Marriage-Based Green Card

Adjustment of Status

What documents are needed for Adjustment of Status application?

Birth Certificate, Photos, Papers proving your marriage in good faith, medical examination report (I-693), tax return for the most recent year, passports and other documents in support of your marriage in good faith as follows;

Documents Needed in Support of Marriage Petition to Prove Bona Fides

To support the bona fides of your marriage, please provides as many of the following documents as possible:

  1. Copies of ownership papers for a jointly owned business, if applicable;
  2. Copy of joint lease/mortgage;
  3. Statements of Joint Bank Accounts;
  4. Copies of Joint Insurance Policies-auto or otherwise;
  5. Employer records showing the addition of a spouse to health insurance or other documentation showing that you shared or benefited from employee benefits available to supposes;
  6. Copies of vehicle titles showing joint ownership;
  7. Copies of utility bills in both names I.e. electric, phone, cable, water, cell phone, etc..;
  8. Copies of joint tax filings (you may request tax summaries directly from the IRS);
  9. Copies of joint credit card statements or individual credit statements sent to the same address;
  10. Birth Certificates of any children born to the marriage;
  11. Affidavits from any step children from the marriage discussing the marital relationship;
  12. School records or other information showing that you both were listed as parents of a child or step-child;
  13. Copies of telephone records highlighting calls to relatives;
  14. Receipts from purchase of wedding rings or gifts;
  15. Mail received that has both or one of your names with the same address;
  16. Copies of tickets or reservations for a trip that you have taken together;
  17. Photos of you together;
  18. Photos of you with the other’s family (if applicable);
  19. Correspondence between the two of you, including email or message left for each other at the marital residence;
  20. Correspondence from family members (greeting cards or letters);
  21. Wills and trusts listing the spouse as a beneficiary;
  22. Hotel records or other travel records;
  23. Video rental records showing joint accounts;
  24. Membership records (health club, AOL or other internet accounts) showing joint records;
  25. Church membership records or church directories showing that you attended church as a family;
  26. Prenuptial agreement;
  27. Cancelled checks on joint or separate checking accounts showing a sharing of household expenses;
  28. Love letters with envelops;
  29. Post cards sent to others; and
  30. Medical benefit letter from employer showing spouse as a beneficiary.
  31. Affidavits from at least two people who know of your relationship

 

Q & A

Q1. My spouse is staying illegally in the US, is s/he still eligible to apply? Maybe yes, if s/he entered the U.S legitimately and other conditions are met.  Immigration and Naturalization Act allows the out-of-status to apply for Adjustment of Status if they are Immediate Relative (spouse, children, parents) of a US citizen and entered the US legitimately for the first place.

Q2. How much do I have to earn to be financially eligible to support for LPR application for my spouse?             It depends on the numbers of your family and people form whom you have sponsored so far.  You need to meet the 125 % of Federal Poverty Line corresponding to the numbers of your household and people you have sponsored.

Q3. Who can be a Joint Sponsor for me?   A joint sponsor must be either Lawful Permanent Resident or a US citizen who can prove to have income sufficient to support your application.  The same rule applies for determining amount for eligibility as a joint sponsor.

Q4. How does Adjustment of Status work?


The U.S. Department of State’s 90-Day Rule

DOS developed a 90-day “rule” to assist consular officers in evaluating willful misrepresentation in cases involving an applicant who violated his or her nonimmigrant status or whose conduct is inconsistent with representations made to either the consular officer at the time of the visa application or to the immigration officer at the port of entry. The DOS 90-day rule creates a presumption of willful misrepresentation if an applicant engages in such conduct within 90 days of admission to the United States.


Consular Processing

If you are already married to a US citizen, but you are currently outside the U.S., you will have to apply for an Immigrant visa at US embassy in the country where you are now.

Procedure for visa application at an US embassy in a foreign country (Consular Processing)

Step 1) A Petitioner:  an U.S Citizen spouse / Relative

Your US citizen spouse must file an Immigration Petition for you with United State Citizenship and Immigration Services in the U.S.  Once it is approved, your case will be transferred to National Visa Center and eventually to the US embassy in the country where you are residing now.

Step 2) National Visa Center

Once USCIS approves the Immigration Petition filed on behalf of you, they notify to National Visa Center for the next step.  You should submit DS260 to National Visa Center and other supporting documents such as your passport, birth certificate, affidavit of financial support, police certificate and others requested.

Step 3) Interview at an US embassy – Beneficiaries/Visa applicants

When your DS260 application is completed, National Visa Center send you a notification for interview at US embassy in the country where you indicated on your application to reside.  The notification includes the interview date, time and location.  Once you received the notification, you must register your visa interview online with the specific US embassy.

Your should bring Copy of your DS 260 Submit Confirmation Sheet, Interview Notification mail (or e-mail), medical examination result, and other documents specified to bring with you in the notification.  If you successfully complete the interview, they will issue you an Immigrant Visa.  The visa usually is valid for six months from the date of interview.


K-3 Visa (Non-immigrant Visa)

You are married to a US citizen, but currently outside the U.S

he K-3 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign-citizen spouse of a United States (U.S.) citizen. This visa category is intended to shorten the physical separation between the foreign-citizen and U.S. citizen spouses by having the option to obtain a nonimmigrant K-3 visa overseas and enter the United States to await approval of the immigrant visa petition. 

K-3 visa recipients subsequently apply to adjust status to a permanent resident (LPR) with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) upon approval of the petition. Because the spouse of a U.S. citizen applying for a nonimmigrant K-3 visa must have a immigrant visa petition filed on his or her behalf by his or her U.S. citizen spouse and pending approval, a K-3 applicant must meet some of the requirements of an immigrant visa. It should be noted that under U.S. immigration law, a foreign citizen who marries a U.S. citizen outside the U.S. must apply for the K-3 visa in the country where the marriage took place.

 

Comparison of K visas

Type of K visa Petitioner Beneficiary/Visa Applicants Documents to be filed
K1 US citizen Fiancé(e) Foreign national fiancé(e) I-129 F, DS-160 and I-1485 and others
K2 Children of K1 applicant
K3 US citizen spouse Foreign national spouse I-130 and I-129F, DS-160 and I-485 and others
K4 Children of K3 applicant

Not Married Yet? (K1 Visa: Fiancé Visa)

What document you will need to file K1 visa application?

Petition for an alien fiancé

During this stage, USCIS will want to see who you are and who your fiancé is.  Therefore, the US citizen petitioner’s birth certificate, US passport (if available), the foreign-national fiance’s passport, birth certificate and foremost importantly, proof that you and your fiancé have met in person within last two years.

Wedding has to occur within 90 days from the date you entered the U.S in K1 visa
Upon your arrival to the US in K1 visa, you have only 90 days to legally married to the US spouse.  Formal wedding ceremony is not required in every case, but you must register your marriage and apply for marriage certificate within the 90 days-time window. Otherwise, you will have to leave for your country.


List of Documents Needed For The Process of Application Of K1/K2

• Proof of citizenship for the U.S. citizen fiancé(e)
• Copy of sponsored fiancé(e)’s passport
• Evidence of terminated marriages, where needed
• Proof of meeting within 2 years of applying
• Evidence of legal name change, where applicable
• Sworn statements and evidence from both partners indicating their intent to marry and attesting to the legitimacy of their relationship
• A copy of Form I-94 arrival-departure records, if applicable for sponsored fiancé(e)
• Evidence supporting International Marriage Broker Regulation Act (IMBRA) waiver, if applicable
• One passport-style photo for each fiancé(e)
• Two passport-style photos for the sponsored fiancé(e)
• Birth certificate for the sponsored fiancé(e)
• Valid, unexpired passport for sponsored fiancé(e)
• Police clearance obtained from countries where the sponsored fiancé(e) lived for more than 6 months, including their country of residence
• Sealed medical exam issued by approved physician, obtained by sponsored fiancé(e) in their country of residence
• Affidavit of Support (Form I-134), submitted by U.S. citizen fiancé(e)
• Most recent tax returns of the U.S. citizen fiancé(e)

 

Marriage while you are in Removal Proceeding

While you were already placed in Removal proceeding, you can still apply for Lawful Permanent Residence if you are married to a US citizen spouse.  Caveat, however, once you are in removal proceeding and get married to a US citizen, you must prove that your marriage is done in good faith, not just to avert immigration proceeding against you.

Filing of Immigration Petition (I-130)

Even while your removal hearing is pending at an immigration court, your US citizen spouse can file an immigration petition on behalf of you with USCIS.  Unlike an ordinary immigration petition, however, this type of petition will require the both of petitioner and beneficiary to be present for an interview at USCIS field office for the adjudication.

Motion for Administrative Closure or Prosecutorial Discretion

Depending on situation, an attorney can file motion to administratively close the case for you in your removal proceeding.  If granted, you can have more time to stay in the United States.

Motion to Re-calendar or Termination

If your removal proceeding is administratively closed, you need to reopen the case at immigration court by jointly filing motion with the district attorney to re-calendar the case back on the active docket.  Once the case is re-open, your attorney will ask the immigration judge to terminate the case so that you can continue to file an application for Adjustment of Status with USCIS.

Filing of Adjustment of Status with USCIS (I-485)

Once your case is terminated, you can file Adjustment of Status with USCIS just as you would do in other ordinary cases.


How to Get a Same-Sex Marriage Green Card – Sponsoring Your Partner

The United States is one of 31 countries in the world that legally recognizes same-sex couples, which means that all legal processes apply to same-sex and heterosexual marriages equally. When it comes to immigration, same-sex couples can use the same channel as heterosexual couples to obtain Lawful Permanent Residence. That process starts with the I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative. Once the petition is approved, then spouse may adjust their status to Permanent Residence. Spouses residing abroad may obtain a visa for entry through the National Visa Center to join the petitioning spouse in America.

Navigating this process can be complex, and there are some obstacles that some same-sex couples may face while applying. Check out this overview of the process and helpful pointers on how to submit the strongest petition for residency.

Are We Eligible?

Just like heterosexual couples, same-sex couples must be legally married – either in the United States or another country that recognizes same-sex marriages. The petitioning spouse must be a citizen or legal resident of the United States married to the beneficiary, who is either legally residing in the United States on an immigrant visa or residing abroad.

Unfortunately, civil unions or unions in countries that do not recognize same-sex marriages are not considered marriages for the purpose of a marriage visa. An alternative option for couples in these situations is the K-1 visa, also called the fiancé visa. A fiancé visa allows a couple legally marries within 90 days of approval of the visa to apply for an Adjustment of Status afterwards. Consult with a qualified attorney about your situation to determine what visa is the most appropriate for your situation.

What Documentation Do We Need?

A key step in the process is establishing your identity and marriage through documentation. The essential documents are a birth certificate, photographs, proof of marriage, a medical examination of the applicant, recent tax returns, a passport, and documentation of a bona fide marriage.

Documentation of a bona fide marriage shows that the application has been submitted in good faith based on a real marriage. It includes but is not limited to joint leases, joint bank accounts, joint insurance policies, utility bills under both names, joint tax filings, joint credit card statements, copies of correspondence through text message or letter, mail addressed to both names, photos of the couple, and affidavits from people who can attest to your relationship.

For same-sex couples, it may be challenging to gather documentation to prove a bona fide marriage. For couples who cannot live together out of fear of discrimination, gathering proof is not an easy task because having the same address is a requirement for many of the documents. Additionally, some couples may not have a relationship with disapproving relatives, making proof of the relationship appear weaker. If you are in this situation, there are a variety of ways to prove that you are in a bona fide marriage. Discuss your application with an immigration lawyer to identify what documents you should include.

What About the Final Interview?

At the final step of the process, the interview with the USCIS officer, some couples express concern that they will face discrimination. Immigration officers undergo thorough training to ensure that they treat each applicant fairly, and the officers are aware of the challenges that same-sex couples face. The best policy is to be honest and transparent during your interview to ensure that the officer understands your situation fully.