How Do I Get My Spouse or Parents a Green Card?

Of the many situations that come up often in immigration applications, the following is one of the more common ones: A U.S. citizen is looking to obtain a green card for either his/her spouse or parent(s), and needs a little assistance.

Now obviously a current green card holder is able to apply for a green card on behalf of spouse or parents as well, but the road to approval for that is much longer and more difficult, and it is actually quite a bit less common, so this entry will be focused on how a U.S. citizen should go about handling this situation.

It is also important that the spouse or parent(s) have an interview in the U.S. While it is possible to have an interview at a U.S. embassy in another country, it is far more common to have the interview on U.S. mainland soil, so we will assume that is the case here as well.

In order to get the process started, here is a list of all the documents that the current U.S. citizen will have to procure (you can get them all at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website uscis.gov):

Forms that must be signed by the U.S. citizen:

  • Form I-130
  • Form G-325A
  • Form I-864 plus the last 3 years’ tax returns for the U.S. citizen doing the filing

Forms that need to be signed by the spouse or parents:

  • Form I-485
  • Form I-765 for a work card
  • Form I-131 for travel papers
  • Form G-325A – this is more or less the same form, but different information is requested.
  • Form I-508 IF the spouse or parents ever had an E visa up to this point.

In addition to those forms, the following things need to be included in the application as well:

  • A check for the current filing fees, which have been known to change frequently, but are usually around $1,400. The application and the USCIS website will both state the exact dollar amount, so make sure you keep track of it
  • Proof of current U.S. citizenship – copy of the filer’s birth certificate or passport, which must be current
  • A photocopy of the U.S. citizen or spouse’s  divorce certificate, if any.  Please keep in mind that this does not apply if the U.S. citizen is filing on behalf of their parents
  • A photocopy of the U.S. citizen’s and spouse’s  marriage license, which again, is not required if the filing is being done on behalf of the filer’s parents
  • If the filer is sponsoring their parents, then instead of marriage/divorce licenses, they will need to provide proof that the U.S. citizen is a child of the parents. Generally the citizen’s birth certificate is enough proof for this step
  • A copy of the spouse or parent’s birth certificate with an English translation, if necessary
  • Valid proof that spouse or parents are legally in the U.S.  This is usually a copy of I-94, visa stamp, I-20 and optional practical training (OPT) card if in the U.S. as a student
  • 4 passport style (and approved) pictures of the U.S. citizen and 8 of their spouse or parents, and finally
  • The spouse or citizen’s medical exam results on the appropriate form(s) from a doctor currently on the list of approved doctors

Please remember that the locations for where to mail all of this information in may change frequently, so it is extremely important to check the application form as well as the USCIS website, for any changing instructions.

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