USCIS Transmission of Notices and Documents

Effective January 27, 2015, changes will be made to the issuance of decisions and correspondence, as well as documents related to permanent residence. The changes impact which parties will receive written communication or notices and documents from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Parties Involved in USCIS Cases

There are typically a number of people involved in each immigration case. These parties often include the applicant or beneficiary, the petitioner, and the attorney or accredited representative. The applicant is the foreign national who is seeking the immigration benefit. The petitioner generally is the employer or family member who has filed the petition that provides the basis for the applicant’s eligibility for the requested immigration benefit. Normally, original notices and documents are sent to the individual, petitioner, or applicant who requested the particular benefit. If the applicant and/or petitioner is represented by an attorney or accredited representative, that attorney or representative typically receives a courtesy copy.

Final Rule Clarifies Where Documents Will Be Sent

In 2011, as part of a transformation initiative by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), changes were made in the regulations regarding transmission of notices and secure documents. However, those changes resulted in a lack of clarity regarding this matter. Thus, DHS has created a rule that clarifies where the USCIS will send original documents and courtesy copies. The final rule provides as follows:

  • For unrepresented individuals, the USCIS will transmit notices directly to applicants and/or petitioners.
  • If an individual or employer is represented by an attorney or accredited representative, the USCIS will send original notices to the applicant and/or petitioner, as well as the attorney or representative. Some immigration forms allow the applicant or petitioner to request that the original notices and documents be sent to the attorney or accredited representative, only. If this request is made, a courtesy copy will be transmitted to the petitioner and/or applicant.
  • For applications and petitions filed electronically, the USCIS will send electronic notifications to the applicant and/or petitioner. The attorney or authorized representative will also receive electronic notification. If the applicant or petitioner requests notification by mail or if the USCIS determines that it is appropriate to do so, a paper notice will be issued.

I-94 to Attorney or Applicant / Petitioner

In the revised regulations, the USCIS has memorialized the current practice of sending an I-797 approval notice that includes an I-94 to the attorney or accredited representative, if one exists. A tear-off I-94 reflecting either a change of status or an extension of status is printed at the bottom of certain I-797 approval notices. The I-94 is an important document, as it is evidence of a foreign national’s particular immigration status and the duration of said status. This document will be sent to the attorney or representative’s official business address, unless the USCIS is notified that it should be sent instead to the applicant or petitioner.

Original Documents Like EAD to Foreign National

The USCIS will continue the practice of transmitting original, secure documents only to the foreign national, unless specifically directed to send such documents to the attorney or accredited representative. These documents include the permanent resident card (I-551) and the employment authorization document, or EAD (I-765).


This final rule is intended to both clarify existing policy, and to add some flexibility for the preferences of the various parties involved in the immigration process. MurthyDotCom will continue to provide updates on matters of U.S. immigration law and procedures, as changes occur.


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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.