If you would like to handle your application yourself, read on and I hope this will be helpful to you. These instructions are probably most helpful to those of you who are in a similar situation to what I was in when I started the application process, i.e-
1. You are in the US legally and have not overstayed (I don’t know how overstaying affects your application; I was on a H1-B).
2. You are marrying a US citizen, and this is a legitimate marriage.
3. You want to adjust your status to become a GC holder.
With a little modification, I am sure you can use these instructions even if your situation is somewhat different from that described above (applying for parents etc).
These instructions are NOT the official how-to guide, and I am not a qualified attorney, so these instructions should not be taken as legal counsel. That said, I think that the process of applying for a Green Card (GC) through marriage to a US citizen (USC) might look complicated at first, but is fairly simple for someone of average intelligence. I managed just fine on my own and so far my process has been going quite smoothly, I have not had any RFE’s (Request For Evidence) so far although it is very early in the game.
Keep in mind that if you are just starting today, this whole process will take you about 3-4 weeks, so be prepared. It takes time to get all the required documentation together, and to proof read and check and re-check (what an attorney would hopefully do for you) everything before mailing it.
These are the forms you/your spouse will need to file:
Your USC Spouse files:
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (your spouse files this); fee at this time is $355, click to see most current filing fee, download form and instructions.
You (the GC applicant) file:
I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (this is your main application form); fee at this time is $1010, click to see most current filing fee, download form and instructions.
Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to be filed with your I-485 (this has to be filled out by your civil surgeon. If you have had the BCG vaccination, your TB test will most probably be positive, so ask for a chest x-ray at the same time to save time if it is not suggested). This will take about 3-4 days and probably cost between $160-220 depending on your doctor, find an approved doctor here
to download form and instructions.
Affidavit of Support, to be filled out by your spouse and/or another sponsor, filed with your I-485. Check instructions to see if you can use the I-864EZ instead, it is shorter. Make sure you qualify for it. Click
to download form and instructions.
I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (this is your ‘work permit’ and is optional, although most people file it); fee is $0 if you file with your I-485 or after your I-485 has been received by USCIS, click to download form and instructions.
I-131, Application for Travel Document (this is your advance parole application, if you want to travel before you have your green card in your passport/in your hand, also optional), fee is $0 if you file with your I-485 or after your I-485 has been received by USCIS, click to download form and instructions.
G-325A, Biographic Information. Fill out 2 copies for the applicant and 1 for the USC spouse, 1 for each goes with I-130 and 2nd applicant form goes with I-485. Click to download form and instructions.
Passport photos- You will need about 7 for the applicant and 1 for the USC spouse, get extras in case you mess up.
My suggestions on how to do this:
- Print out all the forms and instructions from the USCIS website, make sure you are filing close to when you print- check the version date and make sure it is the most recent or acceptable.
- Read the instructions, highlighting what else you need to send along with the form. Make sure you are sending enough documents from each required category.
- Make a list of all these items, and get them together.
- Fill out all the forms, sign and date them.
- Organize each application separately; do not send any original documents other than the forms unless specifically asked to do so.
- Print out cover letters for each application, this will also serve as checklists for yourself. I have attached the templates I used at the bottom. It is YOUR responsibility to check that the fees/forms used are current, and the requirements for supporting documents etc. have not changed. This was accurate at the time I applied for my AOS and as you can see from my timeline I have been successful so far.
- Clip each application securely with a large paper clip/put it in a separate plastic envelope/secure it in a way you like.
- Make sure once again that you have included everything, re-read the instructions at this point to see if you missed anything. This is probably what you would pay an attorney hundreds of dollars to do.
- Put all the applications in 1 big strong folder, seal it and mail it off!! If you are sending all the 4 applications together (and if you can, you should), they should go to the address on the I-130 instructions, i.e. to the Chicago Lockbox.
- Most importantly, READ ALL instructions carefully and more than once, this will save you time in the end.
If this was helpful to you, please give this post 5 stars and hopefully it will become a sticky. It would have made my life easier if I had seen something like this when I was starting my process.
With these instructions and other help on these forums, you should have a pretty easy time. Good luck.