Like I mentioned in Where Should You Start ? the first thing to know is if you entered the country legally.
You entered the country legally if you came:
- With a visa (J1, H-1B, L, O etc…)
- With a border crossing card (for Mexican residents)
- Under the Visa Waiver Program, or ESTA
Although, it’s good to precise one thing. If you got married under a tourist visa or ESTA, you may encounter issues throughout the process. It is not impossible, but it will be harder.
No matter how you entered the country (in a legal way), you will have to prove that you are in a bona fide marriage.
Even though there is no rule that says when you should send your AOS package, you should do it within 6 months after your wedding date to make sure the process will move on smoothly.
You do not have to leave the United States while waiting for your green card, even if your visa may be expired. The fact that you are married to a U.S. citizen protects you from being deported.
You need to know that if you got married less than 2 years ago, you will be granted a temporary green card (2 year validity). On the contrary, if you have been married for more than 2 years, you will be able to obtain the permanent green card (10 year validity).
If you have a 2-year validity green card, you will be able to renew it and obtain the 10-year validity one exactly 21 months after the issue date of your first green card. Do you follow me? For example, my green card was issued on November 5th, 2015. I will be able to renew it on August 5th, 2017.
Another important point that I would like to address before I move on to the list of paperwork that you will need to prepare, is that your spouse will have to meet the financial requirements, which means, he or she will have to make at least 125% above the poverty line. If your spouse is in the military, it will be 100%. Please refer to the 2017 Poverty Guidelines
Alright so let’s get started with the list of the forms and documents that you will need to send:
- Visa Petition
- Form I-130
- One passport style photo of you
- One passport style photo of your spouse
- Copy of the marriage certificate
- Copy of your spouse’s passport or birth certificate or certificate of naturalization
- Form I-130A Biographic Information filed by you
- Form I-130A Biographic Information filed by your spouse
- Application fees: $535
- Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- Form I-485
- Proof of your adjustment of status eligibility, including a copy of your passport, visa and I94
- Copy of your birth certificate with translation
- Two passport style photos of you
- Application fees: $1,225
- Affidavit of Support
- Form I-864 or I-864EZ
- Copy of your spouse or sponsor’s federal income tax transcripts for the last year, or a copy of the actual return with W-2
- Proof of sponsor’s current employment
- Copy of your sponsor’s pay stubs for the last 6 months
- List of assets with proof of ownership (optional)
- List of financial need-based public benefits programs and dates of receipt if used within the last 3 years
- Medical Exam
- Form I-693 form must be in a sealed envelope
- Advance Parole
- Form I-131
- Explanation letter showing the circumstances that warrant issuance of an Advance Parole Document
- Copy of your passport
- Two passport style photos of you
- Application for Employment Authorization
Where do I send my forms and documents? The answer is here
Remember: DO NOT SEND THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS