What Documents Should I Include in My Green Card Filing?

What Documents Should I Include in My Green Card Filing?

If you are recently married or engaged to a U.S. citizen, the green card application process can seem overwhelming. You may have questions about how long the process will take and how likely you are to have your application approved. While every couple’s situation is different, in this post, I will walk you through what you will need for your green card filing so you can start compiling the documentation you’ll need as soon as possible.

United States immigration law allows for a U.S. citizen to petition for a green card for a spouse who is already in the U.S., for a spouse who is outside the U.S. or for a fiancé to obtain a visa to travel to the U.S. to seek admission with a green card. 

Right now, it takes about 6 to 12 months for USCIS to approve a green card for a spouse in the U.S. and about one year for USCIS, the National Visa Center and then the U.S. Embassy to approve to a fiancé visa or spouse visa from outside the U.S. as of 2019 and an additional one to two years to get the U.S. green card. 

The documents you include will vary based on your specific circumstances. To start preparing your application, you will need to gather:

  • The spouse’s foreign birth certificate
  • Your fiancé or spouse’s U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport or green card
  • Marriage certificate (if married) or proof of intent to marry
  • Previous marriage termination documents
  • Proof that your marriage/relationship is real, like joint bank account statements, a joint lease agreement, photos together, and letters of support from family and friends
  • Court, police, or prison records. You will need to provide information about any interaction you’ve had with law enforcement, whether in the U.S. or abroad, even if the case was “dismissed”
  • Government filing fees and passport-style photographs

Never include fake or altered documents. Pay attention to details on the documents–do not include documents that will hurt, rather than help your case. 

I recommend that all applicants consult with me or another immigration attorney before filing any application, even if you ultimately decide to file without the representation of a lawyer. I work with clients from all around the U.S. and the world to make this process less confusing and as efficient as possible.

Some issues that may make it more difficult or even impossible for certain immigrants to get spouse visas. For example, criminal issues, misuse of visas, fraud or misrepresentation, unauthorized time in the U.S., and deportation/removal from the U.S. may change the spouse’s eligibility for the green card.