Happily Ever After and Permanent Residency: Your Marriage Green Card Checklist

February 3, 2024

Applying for a marriage green card, officially known as a Permanent Resident Card, through marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident involves several steps. Here’s a general overview of the process:


  • Eligibility: Ensure that you meet the eligibility requirements. Typically, you must be married to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident and your marriage must be legally recognized.


  • File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: The first step is for the U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse to file Form I-130 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form establishes the relationship between the petitioner and the foreign spouse.


  • Wait for Approval: Once USCIS approves the Form I-130, the case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing.


  • Complete Form DS-260 (For Immigrant Visa Applicants): If the foreign spouse is outside the U.S., they will need to complete Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application, through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website.


  • Attend Interview (If Applicable): If the foreign spouse is outside the U.S., they will attend an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country. If the foreign spouse is already in the U.S., they may have an interview as part of the adjustment of status process.


  • Submit Adjustment of Status Application (If Applicable): If the foreign spouse is already in the U.S., they may be eligible to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident without leaving the country. This involves filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with supporting documents.


  • Attend Biometrics Appointment: Both adjustment of status applicants and immigrant visa applicants may need to attend a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and signature.


  • Attend Green Card Interview: If required, attend an interview with USCIS to discuss your marriage and immigration case. This is to verify the validity of the marriage and ensure eligibility for the green card.


  • Receive Decision: After the interview or processing, USCIS will make a decision on the green card application.


  • Receive Green Card: If the application is approved, the foreign spouse will receive their green card in the mail. If outside the U.S., they will receive an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. and will receive the physical green card after arrival.


It’s important to note that the process may vary slightly based on individual circumstances and changes in immigration law or policy. It’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or use the resources provided by USCIS for the most up-to-date and accurate guidance. Learn more about marriage green card applications here.


How to Fill Out Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative – Step-By-Step Instructions


Filling out Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, requires careful attention to detail to ensure accuracy and completeness. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you fill out the form:


Step 1: Download the Form


  • Obtain the most recent version of Form I-130 from the official website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Step 2: Gather Required Documents


  • Before filling out the form, gather any necessary supporting documents such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, and evidence of legal name changes (if applicable).


Step 3: Provide Petitioner Information (Part 1)


  • Enter the petitioner’s information, including full name, mailing address, date of birth, country of birth, and citizenship or nationality.


Step 4: Provide Information About Your Alien Relative (Part 2)


  • Enter the beneficiary’s information, including full name, mailing address, date of birth, country of birth, and relationship to the petitioner.


Step 5: Additional Information About Your Alien Relative (Part 2)


  • Answer questions regarding the beneficiary’s marital history, immigration history, and previous visa petitions filed on their behalf (if applicable).


Step 6: Information About Your Marital History (Part 3)


  • If the petitioner is filing for a spouse, provide information about the petitioner’s marital history, including previous marriages and divorces.


Step 7: Information About Your Prior Petitions (Part 4)


  • Answer questions regarding any previous petitions filed by the petitioner for the same beneficiary or any other family members.


Step 8: Information About the Beneficiary’s Prior Petitions (Part 5)


  • Answer questions regarding any previous petitions filed for the beneficiary by other petitioners.


Step 9: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature (Part 6)


  • Provide contact information for both the petitioner and the preparer (if applicable).


  • Review the declaration and sign the form. By signing, you certify that the information provided is true and accurate to the best of your knowledge.


Step 10: Prepare Supporting Documents


  • Make copies of all required supporting documents, including identification, evidence of relationship, and any other relevant materials.


Step 11: Submit the Form


  • Mail the completed Form I-130 along with the required supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS address as indicated in the form instructions.


Step 12: Pay the Filing Fee


  • Include the appropriate filing fee with your application. Check the USCIS website for the current fee amount and acceptable payment methods.


Step 13: Await USCIS Notification


  • After submitting the form, USCIS will notify you of receipt and provide further instructions regarding processing and any additional steps required.


Additional Tips:


  • Follow the form instructions carefully to ensure compliance with USCIS requirements.


  • Double-check all information and supporting documents for accuracy and completeness before submission.


  • Keep copies of all documents and correspondence for your records.


  • If you have any questions or concerns, consider consulting with an immigration attorney for guidance.


By following these step-by-step instructions and carefully completing Form I-130, you can submit a thorough and accurate petition for your alien relative.


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