Your Complete Guide to Marriage Green Card in the U.S.
When deciding to apply for marriage green card in the U.S., also known as “adjustment of status”, if your husband/wife is a U.S. citizen, and you entered the U.S. legally (generally on a visa), you should be able to file both the I-130 petition and I-485 application at the same time. This post will be your comprehensive guide to applying for a marriage-based green card while you are in the U.S.
You will need to submit copies of your marriage certificate, your birth certificate (with certified English translation), your passport biographic page and all visa stamped pages, your husband/wife’s proof of U.S. citizenship (U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport biographic page, or Certificate of Naturalization/Citizenship). If you were a student on an F-1 visa, include your I-20 received from your designated school official. If you were approved by USCIS for a change of status or extension of status since you were in the U.S., you should also provide copies of those documents as well. You will also be required to provide your I-94 arrival/departure record which will either be retrieved online if you came into the U.S. recently, or you may have a paper I-94 from a long time ago attached to your passport, or one recently issued by USCIS based on a change of status or extension of status approval.
If you or your spouse were previously divorced, you will also want to include certified copies of the divorce decrees, and if the divorce happened outside the U.S., you will also need to include a certified English translation. If your spouse’s previous marriage ended by spouse’s former spouse passing away, they will also need to provide the death certificate.
Collect Joint Documents:
You and your spouse should include all documents that have both your names and same address on it including joint bank statements, billing statements, insurance statements, car payments, utility bills, lease agreement, and copies of your state ID cards/licenses. You can also ask your family and friends to write letters of support that affirm your legitimate marital relationship together. Include photos together with you, your spouse, and family and friends. This is because of the more people in your photos, the more proof that more people know about your relationship.
Medical Examination (Form I-693):
You must also complete a medical examination and have your certified civil surgeon (doctor designated in your area to administer these USCIS required exams), sign the form I-693. They will seal the results in an envelope marked specifically for USCIS and you will attach this to your application before submitting to USCIS. One tip is you can submit the application without the medical exam results initially and wait until you get your interview scheduled about 6-8 months after filing and obtain it prior to the interview then bring the results on the day of the interview.
Collect Financial Support Documents:
Your spouse is required to sign a financial sponsorship form known as the I-864. They must show that their current annual income is more than the Federal Poverty guidelines for the current year 2019. Currently, if it is just you and your spouse living together in a 2-person household, your spouse would need to earn at least $20,575 per year to be considered earning enough to sponsor you. You will need to provide your spouse’s most recent tax return including W-2 statement as well as reference the total income from the previous two years before that to list on the Form I-864.
Complete the I-130 Petition & I-485 Application Forms and Mail to USCIS:
Once you have all the documents ready, it is time to complete all the application forms. The two required application forms are the Form I-130 and Form I-485. Form I-130 is the petition for you that your spouse signs as the U.S. Citizen Petitioner, and you are the Beneficiary. However, as a Spouse Beneficiary, you will be required to complete and sign Form I-130A. This step is typically done first, but in a green card application based on marriage, you can also file the I-485 concurrently (at the same time) as the I-130 petition, cutting your wait time in half. Once you complete the I-485, you can also complete optional form I-765 (work authorization request) and form I-131 (advance parole request) which will allow you to get a temporary work/travel combo card in the mail in about 5 months after filing your application. As mentioned above, you will also need to have your spouse complete and sign the Form I-864 which will detail his/her past three years income earned and current income including employer information. Once all forms are completed you can put them together attaching them with the copies of documents you collected and include a cover letter describing all the documents that are included in the packet. You must also attach the required filing fees of $535 for I-130 fee, and $1,225 for I-485 fee. You must also provide 2 passport-sized photos of you and your spouse. Include the form I-693 medical exam results in a sealed envelope. You will then mail it to the required USCIS mailing address that is listed on the government site at uscis.gov. Location may vary based on where you currently reside.
Receive Receipt Notices, Biometrics Appointment and Respond to any RFE:
After mailing out the application, you should receive receipt notices in the mail in a few weeks. Then a few weeks after that, you will get biometrics (fingerprint) appointment notice which schedules you to go to your local USCIS field office to take your electronic fingerprints and photo. This is to get a background check on you prior to the application continuing to process. If your application is missing any required information or the application was not all completed, you may get a Request for Evidence (“RFE”) in the mail asking you to submit the required documents in order for the application to resume processing. If you fail to respond or respond with insufficient evidence, then the application will be denied.
Attend Interview, then wait for the decision:
If you are able to process the application successfully, you should be getting your work permit/advance parole combo card in about 5 months time. Thereafter, it is currently taking USCIS about 6-7 months to schedule interviews for married couples to attend. Once you receive your interview notice, you should then prepare for the documents listed on the notice, such as your IDs, original birth certificates, marriage certificate, passports, divorce decrees (if applicable), along with updated joint documents such as jointly filed tax returns, copies of joint banking and billing statements, and photos together since wedding date to current time. Your interviewing officer will ask you questions on your form I-130 and form I-485 and both you and your spouse will be asked about how you met, how you proposed, how you married, and about your marital relationship. For more information see our article about preparing for the marriage-based interview.
If you have any additional questions about this process, contact our firm to schedule a consultation with our Portland immigration lawyer.