The documents one requires to apply for a Green Card through marriage in the US vary from person to person. Citizens or permanent residents can sponsor their partner for a Green Card. However, the application process and the required documents are different for the people applying from inside the US than those who are applying from outside. The processes fall under Adjustment of Status if you’re in the USA, and Consular Processing, if you’re out.
Although a few documents might vary, the list of marriage-based green card documents is given below:
- Birth certificate
- Marriage certificate
- Financial documents
- Proof of sponsor’s US citizenship or permanent residence
While the above documents are mandatory for the Green Card application process, the documents below are required only if applicable.
- Proof of lawful US entry and status
- Police clearance certificate
- Court, police, and prison records
- Documents of the previous marriage
- Military records
- Current or expired US visa
- Medical documents
Establishing the Marriage Relationship
Once you’ve gathered all the documents, your first step should be to submit an I-130 form (officially termed as the Petition for Alien Relative) to US Citizenship and Immigration Services. The spouse who is already a Green Card holder or a US citizen is the petitioner. The one who is seeking approval is the beneficiary or Green Card applicant.
You will have to complete the whole I-130 package, which includes:
- Government fee of $535 for filing the form
- Proof of the citizenship of the sponsoring spouse (birth certificate or certificate of naturalization of the sponsor)
- You might also have to submit the valid US passport photo page of the sponsor, proof of permanent residence, or a copy of the sponsor’s Green Card
- Marriage certificate, where the names of both spouses, place, and date of the marriage are visible
- Documentation for a joint lease, joint bank account statements, and photos of the sponsor and the applicant together to support the marriage documents
- In case the spouse has had a previous marriage, they have to submit the termination papers for the same
Establishing the Eligibility of Your Spouse
You can only apply for family-based immigration if there are at least two of you (you and your spouse).
- Living in the US
If you live in the US, look for a form I-485 after you are done establishing your marriage. This will have a government filing fee of $1225, including charges for the application and biometrics.
You can submit the I-485 and the I-130, with all the other required documents such as I-94( the travel record or prior US visa) and the I-864 (Affidavit of Support-tax returns and pay stubs of the spouse to prove financial status). Once submitted, the USCIS takes 9-11 months to process the documents.
- Living abroad
However, if you’re living abroad, you will have to file a package with the National Visa Center. This form will cost you $445. You’ll also have to fill a form DS-260, an online application form for the Green Card. Ensure that you’ve got a copy of your birth certificate and a police clearance certificate handy.