The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) permit US citizens and lawful permanent residents to bring a foreign spouse to live in the United States by applying for a marriage-based green card.
In this article, you will have a full overview of the documents required in the marriage-based green card application process.
Marriage-Based Green Card – Understanding the Process
The first step for petitioners is to file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). This form is used to establish the petitioner’s relationship with an eligible relative seeking to enter the United States as a permanent resident.
If a US citizen is applying on behalf of a foreign spouse living in the United States under lawful status or parole, it is necessary to submit Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status) at the same time.
If a US citizen is applying on behalf of a foreign spouse living abroad, Form I-485 is not necessary.
For lawful permanent residents (green card holders), the requirements are similar. If a permanent resident is filing Form I-130 on behalf of a foreign spouse already living in the United States, he or she must file Form I-485 at the same time.
If the foreign spouse is still living abroad, the petitioner file Form I-130 and wait for USCIS approval. Once the petition is approved and a marriage-based visa is available, the application will be processed at a US Embassy or Consulate.
Please note that if the petitioner or one of the petitioner’s close relatives is in the US military, it may be possible to apply with special conditions. Consult with an expert attorney to identify which approach is better for your case.
What Papers Do I Need to Apply for Marriage-Based Green Card? – Taking a Closer
When applying for a marriage-based visa, petitioners must submit Form I-130 with a set of supporting documents.
If the sponsoring spouse is a US citizen, he or she must submit proof of US citizenship. Examples of acceptable documents include a US birth certificate, a valid US passport, a naturalization certificate, or a certificate of citizenship.
If the sponsoring spouse is a permanent resident, he or she must submit proof of lawful permanent status. Acceptable documents include a copy of the green card document, or a passport issued in another country with a USCIS stamp for lawful permanent status.
One of the main purposes of USCIS is to verify whether the applicant’s marriage is valid. The couple must submit proof of valid marriage, such as:
- A valid marriage certificate
- Joint lease documents
- Joint bank account statements
- Photos of the couple together (as additional evidence)
If necessary, the couple must also submit proof that any prior marriages were terminated, such as divorce papers, annulment decrees, or death certificates of a former spouse. Depending on the situation, the spouses may be required to submit proof of official name changes, such as:
- A valid marriage certificate
- A court order authorizing the name change
- Adoption papers