The U.S. government doesn’t know it yet — but you do. You've realized that you made a mistake on that immigration form you filed. What can you do now? What should you do?
If the Government Hasn’t Acted Yet
If you catch your mistake early, before the government has done anything in response to the form you sent, the mistake will be easier to correct.
First, ask yourself whether the mistake is a serious one, and whether it’s worth your time and effort to try to fix it right away. A mistake in the information that identifies you (like a misspelled name or the wrong birth date), or a mistake in information that would affect your eligibility for the benefit you’re seeking (like forgetting to mention an arrest or conviction) is something you want to correct right away.
But if your mistake was mixing up two numbers in the zip code of an employer you worked for ten years ago…you can relax.
To fix a mistake on a form filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), wait until you get the notice that tells you the agency received it. The notice will have a receipt number or other case identifier that will make it easier for USCIS to find the form you filed. Then you should call the National Customer Service Center, explain the mistake, and request that they fix it.
Sometimes, USCIS Customer Service will be able to fix your problem right away. If they tell you they will fix it but that it might take a while, make sure you write down the reference number they give you, in case you need to call again.
Some mistakes are too serious for Customer Service to help you with. In addition to calling Customer Service, or as an alternative, you can send a letter to the USCIS office that is processing your form, explaining the mistake and how it should be corrected, with a new signed form. (Sometimes your form gets transferred between USCIS offices, so you might want to wait until you know the address of the office that will actually work on it. You can check your case status online or ask Customer Service.)
Department of Labor forms
If you’re an employer who has made a mistake on a labor condition application (LCA) submitted through the iCERT portal, you won’t be able to edit your LCA after it has been submitted. You can withdraw it if you wish, but you’ll have to submit a new LCA with the correct information. If you need help using the iCERT portal, see the iCERT User Guide.
Similarly, you can’t correct a mistake in a PERM labor certification application. You’ll have to withdraw and refile with the correct information. If you need help with the online PERM system, use the “Getting Started” online help section in PERM.
You might be able to reconcile mismatches between information contained in a Department of Labor filing and the associated USCIS filing when it comes time for the USCIS filing. Keep that option in mind if there is no time to refile the LCA or labor certification, and the mistake is not serious. But bear in mind, the Department of Labor is very unforgiving about mistakes on LCAs and PERM applications.
Department of State forms
Like Department of Labor applications, most visa applications are done online now. If you have made a mistake on a “DS-160” form that you submitted to get a “nonimmigrant” visa, you can reopen your application from the database by entering the application ID and providing identifying information. You need to do this within 30 days after you submitted your DS-160, however. For information on how to reopen your online application, see “Made a mistake on Form DS-160 -- how do I fix it after it's submitted?”
If you need to correct a mistake on a “DS-260” form that you submitted to get a permanent resident visa, you will be unable to access your application again without the assistance of the National Visa Center (NVC) or the U.S. embassy or consulate at which you plan to apply.
If you want to correct the mistake before your visa interview at the emabassy or consulate, send an email to the NVC explaining the error and asking it to change the DS-260. Or, if you need to send additional paper documents to correct the mistake, send them along with a letter to the NVC explaining the situation, with reference to the relevant DS-260 question numbers. Check the NVC’s Contact Information page.
If USCIS Has Already Acted on Your Form
If you get your correction to USCIS early enough, it might accept your correction and start work on your form.
But if USCIS has already started working on your form and notices a mistake, two things could happen. It might send you a “Request for Evidence” asking you for more information about the mistake. (See “How to Handle a Request for Evidence (RFE) From USCIS.”)
Or, if the mistake is serious enough, USCIS might reject your original form and make you start all over again. You’ll have to file a correct form and pay the filing fee again.