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.
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.
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.
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.
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.