Building a Life Together: A Spouse’s Guide to U.S. Living

If you are married to a U.S. citizen and living in the U.S., you may be eligible to apply for a green card through a process called “adjustment of status.” Here are the general steps you would typically follow:

Understand Eligibility:

Ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for a green card through marriage. Generally, you must be legally married to a U.S. citizen, and your spouse must be willing to sponsor you.

File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative:

Your U.S. citizen spouse needs to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf. This form establishes the qualifying relationship. Include all required supporting documents and the appropriate filing fee.

Wait for I-130 Approval:

Once the I-130 is filed, you’ll need to wait for USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) to process and approve the petition. This process can take several months.

File Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status:

After the I-130 is approved, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is the actual application for a green card.

Complete Biometrics Appointment:

USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment where they will take your fingerprints and photograph. This information is used for background checks.

Attend an Interview:

USCIS may schedule an interview to assess the validity of your marriage and to ensure that you meet all the eligibility requirements. Attend the interview with all necessary documentation.

Receive a Decision:

After the interview, USCIS will make a decision on your application. If approved, you will receive your green card. If there are any issues, you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE) or be asked to provide additional documentation.

Conditional Permanent Residence (if applicable):

If you have been married for less than two years at the time of approval, you will be granted conditional permanent residence. You will need to file Form I-751 to remove the conditions within the 90-day period before the conditional green card expires.

Receive the Permanent Green Card:

If you successfully complete the conditional green card period, you will be eligible to receive a permanent green card.

Learn more about the marriage green card application process.

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Marriage Green Card Checklist – Both Spouses in the U.S.

When applying for a marriage-based green card with both spouses in the U.S., there are several documents and forms you’ll need to prepare. Here’s a general checklist to guide you through the process:

For the U.S. Citizen Spouse:

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship:
    • Copy of U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, or Certificate of Citizenship.
  • Proof of Marriage:
    • Marriage certificate.
    • Any other evidence proving the authenticity of the marriage (photos, joint bank accounts, etc.).
  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative:
    • Completed and signed by the U.S. citizen spouse.
    • Filing fee.
    • Supporting documents (marriage certificate, proof of citizenship, etc.).

For the Foreign Spouse (Applicant):

    • Passport:
      • Copy of the biographical page and any U.S. visa pages.
    • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status:
      • Completed and signed by the foreign spouse.
      • Filing fee.
      • Supporting documents (birth certificate, passport, etc.).
    • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record:
      • Completed by a designated civil surgeon after a medical examination.
    • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support:
      • Completed and signed by the U.S. citizen spouse.
      • Supporting documents (proof of income, tax returns, etc.).
    • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (optional):
      • If the foreign spouse wants to work while the green card application is pending.
    • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (optional):
      • If the foreign spouse needs to travel outside the U.S. while the green card application is pending.
    • Evidence of Continuous Residence:
      • Proof that the foreign spouse has been continuously residing in the U.S. (rental agreements, utility bills, etc.).
    • Proof of Legal Entry:
      • Copy of the foreign spouse’s I-94 Arrival/Departure Record.
    • Biometric Appointment Notice:
      • Notification from USCIS regarding the biometric appointment.
    • Photographs:
      • Passport-style photos of the foreign spouse as per USCIS specifications.
    • Marriage Termination Documents (if applicable):
  • If either spouse was previously married, provide divorce decrees or death certificates.

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Additional Tips:

  • Make sure all forms are properly signed and dated.
  • Check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date versions of the forms.
  • Keep copies of everything you submit.
  • Respond promptly if USCIS requests additional documentation.
  • Attend any required interviews or appointments.

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