Submitting Birth Certificates with Forms I-130 and I-485 – Suggested Practices Highlighted by the NPZ Law Group

The NPZ Law Group offers a suggested practice: submitting birth certificates with Forms I-130 and I-485. This is to ensure that initial filings are compliant under the Department of State (DOS) Foreign Affairs Manual (FAM) or Reciprocity and Civil Documents list.

The Case Assistance Committee (CAC) of the American Immigration Lawyers Association is aware that immigration attorneys experienced multiple incidences of receiving Requests for Evidence (RFEs) for the same civil document that they submitted in initial petition filings. This issue has seemed to become more prevalent in the past few months. Often RFEs do not confirm if specific documents were ever received, and they rarely explain if or how those documents were deficient. AILA brought this issue to USCIS’s attention, and it also provided recommendations to USCIS about how to handle this trend.

Suggested Practices for Submitting Birth Certificates with Forms I-130 and I-485

Here are some suggested practices for submitting birth certificates with Forms I-130 and I-485 to help reduce the chances of complications.

Check the instructions for each petition/form to acquire the latest filing requirements:

• Check the DOS’s Country Reciprocity Schedule to determine if birth certificates are available and if you can acquire an acceptable secondary document for the evidence of birth for certain countries. Review the documents to ensure they conform with the requirements of the Reciprocity Schedule.

• Applicants must follow the DOS reciprocity list’s instructions if the primary document is unavailable. In addition, they must try every means to acquire the primary document. They may only submit secondary evidence if the primary document is not available. According to the USCIS Policy Manual, USCIS Officers must check the DOS’ Country Reciprocity Schedule.

• Applicants must check the USCIS Policy Manual periodically for updates.

• An Applicant must provide a foreign birth certificate or acceptable secondary evidence of birth to establish his or her country of citizenship for identity, visa chargeability, and the existence of derivative relationships. Check the DOS’ State’s Country Reciprocity Schedule and 8 CFR 103.2(b)(2) if secondary evidence is required.

• Provide a complete and certified English translation for all documents that contain one or more foreign languages.

• An Applicant should submit supporting documents when filing every petition/application, even if it seems unnecessary or redundant. For example, if the Applicant is filing a one-step adjustment, it’s best to provide the necessary supporting evidence of birth abroad for Form I-130 and the same evidence for Form I-485, etc.

If you have any questions about how these laws in the United States may impact you or your family or want to access additional information about United States or Canadian immigration and nationality laws, please feel free to get in touch with the immigration and nationality lawyers at NPZ Law Group. You can send us an email at, or you can call us at 201-670-0006 extension 104. In addition, we invite you to find more information on our website at