Preparing an immigration application for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires filling out complex paperwork and gathering supporting documents. Using a cover letter is a great way to keep your application materials organized and make sure you don’t miss any required documents. It’s also a good opportunity to highlight anything you want USCIS to know about your application. This article explains what a cover letter is and the elements it should include. It also includes a template you can use to write your own.
Written by Jonathan Petts.
Updated May 4, 2023
What Is a USCIS Cover Letter?
A cover letter is a document that helps USCIS officers navigate your application materials. You can place a cover letter at the top of your citizenship, permanent resident, DACA, or visa application package. By outlining your reasons for applying and the contents of your application in a cover letter, you give your USCIS officer a useful overview of your case. You can also use your cover letter as a personal checklist to make sure you’ve included all necessary documents in your package.
You may also use a cover letter to explain any special circumstances you want the USCIS officer to be aware of before they start reviewing your application. If you have a unique or complicated background, it is especially helpful to supplement your application with a cover letter. It will ensure that USCIS becomes aware of any special circumstances and can consider your application with this in mind.
Is a Cover Letter Required for My USCIS Application?
USCIS does not require you to submit a cover letter for any immigration benefit or visa application. Many immigration attorneys include cover letters for their clients to prevent any misunderstandings or missing paperwork. Immigration officers read through a lot of paperwork, so any guidance or organization you can offer them will be helpful.
Cover letters may be especially helpful when you are in a unique situation. Suppose you are applying for a marriage green card with Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative, and you and your spouse have lived apart for some time. You and your U.S. citizen or green card holder spouse can use a cover letter to explain this or any other unusual circumstances behind your marriage.
USCIS will want to know the reasons behind an unusual living or marriage situation when evaluating your adjustment of status application. A cover letter can help you address any major concerns at the beginning of the process.
What Should My USCIS Cover Letter Include?
When submitting a cover letter with your application, be sure to include the following:
The USCIS filing location or lockbox address to which you’re sending your application
The date of filing
An appropriate subject (re:) line
A short introductory paragraph to describe the contents of your letter and package
If applying for a marriage-related benefit, information about the marriage date and location for yourself (the beneficiary) and your spouse (the petitioner)
An ordered list of the content in your application package, including all supporting documents and filing or biometrics fees included
A closing paragraph including your contact information
Your signature and full printed name
Your supporting documents for an application will depend on which forms you’re filing. You can determine which documents are necessary by reviewing USCIS’ webpage for your specific form. For example, USCIS lists the required supporting evidence on its webpage for Form N-400 applicants.
You’ll also need to identify the right mailing address for your application. To do so, you should consult the USCIS website. For example, naturalization applicants can review USCIS’s webpage for Form N-400 direct filing addresses.
Your filing fees will depend on your specific application type. You can use the USCIS Fee Calculator to determine your costs. For example, suppose you are filing for naturalization with Form N-400. You should select Form N-400 on the Fee Calculator and enter your age. USCIS may ask for additional information, such as your specific application category.
USCIS Cover Letter Template
You may use the sample cover letter below as guidance when writing your cover letter. This specific cover letter sample is for a naturalization application, intended for submission alongside Form N-400. Be sure to personalize this template to reflect your application type and circumstances. If you’d like to use the following template, you may also make a copy of this document to start writing.
[Petitioner’s Street Address]
[Petitioner’s City, State ZIP code]
[Relevant USCIS mailing address]
RE: [Naturalization Application]
Beneficiary: [Immigrant’s Full Legal Name]
To Whom It May Concern:
Enclosed, please find the Naturalization Application for [Immigrant’s Full Legal Name].
The following documents accompany and support this application:
Filing Fee Payments
[Check or Money Order] in the amount of [Current Fee Amount] for Form N-400
Form G-1450 authorizing payment of the filing fee for Form N-400 (credit card charge authorization if you completed one)
[Form G-1145 (e-notice authorization if you requested them in our system)]
[OPTIONAL Beneficiary’s Form I-912 Fee Waiver Application]
[List of supporting documents]
Beneficiary’s Form N-400 Application for Naturalization
[List of supporting documents]
If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at [Phone Number]. Thank you very much for your prompt consideration of my Naturalization Application.
[Immigrant’s Full Name]
Tips for Writing Your USCIS Cover Letter
When writing a USCIS cover letter, be sure to type your letter in English on a computer. Keep your letter concise and only include necessary information. A long cover letter will not be as helpful to a USCIS officer as a brief letter. If possible, keep your letter to one page. Be sure to proofread your letter before submitting your application package.