Law Office of Asel Mukambetova

Marriage Green Card Checklist – Foreign Spouse is Abroad

Marriage Green Card Checklist – Foreign Spouse is Abroad

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Last updated: April 1, 2024.

By Asel Mukambetova, Esq. · Columbia Law School · Licensed immigration attorney

Marriage Green Card Checklist

The forms and documents you need to apply for a green card through marriage, if foreign spouse is abroad (not in the U.S.)

We have covered a completely different guide that entails all the necessary forms and  documents required to file a marriage based green card, if you’re the spouse of a U.S. citizen, or a lawfully permanent resident, present in the U.S.

We made this particular guide to help you gather all the necessary forms and documents required to apply for a marriage based green card, if you’re the spouse of a U.S. citizen, or a lawful permanent resident, in a foreign country (not in the U.S.).

These are all the USCIS forms and their supporting documents which you’ll require:

The documents required for a marriage green card application include the following:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof of sponsor’s US citizenship or lawful permanent residence
  • Evidence of termination of any prior marriage(s)
  • Proof of income
  • Proof of assets
  • Official IRS transcripts
  • Birth certificate
  • Foreign passport
  • Foreign photo ID
  • Two identical color passport-style photographs (both spouses)
  • Copy of visa(s)
  • U.S. credit score proof (if any)
  • U.S. health insurance proof (if any)
  • Public benefits usage proof (if any)
  • I-94 record(s)
  • Immunization or vaccination records
  • Bankruptcy records (if any)
  • Educational records
  • Evidence of marriage
  • Criminal records (if any)
  • Military records (if any)

Detailed description of each immigration form and supporting documents is provided in the tables below.

1. Form I-130, “Petition for Alien Relative” (mandatory)

The form’s purpose:

  • It is the 1st step towards reserving your relative’s immigrant visa.
  • To establish a valid relationship between a U.S. citizen, or permanent resident and a foreign family member, to help them gain a green card.
  • In regards to marriage visas, this petition serves as a proof that your marriage is legally valid.

Who Needs to Sign it:

  • Only a U.S. citizen, or a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) can file an I-130 petition.
  • U.S. citizens can file this petition for their spouses, children, parents and siblings.
  • A green card holder can file the same for their spouses and unmarried children.

Form I-130 filing fee:

Form I-130 Filing CategoryPaper Filing FeeOnline Filing Fee
General Filing$675$625
Filed on behalf of Afghan nationals (beneficiary) with immigrant visa immediately available.$0 (through Sept. 30, 2024)N/A

Form I-130 documents checklist:

Provide photocopies only

Document typeExamples of supporting documentsWho needs to provide it?
Evidence of U.S. Citizenship
  • Copy of U.S. birth certificate, or
  • Copy of unexpired U.S. passport, or
  • Copy of Naturalization Certificate, or
  • Certificate of Citizenship, or
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad
Sponsoring spouse if he/she is a U.S. citizen
Evidence of Lawful Permanent Residence
  • Permanent Residence Card (Green Card)
  • Passport of another country bearing stamp of temporary permanent residence in the U.S.
Sponsoring spouse if he/she is a lawful permanent resident
Evidence of a lawful marriage
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Court order of name change, if any.
Both spouses
Evidence of termination of any prior marriage(s), if any
  • Divorce Certificate
  • Certificate of Annulment 
Both spouses
Passport-style color photographs
  • Two identical color passport-style photographs taken recently
Both spouses
Proof of good faith marriage
  • Joint property deeds
  • Joint residency lease 
  • Joint bank account statements (credit, checking and saving accounts)
  • Joint income tax returns
  • Copies of gas, electric, telephone and other utility bills
  • Gifts receipts
  • Birth certificates of children born during the marriage
  • Adoption decrees of children adopted during the marriage
  • Court guardianship records of stepchildren
  • Witness affidavits confirming your good faith marriage
  • Joint travel records (airplane tickets, hotel room reservation, vacation expenses)
  • Photographs that show both spouses together, with family and friends (wedding, events, vacations, holidays and throughout the relationship)
  • Photo ID with a new last name (if spouse changed her/his last name after the marriage)
  • Life insurance policy where the spouse is named as beneficiary
  • Health insurance plans, which name the spouse as a member or beneficiary
  • Evidence of correspondence between spouses (letters, messages, phone calls, birthday and holiday cards, etc.)
  • Religious marriage certificate if the couple had a church wedding
  • Evidence of joint ownership of a car
  • Evidence of major purchases made together (for example, TV, refrigerator, washer, dryer, etc.)
Both spouses

2. Form I-130A, “Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary” (mandatory)

The form’s purpose:

  • If you are a United States citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) sponsoring an eligible relative for immigration, you must file Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with USCIS. 
  • If the eligible relative is your spouse, you must also file the additional Form I-130A
  • Both of these forms must be filed at the same time.

Who Needs to Sign it?

  • Form I-130A is to be completed by the sponsored immigrant
  • Since the applicant spouse is abroad, the Form I-130A can be completed by the applicant beneficiary’s spouse on the applicant’s behalf but does not have to be signed by the latter.

Form I-130A documents checklist:

Same as Form I-130.  You do not need to provide any additional supporting documents with Form I-130A. Make sure you submit all required documents with Form I-130.

3. Form I-864, “Affidavit of Support” (mandatory)

The form’s purpose:

  • To show that the intending immigrant (foreign spouse) has proper financial support and will not rely on the U.S. government for receiving public benefits (“public charge”).

Who Needs to Sign it?

  • It must be signed by sponsor(s), who meet the following requirements:
    • U.S. citizen(s), or green card holder(s), and
    • should have an income of 125% over the poverty guidelines.

Form I-864 filing fee is $120.

Form I-864 documents checklist: 

Provide photocopies only

Document typeExamples of supporting documentsWho needs to provide it?
Tax records

Provide records for the most recent tax year.

However, it’s recommended to provide records for the last 3 tax years:

  • A copy of sponsor’s individual Federal income tax return, including W-2s for the most recent tax year
  • Copy of Form 1099 (if applicable)
Sponsor (petitioner)
Evidence of Joint Asset Value
  • Existing bank account statement details (all)
  • If you’re using a home:
  • Ownership document, like title or deed
  •  A recent appraisal, or a recent tax assessment
  •  Loan or mortgages details about home
  • Using a second vehicle
  • Ownership document
  • A statement depicting the vehicle’s current value
Sponsor (petitioner) and spouse seeking green card.

4. Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application (mandatory)

The form’s purpose:

  • This form is the 1st step in the application process to becoming a permanent resident of the U.S.
  • It is an online visa application, which is handled by the National Visa Center (NVC).

Speaking of the National Visa Center, it is a branch of the United States Department of State, which processes all the green card applications for people living outside the United States and applying through their local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Who Needs to Sign it?

  • Anyone applying for a marriage-based green card, from outside the U.S must file this online form.
  • Form DS-260 filing fee is $325.

Form DS-260 documents checklist 

Provide photocopies only

Document typeExamples of supporting documentsWho needs to provide it?
Proof of Nationality

Confirmation that Form DS-260 has been filled online

  • Birth certificate
  • Current passport (photo page)
Applicant spouse
Marriage Records

Current marital status.

  • Marriage Certificate, and/or
  • Evidence of termination of any prior marriage(s), like divorce papers, if any
Applicant Spouse
Other Documents (if any)

        Civil documents:

  • Military records, including document proving honorable discharge
  • Certified court or prison record, if ever convicted of a crime
  • Police clearance certificate, if over the age of 16 and lived in the country of application for more than six months
  • Any other documents requested by the NVC and/or the USCIS.
Applicant spouse

Related Links:

Marriage Green Card – Checklist, Forms and Processing Time

Married to a U.S. Citizen and Living Abroad

Married to a Green Card Holder and Living Abroad

How Long Does it Take to Get a Marriage Based Green Card?

Marriage Green Card – How Much Does it Cost