Written by attorney Leonard John D'Arrigo



Prepare a cover letter to USCIS outlining the contents of your application; assemble petition in the following order. Use the subject line below to flag to USCIS what the package is about and what it contains.

Re: Petitioner: ____________________

Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative of _______ on behalf of _______

Applicant: ____________________

Form I-485: Application to Adjust Status

Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization

Form I-131: Application for Travel Document

  1. Form I-130 with following attachments:
  • Certified check, bank check or money order payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: $420
  • 1 passport-style photo of each of you
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Copy of USC Sponsor Birth Certificate or Naturalization Certificate
  • Form G-325 of USC sponsor
  1. Form I-864, Affidavit of Support with following evidence:
  • Current and prior year Tax Returns of Sponsor
  • Current and prior year W-2
  • Letter of employer confirming dates of employment, position and salary
  • Bank Statements
  1. Form I-485 of Alien Spouse with attachments:
  • Certified check, bank check or money order payable to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services: $1,070
  • 3 passport-style photos of alien spouse
  • Copy of Birth Certificate
  • Form G-325
  • Form I-693 Medical Exam Report
  • Proof of Immigration Status:

· Biographic data page of passport

· Photocopy of I-94, Arrival-Departure Record from last entry

· Photocopy of visa stamps in passport

· Any other immigration documents

  1. Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization:
  • 2 Passport-style photos
  • Copy of Biographic Data Page of Passport
  1. Form I-131, Application for Travel Document (ONLY IF IN VALID IMMIGRATION STATUS AT TIME OF FILING – if your current visa is expired and you are unlawfully present in the U.S. you CANNOT travel outside the U.S. until your green card is approved).
  • 2 Passport-style photos
  • Copy of Biographic Data Page of Passport
  1. Evidence of Marriage/Relationship


Send application to USCIS by some form of traceable carrier, such as Federal Express to the following address:

USCIS Lockbox

Attn: AOS

131 South Dearborn – 3rd Floor

Chicago, IL 60603-5517


After you file your I-130/I-485 Application Package with USCIS, the next/final step is attending your interview at the USCIS District office with jurisdiction over your place of residence. The primary purpose of this interview is to establish the validity of your marriage. The USCIS operates under the assumption that the marriage is not bona fide, or is entered into solely for immigration benefits. Your job is to demonstrate to the USCIS Officer that your marriage is valid and was entered into in good faith.

You should be prepared to present the documents identified on the interview notice that you received from the USCIS. Some of this documentation was probably submitted with the original application package, but you should be prepared to present the originals of the documents that were submitted with your application package. The USCIS may want to compare the photocopies to the originals.


A. Evidence that your marriage is genuine

The USCIS will closely scrutinize your marriage. You must submit evidence that your marriage is a bona fide marriage, not simply entered into for immigration benefits. The evidence that would be helpful include:

  1. Recent joint bank account statements

  2. Joint tax returns

  3. Life insurance beneficiary designation

  4. Joint utility bills (telephone, National Grid, cable, etc).

  5. Joint medical insurance coverage

  6. Automobile insurance confirmation with both of your names

  7. Original photos of both of you together (provide photocopies as well): USCIS likes photo albums showing you two with other people: family parties, joint vacations, dinners with friends, etc.

  8. Correspondence, cards, emails, letters to each other

  9. Wedding ceremony photos or invitations

  10. Letter from the official who married you both confirming the religious ceremony

  11. Lease agreement or property ownership information showing both names

  12. Letter from landlord verifying that you both live together

  13. Letters from friends and family members, confirming your marriage based on personal knowledge. Specific details of your relationship, how you met, etc. would be a welcomed addition to any such letter.

  14. Correspondence addressed to both of you at the same address: utility bills, or any other correspondence

  15. Any other evidence you can think of that might show your shared life together

These are representative examples of the kind of documents USCIS might expect to see.

B. Visa Documentation

You should be prepared to present a complete photocopy of your passport to the USCIS officer, in addition to the original passport. The USCIS will also request copies of all prior visa documents.

In addition, you should bring with you the original Employment Authorization Card that you have received from USCIS.

C. Financial Documentation

The USCIS will want to see that you and your spouse are still employed, and that your sponsor/petitioner still meets any income requirements. You should be prepared to present a photocopy of your sponsor/petitioner’s most recent U.S. tax return and W-2 (if not already submitted) and an updated letter confirming employment.

D. Questions at Interview

During the interview, it is rare that you will be separated and questioned about your marriage independently. Although, rare, the USCIS may use their discretion, and we want to prepare you for the worst case scenario. The USCIS officer may inquire into virtually all aspects of your relationship, including:

· What is your spouse’s birth date, place of birth, names of parents

· Where spouse lived and worked when you first met

· When, where and how you first met

· Where you went on your first date

· Where marriage proposal was made; who proposed

· Who bought wedding rings and where

· Number of people at wedding

· Where reception was held

· Where parties went after the wedding ceremony

· When did you first have sexual relations; when was the last time

· When was the last overnight trip together

· What was the last movie or television program you saw together

· Where and how did you spend holidays

· What gifts did you exchange for various occasions

· What time to you both go to sleep last night

· What did you both wear to bed

· What did you eat for breakfast that morning

· What was your morning routine

· How may keys do you need to go from the street into your apartment

· How may phones are in the home and where are they located

· Cell phone numbers of each other

· Whose voice is on the answering machine

· How many television sets are in the home and where

· Are there DVD or VCR’s attached to the televisions

· What is covering the living room or bedroom floor; color of rug

· How many bathrooms; whether you have a shower or shower/tub, shower curtain or door

· Draw diagram of your apartment

· Where you do your laundry, grocery shop

· Work schedules of each other

These are just some examples of the level of detail the USCIS officer may require from you both. It is impossible to predict the exact questions that each officer will require, but you should be prepared to answer to this degree of difficulty.


  1. Submit COPIES of all documents to USCIS, not originals

Bring the originals with you to the interview: USCIS has a right to see them

  1. Any document in a foreign language must be translated into English.

The marriage-based green card process can be confusion, burdensome and intimidating. It would be in your best interest to consult with a qualified immigration attorney about the process. There are many areas in which it is easy to make fatal errors. This is a critical point in your lives, and you don't want to jeopardize your new life together.

Free Q&A with lawyers in your area

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer