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Step-by-Step Guide on How to File an I-130 for a Spouse Inside the US
These are the basic steps required by the US Citizen. These steps should be followed as a guideline and not as specific requirements for any given case. Every case is unique and this does not address that uniqueness.


BE WARNED:
You must qualify to file for an I-130 in the US. Not everyone does, and in some cases doing so can be considered fraud and result in being deported and banned from re-entry into the US for a period of time. If you attempt to file and you do not qualify your legal status in the US can be placed in jeopardy. J1 Visa holders will almost always require a waiver and should consult with an immigration lawyer or the USCIS for more information. If you have any doubt, consult an immigration attorney.

If your fiance/fiancee came to the US on a tourist visa with the intent of immigration and marriage, and you are not yet married, then he/she should return to his/her home abroad, and the K-1 visa should be filed (using an I-129f) instead of the I-130 to avoid a denial, deportation, or even being banned from re-entry to the US.

If you are already married, and your spouse came to the US on a tourist visa with the intent of immigration and marriage, then he/she should return to his/her home abroad, and the I-130 (or along with an I-129f for a K-3 Visa) should be filed with the relative outside of the U.S. to avoid denial, deportation, or even being banned from re-entry to the US.

The above conditions are serious and can result in the separation of families for many years if not taken seriously.

Download the Following Forms:

1. I-130
2. G-325a

3.
I-864
4. I-485
5. I-765 (optional)
6. I-131
(optional)
7. G-1145 (optional)


The above forms can be filled out on your computer and printed. Make sure you sign and date them as required. Anything you cannot fit by typing, you can hand-write (very neatly) in black ink in the blank instead. You should always verify the current forms at www.uscis.gov.


Assembling the I-130 Package: Checklist

Forms and Documents (follow these assembly instructions. All supporting documents must be in English or be translated as noted here.)
:
1. Payment as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Read the Guide to Paying USCIS Immigration Fees.
2. Cover Letter. Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-130), a table of contents (list everything in the packet). If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet (list the attachment on the cover sheet). Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet.
3. Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
4. Copy of the Full Birth certificate (front and back) for the US Citizen or a copy of ALL pages of the US Citizen's passport. This is used to establish citizenship.
5. A copy of petitioner's proof of naturalization. (If applicable)
6. A copy of petitioner's proof of permanent residency. (If applicable)
7. A copy of the intending immigrant's birth certificate and/or passport along with English translation. (If in any language other than English)
8. A certified copy of your certified marriage certificate (again, translated if not in Engligh)
9. A certified official copy of the petitioner's and/or intending immigrant's divorce documents. (If one or both of you have been divorced before)
10. A copy of a prior spouse's death certificate. (If filing for a spouse, and one or both have you were married before, and the prior spouse died)
11. G-325A filled out by the US Citizen, signed and dated.
12. One passport-type photo (see specification) of the US Citizen. Write the full name on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of <Insert Name>". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
13. G-325A filled out by the foreign spouse signed and dated.
14. One passport-type photo (see specification) of the foreign spouse. Write the full name of the beneficiary on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of (insert name) ". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
15. Evidence of a bonafide marriage (see note below for what to include)

Note: Evidence of a bona fide Marriage
The USCIS now requires that when filing an I-130 for a spouse that you include evidence of a bona fide marriage. They list examples of acceptable evidence as:
1. Documentation showing joint ownership or property; or
2. A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence; or
3. Documentation showing co-mingling of financialresources; or
4. Birth certificate(s) of child(ren) born to you, thepetitioner, and your spouse together; or
5. Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties havingpersonal knowledge of the bona fides of the maritalrelationship (Each affidavit must contain the full nameand address, date and place of birth of the person making the affidavit, his or her relationship to the petitioner ofbeneficiary, if any, and complete information and details explaining how the person acquired his or herknowledge of your marriage); or
6. Any other relevant documentation to establish that thereis an ongoing marital union.

Assembling the I-485 Package: Checklist
Forms and Documents (follow these assembly instructions. All supporting documents must be in English or be translated as noted here.)
:
1. Payment as required by USCIS. Use a personal check so you can track the payment. Money Orders are also accepted. Read the Guide to Paying USCIS Immigration Fees. Be sure to include the payment for both the I-485 and the biometrics fee*.
>> The fee for I-485 applications filed on or after July 30th 2007 inlcudes the cost of the I-131 and I-765 (no need to pay for them if filed with or while your I-485 application is pending adjudication -- as long as you paid the "new" rate for the I-485 effective July 30th 2007).
2. Cover Letter. Should include a description of what your are petitioning for (I-485), a table of contents (list everything in the packet). If you need additional room to explain your case, attach a separate sheet (list the attachment on the cover sheet). Make sure to sign and date the cover sheet.
3. Form I-485: Petition for Alien Relative
4. Copy of the non US Citizen Spouses Passport (biographical page as well as entry stamps).
5. Electronic I-94 Copy or (for older entries) a copy of the non US Citizen Spouses valid paper I-94 (front and back of form)
6. A copy of the intending immigrant's birth certificate along with English translation. (If in any language other than English)
7. A certified copy of your marriage certificate. (If filing for your spouse)
8. A copy of the petitioner's and/or intending immigrant's divorce documents. (If filing for a spouse, and one or both of you have been divorced before)
9. A copy of a prior spouse's death certificate. (If filing for a spouse, and one or both have you were married before, and the prior spouse died)
10. Two passport-type photos (see specification) of the Non US Citizen Spouse. Write the full name on the back. Place in a plastic bag and label the bag "Photo of <Insert Name>". Attach the bag to a sheet of paper and place behind the corresponding G-325a.
11. G-325A filled out, signed and dated.
12. I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status
13. I-864, Affidavit of Support (see poverty limits here)
>> Include any additional required supporting documentation
14. I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if you want to work while your application is processed (optional)
>> Include any additional required supporting documentation or photos as well as payment per USCIS instructions.
15. I-131, Application for Travel Document, if you need to travel outside the United States while your application is processed (optional)
>> Include any additional required supporting documentation or photos as well as payment per USCIS instructions.
16. I-485 Supplement A, and penalty fee if applicable. See 8 CFR 245.10
17. I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability**, if applicable
* Fingerprint fee not needed for applicants under 14
** an I-601 is NO FEE, if, and ONLY if filed WITH an I-485. Later filing DOES require a fee. Whether to file an I-601 is an important decision -- like the J-1, consulation with an attorney is recommended.
 


Add an overall cover page:

It is useful to add an overall cover sheet with the description of the package and pertinent information such as the applicants name and address. Make sure the cover sheet indicates the package is an Immediate Relative (Spouse) Family Based Adjustment of Status Application with a concurrent I-130 filing. List the major contents of the package (i.e. I-485 and evidence, I-130 and evidence, I-765, I-131,etc).

Attach "E-Notification" Form (Optional)

Clip a completed G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, to the first page of your application (on top of the cover page). By completing this form and attaching it, USCIS will send you an email and/or text message to alert you when your application was received.

Where to File Everything:


You should mail the completed form(s) to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox (Note the PO Box address for your filing type: Form I-130 with Form I-485). Mail the package with return receipt requested / delivery confirmation. Send via USPS.

IMPORTANT!

Make TWO copies of the entire package before you send it in. This includes the money orders too. You want to have a perfect replica of the package you are sending in. All Forms that you submit must be originals with original signatures. Supporting Evidence that you submit may be photocopies. Retain ALL original supporting Evidence since the USCIS has the right to check them by issuing an RFE (Request For Evidence). If you receive an RFE, follow the direction exactly, and make two copies of what you sent back. During any future interviews the USCIS may also want to examine the original supporting evidence.


After Filing: What to do?

Now starts the waiting game. If you filed for an EAD, your spouse will get their Employment Authorization Document approved in 30 to 90 days and will be scheduled to have their picture taken and to have their EAD card issued.


After your spouse has received their EAD, the real wait begins. I-485's can take several months to couple years for approval, and often leaves the petitioner feeling completely hopeless of ever receiving approval. DO NOT GIVE UP! Though it seems like forever, the CIS will eventually get to your petitions!


Your spouse may also be required to have a medical sometime during the AOS process. The medical must be done by a CIS accredited doctor. Your CIS office should give you a list of CIS accredited doctors in your area, if not check with your local office to get one. The medical exam can cost anywhere from $100-200 dollars, many physicians will not take a check, but only accept cash. Be prepared of the cost before your spouse gets this done. It would be wise to collect their vaccination information before going to the appointment as the doctor will need to have record of them. At the appointment your spouse will be tested for TB, AIDS and Syphilis. If they do the skin test for TB, they will be required to return to the CIS doctors office to have the site checked before they finish the exam paperwork. Note: Some CIS Offices allow you to schedule your appointment when you want, as long as it is done before the AOS appointment, check with your CIS office to see how they handle CIS medical exams before filing your AOS paperwork.


Your spouse will be required to have biometrics taken at some point including fingerprints and photo's. This can typically precede the interview date by up to 15 months, however is ussually much closer. Eventually you will receive a letter from the CIS informing you of your interview date. You and your spouse will need to bring supporting evidence of the relationship... i.e. photos, joint checking account, joint lease, joint mortgage, and birth certificates of children if any etc. Also, it is very important to bring the current passport of the applicant, as the CIS will stamp his/her passport with the I-551 stamp if they are approved. This stamp is proof of permanent residency that can be used until they receive their greencard. This normally can take up to six months. The interview is fairly painless and may be video recorded and lasts between 15-30 minutes.


NOTE: If you are married less than 2 years, your spouse will have to renew his/her greencard 2 years from issuance by filing the I-751 to remove conditional status.