This blog series will help you discover how you can sponsor your spouse for a U.S. green card.
Part 2 will consider your next steps once it has been determined that your relationship is eligible for sponsorship. In case you missed it, Part 1 of this blog series discussed eligibility for sponsorship.
Overview of Required Documents
After you have confirmed your eligibility (see Part 1 of this blog series), the first step is to gather the required documents and evidence. Each couple will require a slightly different set of documents. A complete list of the required documents may be found on the USCIS webpage. This list includes, but is not limited to, the following evidence:
- Evidence of the Petitioner / Sponsor’s U.S. citizen, lawful permanent residence, or U.S. national status (e.g. birth certificate, naturalization or citizenship certificate, copy of an unexpired U.S. passport, etc.);
- Birth certificates for both the Petitioner / Sponsor and the Beneficiary;
- Copy of the marriage certificate, and evidence that any prior marriage by either party has been legally terminated;
- Evidence of the bona fides of the marriage;
- Proof of legal name change (if applicable);
- Two (2) passport style photographs;
- Government-issued photo IDs;
- Documentation related to prior criminal charges (if applicable);
- Documentation related to prior U.S. immigration incidents (if applicable); and
- All relevant official application forms.
Evidence of the Bona Fides of the Marriage
Everyone has seen a movie or TV show that features a plotline with a “green card marriage”. Although that situation makes for entertaining television, it in no way reflects the reality of spousal sponsorship in the United States. Relationships entered into for the purpose of evading immigration laws are not valid for visa adjudication purposes. A consular officer or USCIS examiner may deny a green card petition based on a fraudulent or sham marriage. It is therefore important for couples in a bona fide marriage to put careful thought and diligent effort into collecting evidence to demonstrate that the marriage was entered into in good faith, for reasons other than immigration, and that they are living together as spouses. This evidence includes, but is certainly not limited to, the following:
- Birth certificates of children showing both spouses as parents of the child;
- Evidence demonstrating the comingling of assets (ex. joint bank accounts, joint credit cards, real estate deeds with joint home ownership, etc.);
- Evidence demonstrating that the spouses live together (ex. government IDs listing the same home address, joint apartment leases, joint utility bills, etc);
- Evidence of correspondence between the spouses for periods when the spouses lived apart;
- Photographs of the couple at their wedding, with friends and family members, etc.; and
- Sworn affidavits by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the marital relationship.
Because of the importance of demonstrating the bona fides of the marriage in the petition, Sisu Legal provides personalized, detailed document checklists to the clients to assist with evidence gathering.
In preparing a petition to sponsor a spouse for a green card, the Petitioner / Sponsor is required to complete and submit several forms to the U.S. government. If the Petitioner / Sponsor misses a line on a form or accidentally forgets to sign it, it can cause lengthy delays as the application is likely to be returned. Due to the length of these applications (often hundreds of pages long), it is easy to overlook something that may cause undue delays. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that the most recent version of the forms and list of required documents are used in the application process. The most recent version of the forms can be located here.
Immigration Forms Process
To avoid delays, it is a good idea to include several review cycles into your application. If possible, it is also a good idea to get other people to review your application to ensure that everything is complete. At Sisu Legal, the forms process typically works as follows:
- The client completes an online questionnaire for each form;
- Lawyers at Sisu Legal review the client’s responses for completeness and to identify areas where case law, additional explanations, or documented evidence may be required;
- An experienced team member at Sisu Legal inputs the client’s data into the official government forms;
- Lawyers at Sisu Legal review the completed forms and make changes as needed;
- The client reviews the completed forms;
- The client meets with a Lawyer at Sisu Legal to discuss any questions they may have, and to go over the forms, declarations, and agreements contained within;
- If original signatures are necessary, courier services may be involved;
- Before submission, Sisu Legal confirms that it is using the most recent version of the forms and adjusts the application as necessary.
If you have any questions, book a strategy session with us to learn more about how we can help.
Check out Part 3 of this blog series, which discusses “Translating Documents - Who, What, How.”