What documents do I need to file for a green card through marriage?

Congrats on your marriage and welcome to the United States!

Are you already ready to learn about the process of a marriage-based green card application?

Before starting the marriage green card process, learn what documents applicants need to prepare to speed the process up and avoid making common mistakes. Make sure to find more information that might interest you on our blog, or contact us. We would be glad to help you achieve your dreams.

Marriage-based green card in short

In the United States, two categories of U.S. visas are available: immigrant and nonimmigrant. Immigrant U.S. visa is intended for foreign nationals who want to live permanently in the United States, and nonimmigrant visas are for those who intend to come temporarily.

A marriage-based green card is an immigrant visa for a foreign-born spouse of a U. S. citizen or permanent resident, allowing them to live and work in the United States and apply for U.S. citizenship after three years.

If the green card documents application process sounds complicated and confusing, you can get help from an immigration attorney from Herman Legal Group. By contacting us on (+1) (800) 808-4013 or (+1)(614) 300-1131, or complete our online contact form for a free initial consultation, we will work together on your case.

Step by Step

To obtain permanent resident status, you have to:

  • Submit I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative);
  • Complete Application to Register Permanent Residence
  • Attend the marriage green card interview and await approval

Here, we will talk about documents that you need to provide through each of these steps, but if you want to learn more about the green card documents process, read our Guide.

Step 1: Submit Form I-130

The first step to ensure permanent residence as a spouse of a U.S. citizen is to submit a Form I-130 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

To prove that your valid marriage exists, you must prepare some supporting documentation, as well.

Both petitioners with U.S. citizenship and permanent resident status and beneficiary need to provide information about:

  • Address history for the past five years
  • Employment history in the past five years, (submit your prior work permit if you have received it in the past)
  • Date previous marriage ended

Besides, there are other documents and evidence to attach to your application.

Petitioner

Additional petitioner’s information to provide:

  • whether he or she is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (birth certificate and photo ID, U.S. work permit if any, or other document proving the nationality)
  • whether he or she previously filed a petition for the beneficiary or other foreign national.

Beneficiary

An immigrant that wants to apply for a permanent residence status needs to provide the following details:

  • I-94 information (if physically present in the United States)
  • Any previous immigration proceedings

Proof of paid filing fee

The filing fee for the I-130 petition is $535.

Proof of status

Depending on your situation, relevant evidence may be a photocopy of birth, citizenship, or naturalization certificate for U.S. citizens or a photocopy of both sides of the green card or other proof.

Marriage certificate

Attaching a copy of your marriage certificate as supporting evidence showing that your marriage is valid and exists, you will prove a relationship between you and your spouse.

Proof of terminated marriages, if any

If you were previously married, you would need appropriate documents proving that it was legally terminated. This may be a divorce decree or death certificate.

Passport Style photos

Both of you need to attach two passport-style color photos taken within 30 days of filing the petition.

Proof that your marriage is bonafide

USCIS will examine your documentation very thoroughly so ensure your evidence shows that your marriage is legitimate. For example, you can use shared financial liabilities, assets, insurance, tax filings, birth certificates of a child born into the marriage to prove that valid marriage exists, etc.

Cover letter

Although optional, a cover letter will help you describe supporting documents showing in more detail any evidence that might need additional clarification. With this letter, you can get a chance to explain to the immigration officer your situation, but don’t go too much into detail, since you will present your evidence at the green card interview.

If you fail to provide all relevant documents, the USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to supplement your petition.

Step 2: Adjust Permanent Resident Status

To determine a spouse’s eligibility, the USCIS will consider whether he or she lives in the United States or overseas.

When Applicant Living in the United States

If a spouse is in the United States, he or she must file Form I-485 (“Adjustment of Status” application or Application to Register Permanent Residence) concurrently. This will allow your spouse to get a marriage-based green card without leaving the U.S.

Documents to prepare:

  • Government-Issued Identity Document (a valid passport or a driver’s license);
  • Birth Certificate;
  • Inspection and admission/Inspection and Advance Parole
  • Immigrant category documentation
  • Marriage certificate;
  • Evidence of continuously maintaining citizenship or LPR.
  • Affidavit of Support/ Confirmation of Bona Fide Job Offer/ Request for Job Portability Under INA Section – unless a job offer is not required.
  • Financial Support proofs
  • Form I-693- Report of medical examination and vaccination record
  • Filing fees

Medical Examination is required for each member of your family who is applying for adjustment of status. In order to get the medical examination, you need to visit a USCIS doctor.

Within this package, you should also include any other document received from U.S. officials, such as a work permit (Employment Authorization Document).

If you are a U.S. citizen

Your spouse has to file the I-485 filing package, the I-130 form, and supporting documentation, as in Step 1.

If You Hold Permanent Resident Card

Your spouse can submit the I-485 filing visa package after the USCIS decides that a marriage green card is available in the visa bulletin.

When Applicant Living Overseas

If you or your spouse are currently abroad: you need to submit a visa application package with the National Visa Center (NVC)

Supporting Documents to the Form I-485

Additional documentation aims to prove the eligibility of an immigration petitioner who wants to live in the United States. Some of them are obligatory, and others are optional.

Obligatory forms

Applicants who prepare the petition will usually include:

  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • Form I-693 — USCIS doctor provides this form establishing that the applicant is not inadmissible to the United States on public health grounds.

Optional forms

  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization — to request employment permission.
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document — to obtain an advance parole travel document and be able to come back after traveling abroad.

Step 3: Attend the Interview

After you sent your application package, you will receive a receipt notice from USCIS stating the date of your interview. The final step also requires you to bring certain documents. You can bring originals with you, but make sure to have copies if you need to leave some to the interviewing officer.

Photos and Passports:

You will need to present photo identification so it can be another official document as well. U.S. citizens or permanent residents may present a driver’s license.

Work or Travel Permits and Original Documents:

You should attach the original document you used when entering the United States and all documents you’ve gotten from U.S. consulates or USCIS. Since you probably provided USCIS with copies in your application package, bring originals at the interview.

Applicants will need to bring the original proof of U.S. citizenship status or permanent resident status. Don’t forget to ask the U.S. government officer for either an approval letter or an I-551 stamp in your passport. You will need to have evidence of the adjusted status until your marriage green card documents arrive.

New Evidence

If anything important changed or you forgot to provide in your application package, you can bring this proof to the interview.

Proof of Authenticity of Your Marriage:

The interviewing officer will assess your documents and your answers at the interview to determine whether your marriage is real. Bring anything you find appropriate such as rental agreements and mortgages, joint bank and credit card statements, tax returns, membership in clubs, and many other documents you provide can help you prove that your marriage is bonafide.

Herman Legal Group law firm provides U.S. Immigration services to our clients across the U.S. and overseas. If you need help with applying for an immigrant and nonimmigrant visa, getting a green card, or to adjust status, and prepare required documentation, you can use the online form or call us at (+1) (800) 808-4013 or (+1)(614) 300-1131. With our immigration attorney Richard Herman, you can get your case assessed, the best strategy developed, and legal advice on how to go through the process in the best possible way.

At Herman Legal Group, Your Future Matters Most
Call now to Request your Consultation
+1-800-808-4013
24/7 Evening and Weekends
Request Consultation