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  4. Treat the Date You Print Your Shipping Label as Your Postmark Date

Treat the Date You Print Your Shipping Label as Your Postmark Date

Release Date: September 20, 2023

On September 20, 2023, the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) sent out this stakeholder message:

If you use a courier service (FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc.) to mail your immigration form to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the date you print the shipping label matters.

For you to meet a regulatory and statutory deadline for filing an immigration benefit request, USCIS must physically receive your request on or before the day the deadline ends. USCIS records the receipt date as the actual date it physically receives your form at the correct filing location.

However, when USCIS issues a new edition of a form, it generally provides a grace period during which the agency will accept both the old and new editions of that form. Once the grace period ends, USCIS will reject old editions of the form. In some instances, USCIS might not allow new versions of the form to be submitted until a certain date. For the end of the grace period and determining if you are using the correct form edition and paying the correct filing fee, USCIS considers the postmark on the package as the date you “filed” or “submitted” the form. 

If You Pre-Print a Shipping Label But Mail Your Form Later

Stakeholders have informed us that they sometimes create and print a courier shipping label ahead of time and ship their form package to USCIS at a later date.

  • USCIS generally considers the shipping date printed on the shipping label as the postmark date.  
  • If there is no shipping date on the label, USCIS considers the date you printed the label to be the postmark date.  
  • If the label does not have a shipping date or print date, USCIS will assume that the postmark date is 10 days before it received the package.  

To avoid confusion, we recommend:

  • If available, file your form online.
  • If you are using FedEx, UPS, DHL, or another courier, print your shipping label and mail your form on the same day.
  • Stay up to date on form and filing fee updates, and plan accordingly. You can sign up to receive emails on USCIS’ Form Updates page.

Why This Matters

If you submit an outdated form to USCIS, there could be a serious negative impact on your immigration status. One example that stakeholders have mentioned to us is having USCIS reject their form for using the improper version. In some cases, you may not be able to refile, such as when immigration visas are no longer available for your priority date. 

If USCIS has rejected your form for using an improper version and you have documented proof of your mailing date, you can try to resolve the issue with USCIS. Go to the “Inquiries Based on Filing Location” section of USCIS’ Contact Us page for who to contact at the agency. If you still cannot resolve the issue with USCIS, you may submit a case assistance request to our office to see if we can help.

More Information

For more information on creating an online account, see USCIS’ How to Create a USCIS Online Account page.

Last Updated: 09/28/2023
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