In the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, USCIS announced that it would accept copies of original signatures for petitions and applications sent to USCIS in paper form. Previously, there was haphazard guidance and practice over when and on what forms USCIS would accept copies of signatures. As of July 25, 2022, USCIS made permanent the pandemic policy to accept copies of original signatures. The copy must be of an original, ink signature made by hand and not digitally affixed to the document. Computer-generated signatures, such as the neatly created ones from “DocuSign” or other software, and physical or digital signature stamps of a hand-written signature, still are not acceptable.

This announcement came with an update of the automatic, 60-day extensions to reply to various requests and notices from USCIS in response to a petition or application. They include Requests for Evidence, Notices of Intent to Deny, Revoke, Rescind, Terminate, or Withdraw, and Motions to Reopen. USCIS now allows 60 more calendar days beyond the original due date to respond to requests, notices or motions dated between March 1, 2020 and October 23, 2022. Although the signature policy is permanent, the expectation is that at some point, USCIS will stop granting the extra 60 days to respond to requests and notices.

The signature policy is a welcome development for organizations and individuals who engage attorneys to prepare and submit petitions and applications to USCIS. It saves the back-and-forth shipment of documents. It also is especially helpful when deadlines are looming. Until a completely online filing system is available, this new policy is a step in the right direction.