Spouse of a U.S. Citizen and Living in the U.S.

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
  • 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 

 

How To Properly File The Forms ?

  • Be organized
    • Use one folder per form
    • Gather all the original documents together
    • Start preparing your interview materials
  • Download my free checklists below
  • Never send cash with your application, the only accepted methods of payment are by personal check or money order made out to the Department of Homeland Security
  • How to file a question that doesn’t apply to your situation? Simply write down ‘N/A’, ‘None’ or leave it blank
  • Avoid using staples, paperclips are preferred
  • You do not need to pay a certified translator to translate your birth certificate. You can ask a friend to do it for you. As long as it’s not you or your close relative who translated the document, you will be fine.
  • Make copies of everything you send, including the check or money order. Keep all the original documents and always send copies. I really insist, do not send your or your spouse’s passport, birth certificate or any other original document.
  • Do not forget to include the I-693 Medical Exam, the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and the G-1145 Email/Text Notification forms along with the rest of the forms (the ones listed with the checklists)
  • Where should you send your Adjustment of Status package ? The answer is here

List Of Required Vaccinations

Here is the list of required vaccinations:

  • Mumps
  • Rubella
  • Measles
  • Polio
  • Tetanus and Diphtheria Toxoids
  • Pertussis
  • Influenza (only during flu season)
  • Hepatitis A and B
  • Varicella
  • Meningococcal bacteria
  • Pneumococcal bacteria
  • Rotavirus

 

Always double check on the USCIS website, as the list may change overtime.

 

What Makes You Inadmissible ?

Here is the list of what makes you inadmissible for the permanent residency:

 

  • You have a communicable disease
  • You have a physical or mental disorder
  • You have violated the immigration laws
  • You are using drugs
  • You have been convicted for a crime involving moral turpitude
  • You are likely to need government financial assistance
  • You have been convicted for two or more crimes, and your prison sentences total to at least 5 years.
  • You have participated in illicit drug trafficking
  • You have a history or the purpose of engaging in prostitution
  • One of your immediate relative has been involved in drug trafficking
  • You have committed espionage or sabotage
  • You are a nazi or involved with any nazi movement
  • You have entered the United States illegally
  • You have already been deported from the United States
  • You are married or you are living with more than one person at the same time
  • You are on a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor visa and are subject to the two-year home residency requirement.

 

Source:

– NOLO Fiancé & Marriage Visas book

– www.nolo.com

 

Where Should You Start ?

  • Are you eligible for the green card ?

The very first thing that is important is to know is if you are eligible for the green card.

If you have some health problems (usually communicable diseases), if you had criminal or security issues in the past, or if you have committed immigration violations, you may not be eligible for the green card.

Before we continue onto the next step, look at the list of what makes you inadmissible, click on the link bellow:

What Makes You Inadmissible ?

  • The medical exam

Then, you will have to pass a medical exam. Make sure you call at least 4 or 5 doctors or clinics in your area. You will see that some will charge you $500 while others will only ask for $100. No matter where you go, the medical exam will be the same !  The only thing that might change is that you will have to wait longer to get an appointment at cheaper locations, but that’s it.

Basically you will have to pass a VERY easy english comprehension test as well as a routine visit. You will also need to do a blood test, TB test and vaccines (if needed)

The medical exam must be completed by an authorized doctor from the government’s list. The medical visit is not covered by health insurances. Find an authorized doctor here

A quick tip: before you go for your medical exam, make sure you get all of the required vaccinations. You can go to your primary care doctor, and therefore use your insurance.   Once you have done the vaccinations, you can contact the USCIS approved doctor to make an appointment and provide him with your vaccine record.

For your information, the flu shot is only required during the flu season, which starts on October 1st and ends on March 31st each year. Therefore, if you do not want to get the flu shot, you will have to pass the medical exam outside this period of time.

Make sure you have your vaccine record from your home country. So you won’t have to do some vaccines twice.

Once you have completed your medical exam, the doctor will provide you with a sealed envelope. DO NOT OPEN IT ! You will have to send it sealed to the USCIS.

  • Start your adjustment of status package

Now that you have the envelope in hand, you are ready to start the adjustment of status package.

Get ready to file the forms properly, click here to know how to prepare your paperwork

  • You are a spouse of a U.S. citizen and you are living in the United States:

Click here

 

Where Should You Send Your Adjustment Of Status Package?

Depending on which service you use, you would have to send your AOS package at either:

 

  • For USPS deliveries:

USCIS

P.O. Box 805887

Chicago, IL 60680-4120

 

  • For private companies such as FedEx and UPS:

USCIS

Attn: FBAS

131 South Dearborn, 3rd Floor

Chicago, IL 60603-5157