What Documents Are Needed to Apply for a Marriage Green Card?

You can reside and work permanently in the U.S. if you have a green card. Based on your circumstances, there may be various initiatives you need to take and various documents you need to submit for a Green card application.

Many people find getting married and receiving a green card is a legal method that they can use when immigrating to the U.S. However, the marriage-based green card application procedure can be time-consuming and complicated.

You must present the relevant documents to ascertain an effective application for a marriage-based green card. We at UpCounsel are going to assist you with your application process by giving you the list of documents required for a green card application through marriage. You can also get in touch with an experienced immigration lawyer posting a job.

List of Documents for Green Card Through Marriage

Here is a list of the documents you need to apply for a marriage-based green card:

  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Financial documents
  • Proof of sponsor's U.S. citizenship or permanent residence
  • Proof of lawful U.S. entry and status, if applicable
  • Police clearance certificate, if applicable
  • Prior-marriage termination papers, if applicable
  • Court, police, and prison records, if applicable
  • Military records, if applicable
  • Immigration violation records, if applicable
  • Biographical and visa page of passport
  • Medical examination document

Birth Certificate

The birth certificate is a crucial document required when applying for a green card, and it is available in most countries. It is, therefore, important to submit your birth certificate, among other documents, when you are trying to get a green card through marriage. Your birth certificate should have your name, date of birth, place of birth, parent's name, and annotation from the relevant authority confirming that it is a copy from an official record. The birth certificate can be in English or the official language used by the country where the person was born.

Marriage certificate

A marriage certificate is another important document for your green card application through marriage. It is mandatory as it provides valid attestation that you are married and your marriage is bona fide. Like most of the certificates required to obtain a green card through marriage in the U.S., a marriage certificate attestation is a major factor in proving that your marriage is authentic.

When submitting Form I-130, the USCIS requires all spouses to include copies of their public or confidential marriage certificates. At the green card screening, one must also provide an original copy of the marriage certificate or an authorized replacement.

You will have already completed 60% of your marriage-based green card application process if you have your marriage certificate. However, do not panic if you do not have one, we at UpCounsel will guide you through the process of attaining your marriage certificate.

Financial documents

The U.S. Government is welcoming to immigrants, but it isn't looking for any freeloaders. Therefore, one must persuade authorities that they can sustain themselves or that you can count on your family or friends when applying for a marriage-based green card.

An individual must formally ascertain that they will be able to support themselves and their family throughout their stay in the United States; this is one of the key requirements for receiving a green card. A green card won't be granted if an individual is not able to provide such information.

Some of the information that you will need to include in your financial document include:

  • A personal bank statement showing the balance of savings and the period during which it was gathered,
  • Affirmation of the presence of (if any) additional revenue, and
  • Proof of owning assets or a property appraisal, as well as a source of income that can support their family for over 12 months.

Proof of Your Sponsor's U.S. Citizenship or Permanent residence

To get a marriage-based green card, your partner is required to provide the following documents to demonstrate in the application that they are a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident:

  • A reproduction of their birth certificate from a government agency.
  • A duplicate of their naturalization certificate from the INS or USCIS.
  • A copy of the form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, from an American embassy or consulate.
  • A duplicate of their valid U.S. passport.
  • A declaration in writing from a U.S. consular official confirming your spouse's citizenship and passport validity.
  • A duplicate of their permanent resident card, front, and back.
  • Copies of the biographic page of their passport, which demonstrates their admittance as a lawful permanent resident.

In a scenario where your partner is an American citizen but cannot find their official documents to prove that they are citizens, our attorneys can assist you through the various alternatives provided by the USCIS to verify their status. You can learn more in our guide about immigration attorney fees.

Proof of Lawful U.S. Entry and Status, If Applicable

You must demonstrate your eligibility if you are requesting a marriage-based green card in the U.S. Your travel documentation must confirm that you entered the U.S. legally and have kept your legal status (i.e., been recorded) while awaiting the outcome of your case to do. You must present your I-94 arrival/departure documentation at the immigration office.

Every foreign visitor to the U.S. receives the I-94 form from Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as verification that they were looked at when they entered the nation. You can obtain your form from the CBP page and complete it as required.

Police clearance certificate, if applicable

A police clearance certificate or a police certificate is a formal document produced after a background investigation by the police or other state agency to list any potential criminal histories the applicant could have. It is utilized by the responsible U.S. government agency in immigration-related requests to prevent possibly dangerous people from obtaining a green card and entering the country.

When applying for a marriage-based green card, you are supposed to present a police clearance certificate, one from each country or region (apart from the U.S.) where you have resided for at least six continuous months at any point after becoming 16 years old. Even if the applicant knows they do not possess any criminal history in their prior nations, it is irrelevant. The police certificate is still required.

Prior-Marriage Termination Papers, If Applicable

You and your spouse are supposed to provide official documents as proof that your previous marriages, if any, were legally terminated; This is only applicable if both spouses were once married. In that case, both of you are supposed to provide legal documents such as a death certificate, a decree of annulment, or a divorce decree. The present marriage cannot be validated if the previous marriage had not been legally terminated.

Court, Police, and Prison Records

If you are a spouse applying for a green card, you are required to present documentation of any prior run-ins with the law. These police records are distinct from police clearance certificates, which are only necessary for couples applying for a green card from outside the country or abroad, regardless of whether they have a record of prior issues with the law.  Obtaining court, police, and criminal data is covered in further detail by our firm.

You will probably need to present proof of the incident in case you have been detained or found guilty anywhere on the globe. It is important to acknowledge that even minor criminal records might devastate your marriage-based green card application process. Therefore, before filing your petition, we strongly advise you to speak with us because a criminal record could result in your application being rejected and deported.

Military Records, If Applicable

If a spouse has ever served in the army of any nation, including that of the United States, they must submit duplicates of their military documents while applying for a green card from overseas. Additional paperwork is necessary for partners who've already retired, been dismissed, resigned, or have faults on their records.

Immigration Violation Records, If Applicable

If your partner is applying for a green card and had previously been deported from the U. S., they are supposed to provide the government with a copy of their deportation record. The sort of offense that led to their deportation determines whether they qualify to apply for a marriage-based green card. Nonetheless, the procedure may be more challenging for most previously deported candidates.

The immigration court where their matter was heard is where they can get their deportation papers.

Biographical and Visa Page of Passport

The beneficiary must present a copy of both their passport's biographical (i.e., picture) page and the page with their most recent visa stamp. Other applicants, including most Canadians and ESTA participants, won't have a visa stamp, which is acceptable. Submit photocopies of those visa pages if the benefactor has traveled to the U.S. on other occasions to visit the petitioner. By doing this, the history of the couple's relationship can be preserved.

Medical Examination Document

You or your spouse must undergo a medical assessment from a licensed physician known as a "civil doctor."  Previously, the USCIS required applicants to submit their original packet's medical examination immediately. Thankfully, that is no longer the case. You may now take the exam to your readjustment interview. The best strategy for you primarily depends on the timing. It is smart to file it if you can finish the interview before your package is ready.

Additional Documents to Substantiate Your Relationship

The papers mentioned above are only the beginning of a petition for a change of status. Once you start to gather evidence to support the legitimacy of the relationship, the actual job starts. Whether you are engaging in a serious relationship worthy of a legitimate marriage is one of the major questions at the center of an adjustment claim. There are countless ways to document this, but these essential components will be employed in most scenarios. These documents are:

Shared Bank Statements

Most of the time, married couples split their bills and income equally. The USCIS will, therefore, anticipate discovering the couple's shared bank accounts. There is nothing unusual with the strategy used by some contemporary couples who opt to maintain their finances separate. However, if you have separate bank accounts, be prepared to discuss them with the USCIS or immigration official.

If you offer proof of joint accounts, it should demonstrate usage and clearly show that the accounts are used for monthly bills. Having a theoretically open account that is not being used is not helpful. Normally, the USCIS will require a bank account that has been shared for a minimum of six months.

Rental Receipts

Apartment managers might have reservations about including a foreign spouse in a lease contract. If so, ask if the spouse can be added to the list of permitted occupants. If not, you can alternatively ask the manager to write a letter on business letterhead stating that the pair are living together.

Other important documents that can be used to provide further proof that you and your partner are legitimately married include:

  • Auto insurance/registration indicating that both spouses are the owners
  • A driver's license
  • Wedding photographs and announcements
  • Joint credit card statements

You can contact UpCounsel in case you need any type of assistance when applying for a marriage-based green card. We can also assist you with the collection of the above documents.

FAQs About the Documents Needed for a Marriage Green Card

How long should you be married before applying for a green card?

The USCIS will give you a conditional marriage green card if you have been married for less than 24 months. However, you can apply for a permanent green card if you have been married for more than 24 months.

Do you need original documents for the green card interview?

Yes, you need your original documents during the interview. But, it's always advisable to have copies to avoid the inconvenience of having to duplicate them again once you are at the consulate or immigration offices.

How long does the green card interview take?

The green card interview will take between 15-20 minutes. However, the duration depends on the questioning immigration officer and your situation's complexity or ease.

What is the proof of marriage in the USA?

While there might be other necessary proofs of marriage in the U.S., a valid marriage certificate is the ultimate one.

How soon after we get married should we apply for an Adjustment of Status?

You will have a 90- day window after you have been married to apply for an adjustment of status.

If you need more information, UpCounsel attorneys are here to help you out. Our attorneys are reputable and highly experienced in immigration law and are available to answer any questions you have.

Please don't hesitate to contact us today to get started with your marriage-based green card application.