How to Apply for a Green Card- Do it Yourself

Discussion in 'Family Based Green Card -Through Marriage/Relative' started by JohnnyCash, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. JohnnyCash

    JohnnyCash Volunteer Moderator

    There are some very good information on this thread to guide you thru this process of AOS (green card). Check and review the following sites as well to know more about the process-

    But I would like to say something first. It's my suggestion that everyone should add the timeline of their case thru their signature along with their location (like state or district office). I know most people don't put their location in their timeline which makes their timeline useless for others because people cannot base their timeline or have any idea based upon someone who doesn't belong to their district office. Thus, if you do want to help each other, then do a favor on everyone by adding the location of yours to your timeline.

    Also, whenever someone receives a RFE, people should mention why RFE was for so that other people would know what to send with their application to avoid any RFE. If you do want to give back to the people on here and help them as you get help from here then don't forget to mention on your signature line about location and what RFE was for. It will greatly help others.

    Further, when you decide to send your application to USCIS, make sure many times that-

    (1) to use the updated/latest or acceptable form/application than the outdated one. Thus, go on USCIS website to see/find the latest version of application.

    (2) Always make sure about the current processing fees for the application thru USCIS site as processing fees do change.

    (3) Always sign the applications/petitions...If possible, sign the orginial with blue ink to differentiate orginal from copied one.

    (4) Always put the payment for the processing fees on the top.


    (The most important requirement of common residnce proof is that both names of husband and wife must be on these documents listed below, i.e. "joint accounts")

    1. Home Contract copy; Rental copy; lease copy; or affidavit from person you are living with which explains the living arrangements.

    2. Copies of utility bills; gas; light; electric; phone; cable; satellite

    3. Joint bank accounts (must be in both names)

    4. Credit/Debit Cards (under both names)

    5. Insurances:
    a. Auto Insurance
    b. Life Insurance - submit copy of policy showing beneficiaries
    c. Medical - submit copy of medical cards for each person

    6. Photos;
    a. When you were dating/courtship period (3 each)
    b. Marriage photos (3 each)
    c. Birthdays, anniversaries; Christmas; holidays; family gatherings, vacation trips; etc...... (3 each)

    7. Babies - Bring copies of birth certificates

    8. Major Purchases: New Car; Television; Refrigerator; stove; household appliances, etc.

    9. Driver's License (both must have same address to be any good).

    10. Military Identification

    11. Submit a one page letter describing how you met; how long you dated; or how long your lived together before getting married.

    However, there is something I would like you to know about Receipt Number, though...

    What does my USCIS case number mean?

    Your receipt contains a case number that USCIS assigns to your case. It is in the following format (ignore the dashes): aaa-xx-yyy-z-mmmm, where

    aaa: The service center that received your case. For example:

    SRC - Texas Service Center (formerly Southern Regional Center),
    LIN - Nebraska Service Center (named after Lincoln, NE),
    WAC - California Service Center (formerly Western Adjudication Center) and
    EAC - Vermont Service Center (formerly Eastern Adjudication Center).

    xx: The fiscal year of USCIS, from October 1 to September 30. Cases filed from 10/01/2006 to 09/30/2007 will have xx = 07

    yyy: The working day of the fiscal year when your case is received. 10/01 = 001

    z: Either 5 (in database) or 0 (paper files)

    mmmm: A serial number assigned to your case based on the number of cases received, starting from 0001

    It's worth to read all the relevant information from above cited sites as well to make your case approvable.

    Also an abbreviations' list so you can make sense of all of the stuff in the forum:

    AD - Approval Date (When your application was approved)
    AOS - Adjustment of status
    AOS - Affidavit of Support (Department of State definition, AOS means Affidavit of Support )
    AP - Advance Parole (I-131): The authorization to travel outside the US while your adjustment of status is pending
    AR - Administrative Review
    ASC – Application Support Center: offers fingerprinting services
    BC - Birth Certificate
    Bio - Biometrics (Digital photo, index finger FP and your digital signature. This is needed for the production of GC.
    CP - Consular Processing
    CPR - Conditional Permanent Resident
    CWOP - Cancelled Without Prejudice
    DCF - Direct Consular filing
    DHS - Department of Homeland Security
    DL - Drivers License
    DMV - Department of Motor Vehicles
    DO - District Office
    DORA - Dallas Office Rapid Adjustment of Status
    EAC - Eastern Application Center
    EAD - Employment Authorization Document (I-765, approval to work while waiting for AOS Approval)
    FP - Finger Print
    GC - Green Card
    INFOPASS - Is an online appointment so you can go to your DO if you have a doubt or want to know something about your case in person or to request your iEAD
    INS - Immigration and Naturalization Service
    ID - Interview Date
    IO - Immigration officer / Interviewing officer
    LPR - Legal Permanent Resident
    LUD - Last Update Date on your on-line portfolio at USCIS website. It is the date when they last took action on your application, could be anything.
    MSC - Missouri Service Center
    NBC - National Benefit Center (is the one which process your forms initially)
    ND - Notice Date (When USCIS notified you that they received your application)
    NOA’s - Notice of Action is your receipt/letter that you received after you filed your forms indicates I-797C
    NVC - National Visa Center
    PCC - Police Clearance Certificate
    PD - Priority Date
    POE - Port of entry
    RD - Receipt Date (When USCIS received your application)
    RFE - Request for Evidence
    RFI - Request for Initial Evidence
    SC - Service Center (this is used with a prefix, eg CSC - California Service Center; MSC - Missouri Service Center (that is the address from where you will received your NOA's)
    SSA - Social Security Administration
    SSN - Social Security Number
    USC - US Citizen
    USCIS- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
    VSC - Vermont Service Center
    WAC - Western Application Center
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 9, 2009
  2. ari4u

    ari4u Registered Users (C)

    Please post your AOS interview timeline even if you have attended the interview so that others waiting can get an idea of how long it would take for their turn

    Give these timeline trackers a try.

    Quick Look:

    New to Immigration?
    1. USCIS Website
    2. USCIS Abbreviations and Lingo ==> here
    3. NBC: National Benefits Center: FAQ
    4. What is the LockBox ?
    5. Department Of State Visa Bulletin

    Getting Ready to File?
    1. USCIS Official Forms and Fees ==> here
    2. Editable USCIS PDF forms: ==> here (thanks Piyalove!) (use at your own risk)
    3. Sample cover letters are attached with this post. Modify to suit your requirement. Always check USCIS website for correct fees.
    4. FAQ: I-693 - Medical Examination. Look==>here
    5. Ready for your medical? Find a Civil Surgeon ==> here
    6. General information on immigration forms ==> here
    7. General assembling instructions for your AOS package ==> here and here
    8. Not sure if you should submit original or photocopy of a document? Look ==> here
    9. Not sure where to send your completed application? Look ==> here
    10. Which Service Center does what? Which USCIS office handles what applicaitons? ==> here

    After You File:
    1. Got your receipt numbers? Check your case status online ==> here
    2. What do ASC Codes on your NOA mean?
    3. What do USCIS case status messages mean?
    4. EAD approval timeline: ==> here.
    5. AP Usage Statistics ==> here
    6. Planning a visit to your DO? Get INFOPASS appt ==>here
    7. Got your EAD and dont have SSN? You can apply ==> here
    8. Moved to a new address? Look here

    Getting ready for your AOS interview?
    1. MUST READ: Interview FAQ. Attached with this post. (Thanks Spaceman!)
    2. AOS Interview Experiences: ==> here

    Stuck in FBI namecheck/background check/security check?
    1. FBI NameCheck Threads ==> 1, 2, 3

    General Reading

    1. For a list of codes related to "Class of Admission", look at attached document
    2. I-485-Standard Operating Procedures(PDF) ==> here
    3. Delays in issuing SSNs to aliens by the Social Security Administration ==> here
    4. Last Name First, No Joking Matter! Read ==> here
    5. Visa Reciprocity and Country Documents Finder ==> here
    6. Are you out of status? ==> Look here
  3. nkumar7

    nkumar7 Registered Users (C)

    Sorry, I should have looked on the USCIS website, the Case Status Online link is right there.
  4. nkumar7

    nkumar7 Registered Users (C)

    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.
    I-693, 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. Click to download form and instructions.​

    I-864, 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.
  5. beemer8

    beemer8 Registered Users (C)

    Address to Send all 4 applications

    With the help from your posting i have prepared all the apps and now ready to send. The snag is on i-130 the address is
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services P.O. Box 805887 Chicago, IL 60680-4107

    on I-485 it tells me to send it to

    USCIS P.O. Box 805887 Chicago, IL 60680-4120

    i am sending i-130,i-485,i-765,i-131 and all supporting documents, can you please verify?
  6. TNguy78

    TNguy78 Registered Users (C)

    Didn't this answer your question?

    It explicitly explains where to send it if you are filing the I-130 and I-485 concurrently.
  7. beemer8

    beemer8 Registered Users (C)


    TNguy78, yes it did until i read nkumar7 posting and he advised to send it to the address on i-485, on form i-130 it gives a different address then the one on form i-485, i am not trying to waste anyones time by asking redundant ??, i have spent a lot of time preparing my documents and don't want to send it to the wrong address, especially with no lawyer i am bing extra any case thanks for your reply and guidance.
  8. TNguy78

    TNguy78 Registered Users (C)

    Ok - I understand. I think nkumar7's advice to send to the address in the I-485 form is contrary to the I-130 forms. I'm not sure why nkumar7 says to follow the I-485 form.

    I filled it my whole package according to the I-130 form and it arrived fine, I got my FP appt and the I got my EAD and AP approvals and so far no RFE's. So I guess the address I used was the right one.
  9. nkumar7

    nkumar7 Registered Users (C)

    Hmmm....I think I made a mistake (see, not a lawyer!) but it should be fine. I DID send all my forms to the address on the I-485 instructions and my applications all seem fine, I got all my notices in a timely manner (including the I-130- see timeline below). I just had my FP yesterday and now I'm waiting for the interview letter I guess. No RFE's yet.

    So follow the instructions on the I-130, but in case you have already sent it to the I-485 address, you probably don't need to worry. Sorry about that. I'll change that part in my original post.
  10. ml_boston

    ml_boston Banned

    Chicago opens all the mail and sends out fingerprint notices and RFEs for blatantly missing documents (usually within a couple of weeks of submission).

    Then they forward the app to Missouri (MSC), where it sits in a 2 month line to be reviewed.

    I'm a 5/25 ND, and just got my first review (an RFE request). The early-June filers should be getting updates in about 1.5 weeks.


    DO: Santa Ana / SC: California Service Center

    5/13/08 - Parent I-130/I-485/I-765/I-131 mailed to Chicago Lockbox
    5/22/08 - checks cashed, receipt numbers from Missouri MSC
    5/25/08 - Notice dates for all notices
    5/29/08 - LUD I-130/I-485/I-765/I-131 (received and pending at NBC)
    6/07/08 - Fingerprint appointment letter received
    6/12/08 - Fingerprint appointment date
    6/12/08 - LUD I-485/I-765 (no change, still received and pending at NBC)
    7/29/08 - LUD I-485 - RFE for initial evidence sent out, case on hold
    7/30/08 - LUD I-485 (no change, still on hold for RFE)
  11. nikkonstar

    nikkonstar Registered Users (C)

    For G-325A form, do you submit all the 5 copies with the application I-130 and the I-485? I think thats the case, but just wanted to confirm it.
  12. PraetorianXI

    PraetorianXI Banned

    One, it is not 5 copies... each G-325a set has 4 copies.

    Two, if you fill them out using acrobat reader on a PC (or Mac ;)) then when you fill out the first page, the other 3 are filled out automatically.

    Three, you need to submit 3 sets: Two sets for the I-130 (filled out by both USC and Alien) and one set for the I-485 (filled out by Alien).

    Four, make sure you SIGN and DATE every copy of each set.
  13. beemer8

    beemer8 Registered Users (C)

    I know its confusing let me explain, hopefully this helps.
    each G-325 application has 4 pages and all 4 pages are the same hence its referred as copies.

    Now print out 3 sets ( each set has 4 pages)

    1 filled by you, 2 filled by your spouse attach both these with your i-130.

    3rd set filled by the applicant ie the one who is getting his/her status adjusted and attach with i-485

    With regard to the address:
    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services P.O. Box 805887 Chicago, IL 60680-4107

    is the address given on i-130 i sent it here and that is the correct address if your sending all 4 applications : ie i-130,i-485,i-765,i-131 and supporting documents like the G-325a, i-864, Birth certi etc.
  14. nikkonstar

    nikkonstar Registered Users (C)

    I wouldnt be so quick to answer that.

    I did a quick research, forms I485, I765 and I131 state that if you are filing concurrently then the address is PO BOX 805887, CHICAGO IL 60680-4120.

    Only I-130 says that the address is PO BOX 805887, CHICAGO IL 60680-4107.

    If you look at instructions in the I130, on page 4 there are two addresses, the above address has the same zip code + 4 as the below, which is next to impossible in the USPS database. Any address with different PO BOX most likely should have different zip code + 4.

    So a quick check at USPS zipcode lookup told me that the zip code +4 on the forms I480, I765, I131 are the correct ones. The one on the I130 doesnt exist.

    Use this link ( and just enter in the PO box number and city+state, leave out the zip code, hit submit and that will tell you what the zip code is for a particular PO Box, the zip code in I130 instructions is a misprint.

    So the correct address is PO BOX 805887, CHICAGO, IL 60680-4120.

    For those who sent it to I130 zipcode, I dont think there is a need to worry, because USPS probably sent it to the PO BOX number using the zip code and not zip code +4.
  15. woodenshoe101

    woodenshoe101 Registered Users (C)

    Yes, either a multilingual BC (that includes an English translation) is ok, or a certified translation to English of the BC in native language.

    If you have atrocious handwriting (like me) use Adobe. The nice thing about most forms (except I think 864) is that you can save what you entered. Also, there is no ambiguity in typed text (in contrast to hand written).

    Why do you need plastic envelopes? Any sturdy paper envelope will work just as well.
  16. woodenshoe101

    woodenshoe101 Registered Users (C)

    yes you need ALL 4 pages of G325A.

    If you use Adobe to fill it out, it will do the last 3 automatically so you have enter all info only once. Don't forget to SIGN ALL 4 pages though.
  17. woodenshoe101

    woodenshoe101 Registered Users (C)

    Yeah, space is a problem on some forms - especially with adobe where you can't change the font size. Make sure you use lower case (all caps takes up to 20% more space) and if it really doesn't fit, then hand write it. Also if you can, use short addresses (eg, "N Green St" instead of "North Green Street")
  18. woodenshoe101

    woodenshoe101 Registered Users (C)

    864 is not notarized and USCIS does not care about expired passports.
  19. woodenshoe101

    woodenshoe101 Registered Users (C)

    Could you give a little bit more detailed time line? (also tell about all visas you held)

    Overstay will be forgiven if you file for GC based on marriage to a USC. However, if your overstay was >180 days you cannot leave the US until you GC is approved, or you will be banned for 3 years (10 years if overstay >360 days).

    If you worked while out of status, that will be forgiven, too. However, you should disclose it on your application, if you conceal it and USCIS find out you did, you will be charged with fraud.
  20. woodenshoe101

    woodenshoe101 Registered Users (C)

    So you overstayed about 4 years? Then definitely don't leave until you have your GC in hand.

    That is what I601 is designed for (among other things). So yes it will work in your case, but be aware that you have to prove sufficiently that you cannot take vaccinations. See page 3 of the instructions to form I601.

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