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When you apply for a green card based on your family relationship to a U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident, you will need to provide the U.S. government with documents to show that you are eligible.  Your immigration attorney will provide you with a detailed list of documents.  If you’d like to get a head start, below is a green card documents checklist. 

The first step is to provide evidence of your family relationship, which will accompany Form I-130.  The purpose of this form is to establish the relationship between you and your relative that is petitioning you to immigrate to the United States.  For example, if your U.S. citizen child is petitioning for you, you will need to prove your parent-child relationship.  This is often straightforward, as you can submit your child’s birth certificate listing your name as their parent. 

Similarly, if you are applying for a green card based on your marriage, you will need to prove to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that a family relationship exists between you and your spouse.  Here is a list of documents to establish your relationship:

  • Copy of your birth certificate.
  • Copy of the birth certificate for your spouse.
  • Copy of your marriage certificate.
  • Copy of divorce decree(s) if either you were or your spouse was previously married to show that your prior marriage(s) were legally terminated.
  • Copy of the naturalization certificate of the petitioner (if the petitioner is a naturalized U.S. citizen) or a copy of the petitioner’s Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551) (if the petitioner is a lawful permanent resident).

For marriage-based petitions, you will also have to prove to USCIS that your marriage is “bona fide” meaning that it is genuine and not solely for immigration purposes.  Although this may appear straightforward, it is still important to work with an experienced immigration attorney because meeting this legal standard can often be nuanced.  

Here is a list of documents that may help you prove that you have a bona fide marriage: 

  • Copy of the birth certificate(s) for children born to you and your spouse.
  • Wedding pictures, wedding invitations, etc.
  • Family photos showing you and your spouse (label with dates, names, location, etc.).
  • Mail received at home address in both of your names.
  • Documentation that you and your spouse have combined financial resources, such as: Copy of lease/mortgage with both of your names on it, copies of joint bank account statements, copies of any joint insurance policies (health, car, home, life etc.), joint credit cards or health cards. 

The second step is filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, which is the green card application.  In addition to the documentation listed above, you will also need to provide the following:

  • Proof that you were “admitted” or “paroled” into the United States: Passport page with admission or parole stamp (issued by a U.S. immigration officer); Passport page with nonimmigrant visa; or Form I-94 Arrival-Departure Record.
  • Your I-130 Form or a photocopy of Form I-797, Receipt Notice, for your immigrant petition.
  • Certified police and court records for any criminal charges, arrests, or convictions you may have.
  • Your Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Tax Return Transcript for the most recent filing year. (Information on obtaining the Tax Return Transcripts from the IRS is available online here, by calling 1-800-908-9946, or at most local IRS offices.)

Please remember, if you submit a document with information in a foreign language, you must also submit a full English translation with a certification that the English language translation is complete and accurate, and that translator is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.  Check with your immigration attorney to see if their office will translate the documents for you or refer you to a translation service. 

Because applying for your green card can be a complicated process, it is highly recommended that you make an appointment with an experienced immigration attorney to discuss your case.  Click here to contact Cynthia V. De Los Santos to make an appointment and discuss your case.


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