Start to Finish: Green Cards for Spouses of U.S. Citizens Living in the United States
Step 1: Completing the Green Card Application
If the spouse seeking a green card is married to a U.S. citizen and living in the United States, you’re in luck—you can save time by combining two parts of the process as one “concurrent filing”:
- Establishing the marriage relationship (Form I-130, technically called the “Petition for Alien Relative”)
- Applying for the green card (Form I-485, technically called the application for “Adjustment of Status”)
Forms and fees
Critical elements of the green card application package include these USCIS forms and fees:
- Marriage relationship form (I-130): $535
- Supplemental information form (I-130A): $0
- Green card application form (I-485): $1,140
- Biographic information form (G-325A): $0
- Financial support form (I-864): $0
- Biometrics (fingerprints and photo): $85
These forms are optional, in case the spouse seeking a green card wants to work or travel:
- Work permit application form (I-765): $0
- Travel permit application form (I-131): $0
The total government filing fees are $1,760.
Documents for the I-130 form
The main purpose of the marriage relationship form (or I-130 petition) is to establish that a valid marriage exists. USCIS requires the following documents:
- Proof that the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen (copy of birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or valid U.S. passport)
- Proof that a legally valid marriage exists (a marriage certificate showing the names of both spouses, the place of marriage, and the date of marriage)
- Proof that the marriage is not fraudulent (for example, a joint lease, joint bank account statements, and pictures together)
- Proof that any previous marriages for both spouses have been terminated (typically, a divorce document or death certificate for the previous spouse)
- Proof of name changes for both spouses, if any (typically, a name change order)
- Proof of the beneficiary spouse’s nationality (copy of birth certificate and passport)
Documents for the I-485 form
The main purpose of the green card application form (or I-485) is to establish that the spouse is eligible for U.S. permanent residency. USCIS requires the following documents:
- Proof that the spouse entered the United States using a valid visa, demonstrated by a copy of this prior visa and the I-94 travel record (available here)
- Proof of the foreign spouse's nationality (copy of a birth certificate and foreign passport)
- Proof of the sponsoring spouse’s ability to financially support the spouse seeking a green card (copy of the sponsoring spouse’s latest federal income tax returns and pay stubs)—for more details, see our explanation of the “Affidavit of Support.”
- If the spouse seeking a green card has ever been arrested, proof that there was no conviction (certified copy of the court record)
Before mailing off the application package, the spouse seeking a green card must have a medical examination performed by a USCIS-approved doctor. You can find one in your area by using the USCIS find a doctor tool.
These medical exams typically cost $200-300. Once the exam is complete, the doctor will give you a sealed envelope containing your exam results and vaccination record (Form I-693), which you include in your application package.
Your green card application package includes all of the above forms, fees, and documents. If package includes any documents in a language other than English, you must also include a translation of each document, certified as accurate by the translator.
Once your green card application package is complete, you will mail it to the appropriate USCIS address. You will then get official receipt notices in the mail from USCIS (one each for the I-130 and the I-485), typically within two weeks.
If USCIS needs more information or documents to process your green card application package, they will send you a “Request for Evidence” (RFE) within 2-3 months.
Mailing the Package