How to properly digitize the documents required for your green card application
It's no small task to prepare all the supporting documents for a family-based or a marriage-based green card. For the most part, the government requires copies rather than original documents, and you want to make sure that each copy is high-quality and easy to read. (Poor-quality documents can slow down the whole process, especially if the government has to request an entirely new copy.)
Whether you're using RapidVisa to easily complete your green card application, or you're creating your own digital archive, the following tips will help ensure that you're printing out high-quality digital copies that meet the government's expectations.
Best option: Scanner
For best results, use a scanner to create a digital version of each of your required documents. Most scanners allow you to adjust the resolution of the image, measured in "dots per inch" (dpi).
Black-and-white documents can generally be scanned at 300 dpi, while it's a good idea to scan color images at 600 dpi (for example, passport pages).
Next best option: Mobile app
Smartphones can be almost as good as scanners for creating digital documents—as long as you're using the right app. Most iPhones have the Notes app pre-installed, and for Android devices, it's easy to install the Google Drive app.
Both of these apps are free, and they will automatically improve the image quality of your documents after you snap photos with your phone.
Of course, you could also simply take a regular photo of your documents using your phone, without using a special mobile app. But you might have difficulty meeting all of the guidelines below.
Image Quality Checklist
To maximize the chance that the government will accept your documents, make sure that each digital image (and paper printout) meets the following guidelines:
- The document was scanned or photographed on a dark, flat surface.
- The document should appear flat, without any visible folds or creases.
- All four edges of the documents must be correct—make sure that no signatures, digits, or seals are cut off!
- Any words and numbers on the document should be clear and readable.
- Photos should be sharp (not blurry), and without any glare.
- Any documents that contain seals or photographs (like passports, certificates of naturalization, or marriage certificates) should be scanned in color so every element is visible and clear.
The good news is, by carefully using common (and often free) technology, you should be able to create high-quality supporting documents that meet all the requirements for your family or marriage green card application.