Becoming a legal immigrant is a very exciting process filled with many possibilities for the future. A door opens up that gives all the benefits of a U.S. Citizen without the right to vote; freedom to travel home without worrying about reentry, a right to work and all the legal protections of a U.S. citizens.
This process can also be quite costly. USCIS processing fees range anywhere from $0 to $1,000 per form while lawyer fees average $3,000 to $4,000. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could use that money towards something more exciting, like a honeymoon or vacation or to open a savings account for your future children? There are a lot of ways to spend $4,000 but first let me show you how to keep it in your wallet.
The following guide is for a straightforward application based on marriage. Be honest with your answers especially any arrests; you won’t necessarily be denied if you’ve been arrested in the past but you definitely will if you don’t disclose it.
The main forms needed are the I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and the I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status). There are however some companion forms that are just as important such as the G-325A, I-765 and I-693 and necessary to complete your application. Let’s go through each of them so you understand the forms and their purpose.
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative – $420 – This form is completed by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is petitioning that the U.S. government recognize your spouse who wishes to immigrate to the United States. This is the form that once approved assigns the spouse a visa number in order to file for an adjustment of status. Visa numbers are automatically available to spouses of U.S. citizens.
G-325A Biographic Information – $0 – This form is completed by each spouse to give information about yourselves; your name, date of birth, previous residence, previous employment. This information is very similar to how you complete a credit application. You will submit (2) of these.
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status – $985 – This form is completed by the immigrant spouse requesting their status be changed to that of a permanent resident based on the I-130 application. This is the one that decides whether you get a green card or not. In addition, there is an $85 fee for biometrics. At some point during your application process you will get a letter to have your fingerprints taken at an Application Support Center (ASC), follow the instructions and show up on time for your appointment.
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization – $0 – This form is completed by the immigrant spouse to request permission to accept work while the green card application is being processed. This form is normally $380 but the fee is waived when filed in conjunction with an I-485 form.
I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record – $0 – There is no fee to file this form but the medical examiner does charge for the appointment. This form is completed by a U.S.C.I.S approved medical examiner but you must supply the form to the doctor. The doctor will return it to you in a sealed envelope that must remain sealed. Only the immigration official can open this. In addition, it expires one year after the examination so you may choose to wait until your green card interview has been scheduled and bring it with you at the time of your interview.
Your immigration application packet should look like this:
- – I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
(2) – G-325A Biographic Information
- – I-4585 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- – I-765 Application for Employment Authorization
- – I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record
(1) – Money order totaling $1,070.
Put all these together and mail to the direct filing address for your city. You’re all done. Pay attention to your mail and respond immediately to all correspondence from the U.S.C.I.S. If you have any questions call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283, they are there to help you.
DISCLAIMER: This guide is from my personal experiences and is not those of a legal expert or attorney. Please direct any legal questions to a qualified immigration expert or attorney. Good Luck!