Individuals seeking immigration benefits must provide a "valid signature" on forms submitted to the agency. According to a finalized policy memo, this now means that documents signed with a Power of Attorney (POA) are no longer acceptable. Only signatures that are an original, handwritten mark are allowed; stamps or typewritten signatures will be rejected. This new and final memo effectively overturns interim policy that was published in June 2016 citing fraud concerns, inconsistent application, and difficulty in prosecutions with prior policy that allowed for POA signatures.
“In an effort to protect and safeguard the nation’s immigration system and those who benefit from it, power of attorney signatures will no longer be accepted,” USCIS said in a statement. “If forms are filed by a corporation or other legal entity, they must be signed by an authorized person.”
Corporations and legal entities should take care in delegating who will sign petitions on their behalf. When in doubt, confirm with legal counsel.
The new policy is effective March 17, 2018. Applications filed with signatures that are deemed unacceptable will be rejected without an opportunity to remedy. As such, rejected applications will not preserve rights if deadlines are missed.
Children under 14 and mentally incompetent individuals may continue to have applications signed by a legal guardian.