HOW DO I APPLY FOR MARRIAGE-BASED GREEN CARD IN THE U.S.?
Prepare the Required Documents
There are many documents that are required, and optional documents that are recommended. Required documents include identity documents such as marriage certificate, birth certificates, passports, work permits, etc. Depending on your history, you may be required to include additional documents, i.e., if you were previously married, proof of the marriage ending (divorce decree). Any of these documents you send with your application should be photocopies as you will be required to bring the originals to your interview. You will also need to complete a medical exam by a doctor certified by USCIS to administer their required exam.
Complete the Application Forms
There is a variety of forms that are required to complete this process, as well as optional forms that are often recommended to include. The main petition is Form I-130. The second main application is known as Form I-485. Another important consideration is completing the financial sponsorship form and making sure your U.S. citizen spouse earns enough income or has enough assets as the sponsoring spouse. If not, you may need to consider finding a financial co-sponsor. There are also optional work permit and advance parole forms you can include together with the application. Hiring an attorney to review these forms or to complete them on your behalf can save you the time and stress of preparing them on your own. In addition, hiring an attorney for this preparation can help to eliminate errors and ensure the forms are properly completed.
File the Application and Wait for Mailed Notices
After completing the application and gathering all required fees, photos, and documents together, you can mail out the application to USCIS. It generally takes a few weeks to receive the mailed notices of receipt for your application. About a month after filing, you should receive a notice for fingerprints to be taken at the local field office. You may also receive notices in the future for requests to submit additional documentation. Finally, an interview notice will come about 8-10 months after you first submitted the application.
Prepare for the Marriage-Based Interview
You and your spouse will both be required to attend the interview. On the notice itself, it will list many documents to prepare for you and your spouse to bring to the interview. Important documents to include are proof of co-mingling of financial assets such as joint bank. billing statements, and jointly-filed tax returns. An attorney can help to prepare you on what documents to bring and what the interview will be like. Be prepared to be asked the same questions you answered on your initial application forms and also answer questions related to your marriage in order to prove the validity of your relationship.
Await the Decision
Sometimes right after the interview, the officer may state your case can be approved and to expect the green card in the mail in 2-3 weeks. Other times, the officer will need more time to review the case and update you accordingly via final decision in the mail. Another outcome could be a request by the officer for additional documents and/or information via a mailed letter request after the interview. In this case, it becomes especially important to seek the advice of an immigration attorney to ensure your response to their request is satisfactory. Contact our Portland Immigration Lawyer to schedule your consultation today!