The latest version of many forms issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allow you to save them as a PDF document and fill them out on your computer before printing and mailing them. However, a lot of kinks have yet to be worked out.
In fact, you may find that some of your answers will be changed or erased after you save and print the form.
Ironically, this was all part of a USCIS effort to ensure the accurate transfer of information into its databases, by creating new versions of certain forms with a bar code at the bottom that can be scanned. Unfortunately, USCIS released many of these forms without working out all the technical glitches first.
You may find that some answer boxes are impossible to place a check mark in, or that checking one box will erase the answer in another.
What’s more, some of the blanks are too short to include accurate information in (such as long names and foreign addresses). And because the forms cannot tell the difference between numbers and letters, writing “N/A/” or “none” in the blanks for things like Social Security Number (which was once the best practice) is often not allowed.
Our advice? Do your best until the kinks are eventually worked out, but double (and triple) check everything before you send it to USCIS, to make sure it is accurate and unchanged from what you entered.
You may, for example, need to manually write an “X” in your boxes using black ink, after printing the form. Although it may be USCIS’s fault that your answer was changed or deleted, that excuse won’t do you much good if USCIS rejects or delays your application as a result.