sign. A signature is valid even if the original signature is later photocopied, scanned, faxed or similarly produced. Regardless of how it is transmitted to USCIS, the copy must be of an original document containing a handwritten, ink signature, unless regulations or the form instructions state otherwise.
  2. USCIS will not accept signatures created by a typewriter, word processor, stamp, auto-pen, or similar device.
  3. If the signature is not valid, USCIS will consider the request unsigned and will reject the request; If USCIS accepts a request for adjudication and later determines the signature to be deficient, the request will be denied.
  4. If a filing is not properly signed at the time of submission, USCIS will not provide an opportunity to correct the submission, and will reject the filing.
  5. If USCIS needs additional information to confirm if the signatory is authorized to act on behalf of the individual, corporation, or legal entity, USCIS may issue RFE or NOID to confirm such authority existed at the time the document was submitted.

Who Must Sign a Request or Document Submitted to USCIS

  1. The individual (excluding corporations or other legal entities, as well as attorneys, accredited representatives, agents, preparers, and interpreters) seeking an immigrant benefit or other USCIS action must personally sign the request or document. The only situations where power of attorney signatures can be accepted are when the individual is under 14 years old or is mentally incompetent.
  2. For corporations and other legal entities, only certain individuals, such as executive officers, managing members/partners, attorneys employed in an employer-employee relationship, and human resources managers, have the authority to sign a request or other documents to be filed with USCIS. Any of the authorized individual must be employed by the corporation or the legal entity.
  3. Should USCIS has reason to doubt the veracity of the person’s authority to sign or act on behalf of the corporation or other legal entity, it may request evidence which demonstrates the person has the requisite legal authority to sign the request.

Please refer to the final policy memorandum for detailed guidance on the signature requirement updates.