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What Supporting Documents Do You Need for a U.S. Marriage Green Card?

In a Nutshell

U.S. citizens and permanent residents can sponsor their spouse for a marriage green card. They and their spouse will need to submit certain documents to the U.S. government when they apply. The application process and documents you will need are different when the spouse seeking a green card is living inside of the United States (adjustment of status) and when they are living outside of the United States (consular processing). This guide will serve as a document checklist for both processes.

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated May 26, 2022


Documents That All Marriage Green Card Applicants Will Need

All applicants seeking a marriage green card will need to submit the following supporting documentation with their Forms I-130 and I-864 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Supporting Documentation for Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative 

When filing Form I-130, you must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or green card (lawful permanent residence) status

    • For U.S. citizens: U.S. birth certificate, valid U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, or consular report of birth abroad

    • For green card holders (lawful permanent residents): green card or a passport issued in another country and bearing a stamp of temporary permanent residency in the U.S.

  • Proof of valid marriage: marriage certificate and (if applicable) a joint lease, bank account, or photos together

  • Proof of termination of prior marriage (if applicable): divorce decree, spouse’s death certificate, or certificate of annulment 

  • Proof of official name change (if applicable): marriage certificate, court order of name change, or adoption papers

  • Two passport-style photos of the petitioner: The photos must be 2 by 2 inches and are in addition to any passport photos required by other forms you are filing at the same time as your I-130

Supporting Documentation for Form I-864: Affidavit of Support

When filing Form I-864, the sponsoring spouse, as well as any co-sponsors, must provide proof of their ability to financially support the foreign spouse seeking a permanent resident green card, also known as a beneficiary. At minimum, the sponsoring spouse needs to submit a copy of their most recent U.S. tax return. It could also be helpful to include any of the following if you have them:

  • Copies of your U.S. federal income tax returns from the past 3 years

  • Pay stubs from the past 6 months

  • Letter from your employer showing proof of employment

If you, the sponsor, are counting your assets to meet the income requirement for a marriage-based green card, you need to provide proof of asset value. Provide documentation from the list or lists that apply to you below.

Bank/Investment Accounts

When using your bank or investment accounts as proof, you must provide the following documents:

  • Ownership documents of stocks, bonds, certificates of deposit (CDs), or other investment accounts

  • Bank statements

Home

When using your home as proof, you must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of ownership (such as title or deed)

  • A recent appraisal by a licensed appraiser

  • A recent tax assessment

  • Evidence of the amount of every loan secured by a mortgage, trust deed, or other lien on the home

Second Vehicle

When using your second vehicle as proof, you must provide the following documents:

  • An ownership document (such as title or deed) for all of your vehicles

  • A recent appraisal by a licensed appraiser or a statement from the dealer indicating the current value

Documents That You Need for the Adjustment of Status Process 

If the beneficiary is already living inside the U.S., then they will be applying for a marriage green card via the adjustment of status process. Keep reading for information about the necessary documentation for Form I-495 and three other forms often filed simultaneously: Form I-765, Form I-131, and Form I-944. 

Supporting Documentation for Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

The beneficiary seeking the green card (permanent resident status) must provide the following alongside their Form I-485

  • Proof of nationality: birth certificate from another country or a passport issued by another country

  • Proof of lawful U.S. entry and status: valid U.S. (non-immigrant) visa and valid I-94 travel document

  • Proof of medical exam and required vaccines: Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record (this form can also be submitted later, either by mail to USCIS or in person at your green card interview)

  • Records of any previous interactions with law enforcement (if applicable): records from the court, police, or jail/prison involved

  • Records of any previous immigration violations (if applicable): deportation documents and other records of run-ins with immigration officials

  • Two passport-style photos of the beneficiary: The photos must be 2 inches by 2 inches and are in addition to any passport photos required by other forms you are filing at the same time as your I-485

Supporting Documentation for Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization Document

The beneficiary seeking the green card (permanent resident status) must provide the following with Form I-765 if they are also applying for work authorization:

  • Proof of lawful U.S. entry and status: I-94 travel records, valid U.S. visa, or a passport issued in another country

  • Proof of pending marriage green card application: If you’re not filing I-765 concurrently with your I-130, then you need to provide the I-130 receipt notice (Form I-797C: Notice of Action) you received from USCIS

  • Proof of previous U.S. work authorization or nationality:

    • If the beneficiary has received a work permit in the past, provide that permit

    • If the beneficiary has never received a work permit, then submit a birth certificate and photo ID or a visa issued by the beneficiary’s home country or other national identity document with photo or fingerprint ID 

  • Two passport-style photos of the beneficiary: The photos must be 2 inches by 2 inches and are in addition to any passport photos required by other forms you are filing at the same time as your I-765

Supporting Documentation for Form I-131: Application for Travel Document

If the beneficiary is applying for an advance parole travel permit, they must provide the following documents:

  • Proof of identity: passport, current work permit (if available), and valid government-issued driver’s license that has their name, date of birth, and photo

  • Proof of current immigration status: valid U.S. visa or any other document issued by USCIS showing present status in the U.S.

  • Proof of pending marriage-based green card application: If you’re not filing your I-131 concurrently with your I-130, then you need to provide the I-130 receipt notice (Form I-797C: Notice of Action) you received from USCIS

  • Two passport-style photos of the beneficiary: The photos must be 2 inches by 2 inches and are in addition to any passport photos required by other forms you are filing at the same time as your I-131

Supporting Documentation for Form I-944: Declaration of Self-Sufficiency

To complete the I-944, also referred to as a public charge form, the beneficiary (spouse seeking green card) must provide substantial documentation proving their ability to provide for themselves.

Proof of Income

The applicant and any other household member whose income is being considered must include their IRS tax return transcripts for the most recent tax year. Other documentation is also required if any of the following situations applies to you or a household member whose income is being considered: 

  • If you lived outside of the U.S. and did not file a U.S. tax return for the most recent tax year: foreign tax transcripts for the most recent year 

  • If you were not required to file taxes in the last three years: W-2 or Social Security statement

  • If you received income not listed on your U.S. or non-U.S. tax transcripts: evidence of the non-taxable income, such as unemployment benefit documents, child support records, or pension/retirement benefit documents

Proof of Assets (If Applicable)

This type of supporting documentation is only required if you are claiming your assets as proof of your self-sufficiency. If you are claiming homeownership, then you must provide the following:

  • Deeds or other evidence of your ownership

  • A recent appraisal by a licensed appraiser

  • Evidence of any mortgages or loans secured against the home

For any other type of asset, provide the following: 

  • Proof of ownership for bank accounts, stocks, retirement accounts, or financial instruments

  • Proof of ownership and valuations for any other easily liquidated assets

  • Account statements covering the prior 12 months for any checking or savings account

Proof of Liabilities and Debts (If Applicable)

All applicants and their household members must provide evidence for each debt or liability. This includes mortgages, car loans, unpaid taxes or child support, or credit cards. You can do so by providing the following:

  • Contracts or loan agreements

  • Account statements

  • Letters from financial institutions or government agencies

  • Evidence of bankruptcy resolution, court papers, or other documentation showing that any prior bankruptcies have been fully resolved (if applicable)

Proof of Good Credit

Applicants that already have a U.S. credit score must include a free credit report from one of the three nationwide reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, Experian). If there is an error in your report, you must provide proof that you have notified the agency of the error and that it is being investigated.

Applicants that do not already have a U.S. credit score must provide documentation from one of the three U.S. credit bureaus confirming that no report or credit score is available. In addition, you should provide any other documentation that shows evidence of your financial responsibility for recurring bills. The following are examples:

  • Account ledgers

  • Bills and receipts

  • Any other record showing a history of payments made on time  

Proof of Ability To Pay for Medical Treatment

Applicants with medical insurance should provide proof by including the following documents:

  • A full copy of a health insurance policy, detailing the type of coverage and individuals covered

  • A letter from an insurance company confirming your enrollment and detailing the type of coverage

  • A copy of IRS Form 1095-B or 1095-C confirming your health coverage

Note that your health insurance card is not enough for proof unless it is marked with your policy’s effective and expiration dates. Additional documentation for applicants with medical insurance includes records of annual deductibles and premiums or documentation showing the policy’s expiration or renewal date.

Applicants that used Affordable Care Act tax credits for health insurance coverage must provide:

  • A transcript copy of IRS Form 8963: Report of Health Insurance Provider Information

  • A transcript copy of IRS Form 8962: Premium Tax Credit

  • A copy of Form 1095-A: Health Insurance Marketplace Statement

Applicants whose insurance plan has not started yet should provide details of their pending coverage, such as a letter from the health insurance company showing an enrollment date, or future enrollment date, for an insurance policy. This letter must include the following:

  • Terms of the policy

  • Type of coverage

  • Individuals covered

  • Policy start date

Applicants with medical conditions that will affect their ability to work, attend school, or provide care for themselves must include:

  • A letter from a doctor regarding the condition, prognosis, and ability to work or study

  • A letter from other medical specialists regarding the condition

  • Additional evidence that the applicant has the resources to pay for medical treatment

Evidence Regarding the Use of Public Benefits (If Applicable)

There are a wide variety of situations where you may need to provide supporting documentation for the use of public benefits. If any of the following applies to you, then provide the corresponding listed documents:

  • If you have sought or received any public benefits: a letter or other document from the benefit-granting agency containing your name, the agency’s name, the type of benefit, and the start and end date of the benefit

  • If you have unenrolled from benefits or withdrawn an application for a public benefit: evidence documenting the unenrollment or withdrawal or the agency’s receipt of the applicant’s request to unenroll or withdraw

  • If you are a service member who is exempt from public benefit receipt consideration: evidence of military service from the authorizing official of the service member’s executive department

  • If you are a spouse and/or dependent of a service member who is exempt from public benefit receipt consideration: Form DD-1173, U.S. Uniformed Services Identification and Privilege Card – Dependent

  • If you are the recipient of federally funded Medicaid benefits who is exempt from public benefit receipt consideration: 

    • A statement showing that treatment was due to an emergency medical condition

    • Documentation that it was funded through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or a school-based service, or

    • A letter from a medical professional verifying that the recipient is pregnant and stating the duration of the pregnancy

  • If you are the child of a U.S. citizen who is exempt from public benefit receipt consideration: evidence that the recipient is the child of U.S. citizens and eligible for citizenship

  • If you are exempt from public benefit receipt consideration for any other reason not already listed: 

    • Form I-797A: Notice of Action or Form I-94: Arrival/Departure Record confirming the recipient’s exempt immigration status

    • Official documentation showing that the recipient received a waiver of public charge inadmissibility

  • If you don’t qualify for public benefits due to income level, immigration status, or some other reason: an official notification of your ineligibility from a government body

Evidence Regarding Fee Waivers (If Applicable)

Applicants who have formerly received or sought waivers of immigration filing fees should provide any documents or evidence showing that their circumstances have changed since requesting a fee waiver. This includes: 

  • Pay slips

  • Employment contracts

  • Health records

Evidence of Care-Taking Duties (If Applicable)

Applicants who are unable to work because they are the primary caretaker of a child or an elderly or disabled person should provide evidence that:

  • The applicant is the primary caretaker

  • The individual being cared for lives with the applicant

    • Evidence includes a shared lease or financial or medical documents showing their address

  • The individual requires care due to their age or a medical condition 

Evidence Regarding Education

All applicants with educational degrees should provide the following:

  • Transcripts

  • Diploma

  • Degree certificate

If no documentation is available, you should attach a letter from the educational institution explaining the absence of other evidence.

Evidence Regarding Occupational Skills

All applicants with occupational skills or training should provide the following:

  • Training certificates

  • Professional licenses

  • Documentation of apprenticeships or other qualifications in skilled trades

If no other documentation is available, you should attach a letter from the educational institution explaining the absence of other evidence.

Evidence of Foreign Education or Training

Applicants with foreign education or training must provide a formal evaluation of equivalency comparing foreign educational achievements to a U.S. education or degree.

Evidence of English Proficiency

All applicants should provide evidence of language training or proficiency, in both English and native language. This can include the following:

  • Transcripts showing language or literacy classes

  • High school diploma or college degree

  • Certificate showing current or completed language classes

Conclusion

Applying for a marriage green card can be complicated, but help is available. If you are eligible, our free web app will walk you through the green card process and help you prepare and file your application with the U.S. government. If our app isn’t a good fit, you can take advantage of our Ask an Attorney program to speak with an immigration attorney for just $24/month. Click "Get Started" to see how we can help make your American dream come true!


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