Software to Use for Immigration, Visa Documents (Scan, Share, Protect?)

Use mobile apps for color scanning documents and Google drive cloud storage - easy access from all devices. Passport photo scan, transcript services.

Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta    Updated  10 Aug, 20


We all have filed some kind of visa application or an immigration bundle at some point in our life.

In the world of technology, we have tried to create a list of top software and services that can be used to manage your important documents online.

This article will discuss:

Softwares

Here is a list of software and apps that can be useful in keeping everything intact and reachable within a minute.

#1 Documents Scanning

I recommend using Adobe Scan app for Android and Apple iPhone.

Adobe is more reliable for me than the other popular app CamScanner.

I did use it earlier but uninstalled when the news of its malware broke out by Kaspersky. The word was that the app was sending private information to Chinese companies.

Both apps are free to use and make money by selling online cloud storage space for your documents.

Other apps as suggested by our guests (I have not used them personally):

#2 Cloud Storage

You can avoid buying the app’s storage by using free options like Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, or Dropbox.

All these drives have generous free storage limits.

I have personally used Google Drive and it has never disappointed.

All the cloud storage options make your documents available on each device including Macbook, Dell laptop, iPad, and my Google Pixel phone irrespective of the operating system.

#3 Passport Photos Scanning

You would need passport size photos for various needs like:

You can scan the paper pictures using the excellent Google Photoscan app.

If you have never used it before, I strongly recommend to get this free app and you will be amazed at its scanning capabilities.

The scanned photo will look like it was clicked with your camera phone as Google uses it Artificial intelligence technology for scanning.

Google Photoscan App

In most cases, the passport photos are only accepted if they were clicked within the last 6 months.

Recently, I wrote about how to scan the passport size photo for Australian PR using Google’s Photo scanning app.

Hardware

#1 ‘Safe’ to Protect Paper Documents at Home

If you are careless like me, then you have probably never thought about renting a Bank locker for the actual original physical paper documents.

If you have not, then now is the time to do it.

You can either rent a locker at your local bank branch to keep jewelry and precious documents or invest in a good Sentry safe which can protect documents from flooding and fire.

Sentry Safe for Immigration documents

I am sure the cost of ‘safe’ will easily be less than the cost of getting those documents again from universities and immigration departments.

#2 Document Folder

Although it is not a software or an app, you do need a transparent plastic folder to carry your immigration papers whenever you need to visit an embassy.

The most visited consulate in the world is the US embassy and they allow only clear plastic bags to carry important paperwork.

Clear plastic carry bag for papers

This is an important item and you should always keep it with you.

#3 Passport Safety while traveling

Another important item is the passport carrier while you are traveling.

I recommend buying a Travel Neck Wallet with RFID Blocking to keep your passport safe and always hanging around your neck.

Passport holder for protection

This wallet has RFID blocking lined with radio frequency shielding material to block unwanted scans by nearby devices.

Example:

You will not be able to enter the US if your passport with a US visa is stolen or lost while you are away taking a sunbath on a beach.

It might not provide full protection but helps keep some things away apart from helping you keep your passport always on your body.

#4 Use Clips, Not Stapler

You should never staple the visa or immigration documents. Most countries prefer that you use paper clips (small) or binder paper clips instead of staplers.

Paper binder clip

This helps prevent tearing off your immigration documents.

Example:

An H4 visa holder in the USA can use the paper clip to bind all H4 EAD application documents as shown in this picture:

H4 EAD application package
H4 EAD application package

#5 Dispose Papers

I strongly recommend to use a shredder to protect your identity.

Do not throw the old unused copies of your passport, visa or other immigration documents without tearing them into small pieces.

If you cannot tear them by hand like this, use a paper shredder.

Most public libraries in the US, Canada, Australia, UK and New Zealand have free shredders. Use them to discard your important paper copies.

#6 Printer at home

I strongly recommend using a printer at home or at a safe public community library which can be trusted.

Most printers these days come with a temporary memory which is wiped off after a certain amount of time but if you are not sure, your document can be copied easily without you ever knowing.

Services

#1 Notary Services

There are online notary services available in the US and other countries now and these are some of them:

Remote notary web call for notarization of power of attorney
Remote notary web call for notarization of power of attorney

Most states in the US have passed laws to make the online notary legal.

#2 Payment By Credit/Debit card

There are multiple types of fee involved when you pay online for visa services:

  1. Foreign transaction fee – by Bank in your home country – Can be saved.
  2. Payment collection Surcharge – by bank in the destination country – Cannot be saved.
  3. Exchange rate difference – Cannot be saved.

Most credit or debit cards charge a foreign transaction fee if you are paying for a visa or green card or PR fee online from outside the country of visit.

You should always try to use a credit card that has no foreign transaction fee first.

Some of the cards that I know do not charge any fee (or reduced fee) are:

  1. Synchrony Bank Credit Card (USA) – Zero charges
  2. Discover Credit Card (USA) – Only some type of cards have zero charges
  3. American Express (USA)- Some cards have zero charge – check your plan before using it
  4. Paypal (Global) usually charges about a 1% payment fee anywhere in the world but it may be different for your case. Check before using it.
  5. Forex Debit card / Travelers Cheque (Country Specific) – An easy way to save on foreign transaction charge is to get a Forex Debit card from your bank at the home country for the currency that you intend to pay in. This will easily save about 3% of charges.

While a foreign transaction fee is charged by your card-issuing-bank in your home country, there is a transaction surcharge taken by the bank in the destination country.

The immigration department may ask you to pay this ‘surcharge’ which is basically the transaction fee charged by the bank in the destination country.

You cannot avoid or reduce or save this charge unless the immigration department wants to pay it out of their own pocket:

Debit/CreditSurcharge
PayPal1.00%
Visa / Mastercard1.32%
American Express1.40%
JCB1.40%
Union Pay1.90%
Diners Club International1.99%
DiscoverNot accepted

#3 University Transcript

You might need transcripts from home countries to apply for study visas in countries like the US (like F1, M2 visa), Australia, Canada, New Zealand, or the UK.

There are some online service providers like NVdocumentation.com (India) available who can visit the university campus and apply in-person on your behalf if you cannot travel.

Delhi University Sealed Envelope Transcript for visa
Delhi University Sealed Envelope Transcript for visa

You can use their services for a fee. I still recommend asking one of your relatives or a friend to visit the campus and file an application.

FAQ

Should I photocopy my Documents at public shops?

I strongly suggest to not use public photocopy or xerox machines for your immigration documents or visa approval copies.

Example: Documents like passport biometric page, US visa approval copy like i-797 contain important identification information and can be easy to misuse.

Almost all copier machines have a hard disk that stores your documents before printing.

This storage is not deleted automatically and can be accessed by the machine owner.

It is always better to scan your documents using your smartphone and then upload them to your Google account cloud storage.

You can print them once you have access to an office printer or invest in a good all-in-one printer.

We will keep updating this page with new software and services that we discover over time. You can bookmark it if you find it useful.

What software or apps do you use? Share with us in the comments.




Author

Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta           

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