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An Alien in the House - Simplyfying the U.S. Immigration Process - Step 1 - Getting your Forms Ready to File

Updated on May 23, 2013

By: Rhonda Lucas

March 2012

You Don't Always Find Love At Home

Copyright Suprijono Suharjoto
Copyright Suprijono Suharjoto

Have you Fallen for a Foreigner? Now What?

I never thought I would meet, have so much in common with, and fall in love with, a man from outside the United States. But it has happened!!!! AND it has happened rather late in life - I am now 55 years old! As of the date of writing this article, we have planned to be married within 10 days!

My fiancé and I met on an on-line dating website for those of our same religion. Let me stop here for a moment and say, I am not a proponent of on-line dating. As a matter of fact, I myself have had some very bad experiences with on-line dating, which you can read about in my other article here on HubPages, entitled Online Dating - Some Dangers You Need to Know.

I would even suggest that you read it first, especially if you are in an online relationship at this time, or you are a user of this dating phenomena.

It is rare to meet your soulmate in this way, but no matter how you've met your alien or foreigner, you do not need to be afraid of the United States Immigration process. I was intimidated by the normal thinking that it is a long, arduous and daunting process that will possibly require a long separation of you and your fiancé, while the process creeps along at a snails pace. Have no fear, once you have all the substantiating documents like birth certificates, divorce papers, picture ID's, etc., you'll find that the process is not as bad as you thought.

I am just beginning this process, but I have acquired a great deal of information and felt the need to document this process for others, so they might have peace of mind while trying to legally immigrate their loved one into the United States. Since I am in the first stages of the immigration process, my goal is to publish a series of articles that will document every step of the way. This article is obviously Step #1, so if you are following me through this process, stay tuned for the steps that will follow.

Now, let me make it clear that I am talking about immigrating someone that has entered into the United States legally. This article is written in an effort to simplify the process for you, thereby, saving you hours of holding on the phone waiting to talk to immigration officials, or scheduling free consultations with immigration attorneys who charge thousands of dollars to do what you can do yourself, even though you have never done it before.

Before I get into the process, let me just tell you that I am sure immigration lawyers have their place and need, but I consulted with an Immigration Law Firm before deciding to do this myself and they made me feel that without THEM, my fiancé would have to go back to his home country and wait for a certain process. However, that was not the case. As long as a foreigner has entered the United States legally and you've tied the knot legally, you do not have to be separated during the immigration process. As a matter of fact, once you have a valid marriage certificate, you can now file all the necessary documents to make your spouse a permanent resident. Because your foreigner (through marriage) is now an immediate relative, by immigration standards, they do not have to wait in line for a visa to allow them to stay in the United States! One thing is for SURE, when you first get married, the LAST thing you want to do is be separated for months on end! So, don't stress out, he/she can stay with you!


Let's Get Started - Get Organized !

Anytime I embark on any kind of project, I first get organized. You don't want to have to search under books and papers for telephone numbers or your "to do list" that you've misplaced! Believe me, if you don't start this process organized, it will take you a lot longer to reach your goal.

I began with an expandable folder that will hold several sub-folders, each holding many documents. Each folder is labeled with the individual immigration form number (i.e. I-130). On the outside of the expandable folder, list all the documents that are contained in it. I will explain further in a moment. Also, on the outside of the expandable folder, write the toll-free number for Immigration (USCIS) 1-800-375-5283, so you will always have it handy. Also, if you have a cell phone, save this number in your phone.

Now, you can begin working on keeping your alien in the house . . . with you!

On the outside of the expandable folder, write a list of what is inside the folder. Here's what mine looks like:

I-130 Petition for Alien Relative

I-131 Application for Travel

I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

I-765 Application for Employment Authorization

I-864 Affidavit of Support

G-325A Biographic Information - U.S. Citizen

G-325A Biographic Information - Alien

Before I get into the details of these documents, you must first know that there are filing fees associated with the processing of these documents. The filing fee for the I-130 (as of 03/05/2012) is $420.00. The filing fee for the I-485 is $985.00, which includes the filing of all the other documents in the above list. You will also have to pay approximately $500.00 to $600.00 to a civil surgeon. The civil surgeon is a designated doctor in your area who will perform the Medical Examination, tests and vaccinations, etc., to verify that the immigrant is in good health. Now you can understand why you will not want to pay an immigration lawyer on top of all those costs! Also, you will have to pay all filing fees at the time you submit your documents. Additionally, you will have to pay the civil surgeon up front for the office visit and any other fees associated with the medical examination, such as vaccinations and lab tests. Consequently, you are looking at about $2,000.00 U.S. Dollars for the entire process. The law firm I had contacted in the beginning wanted to charge me an additional $2,500.00 to process the documents for me. This would have meant paying out $4,500.00 to keep my alien in the house!


Now, the above list of documents is what you will need if you have married a foreigner and your alien spouse is inside the United States legally. For other scenarios, such as you want to marry a foreigner who is now residing outside the United States, or you have married a foreigner and he/she is now outside the United States and you are trying to get them a visa to return, you will have to contact the USCIS ( (Immigration) at the toll-free number above, to get a list of documents and procedures for your particular situation.

Okay, let's get the forms and go to work. First, you will need access to a computer. Your local library is a good place to gain access to a computer, if you do not have one. Once you have access to a computer, go to the U.S. Immigration website (USCIS) at and click on FORMS. There you will see a list of all the forms. Click on each form in the list I have given you. You will have the option of printing the instructions and another option to print the form itself. I suggest printing the instructions that go along with each form. The instructions are very good at explaining the purpose of the form and how to fill it out. Also, you can make notes to yourself on the instructions and if you have any questions you want clarified, you can mark them as well, so that when you call the toll-free immigration number to ask for help, you will have them right in front of you. And believe me, you WILL be calling them, but that's why they are there . . . to answer your questions. So ask as many questions as you like.

Once you have printed all of the forms and instructions, find a quiet place, without distractions, and read over all the instructions and all the forms. Make a list of documents you will need to submit with your forms, questions to ask immigration when you call them, etc. I will also go over each form and its instructions with you and share with you the questions I had, and the answers to them, so that maybe you will not have to ask immigration the same questions I did.

FORM I-130 - Peittion for Alien Relative

The purpose of this form is to notify immigration of the relationship between you and the alien relative so they may be allowed to legally immigrate to the United States.

For purposes of filling in Form I-130, You, the U.S. Citizen are the Petitioner and your Alien Relative is the Beneficiary.

The instructions for completing this form are very clear. I had no problems understanding what was needed, with one exception. It wasn't real clear if I could file this same form for my alien's 18-year old daughter to come to the United States as well. I learned that, since she was not OUR daughter (born to both of us) and since she had reached the age of 18 BEFORE our marriage, my immigrant spouse would have to wait until his immigration papers were processed and accepted. Once he is established as a permanent resident, then he can file an I-130 and other necessary documents so that his daughter (who resides outside the United States) can eventually come live with us.

Note: Make sure you fill out everything on the form. If it is not applicable but "n/a". If the answer is none, put "none". They don't like you to leave anything blank. And be sure to use black ink when completing all immigration forms.

Of course, along with this document, you will also have to submit proof of your family relationship. So if you have become husband and wife you will have to submit a copy of your marriage certificate. If either or both of you have ever been married before, you will have to submit copies of documents showing that those prior marriages have ended.

Note: If your alien's divorce documents are in another language, you will have to have them translated into English and certified by the translator, before you submit them to immigration. This also means that even your alien's birth certificate needs to be translated into English and certified by the translator. Here are some links to certified translators that guarantee their translation will be accepted by USCIS.




Also, to be submitted with this form I-130, are passport style photos of each of you, taken within 30 days of the date you file this form. On Page 2 of the instructions, it gives very precise requirements for these photos. Make sure you follow them to the letter. You don't want your whole package to be rejected for one little mistake. I learned that my neighborhood Wal-Mart store takes these type of pictures.

Along with this I-130, you will have to submit a G-325A- Biographic Information - for each of you. This is just a one page document with very basic family history and places you have lived and worked.

In addition, you will need to show further proof of your marital relationship, such as evidence showing co-mingling of financial resources (such as a bank statement), or joint ownership of something, such as a vehicle or home, or a copy of a lease showing that you have a common residence.

When I was first told that I needed to submit this document, it was a little unsettling because I thought my hew husband would not be REQUIRED to go back to his home country. I was correct, he is NOT REQUIRED to go back to his home country. This document is issued for the purpose of providing the alien with a legal travel document that will let him/her re-enter the United States without any problems, SHOULD he/she find it necessary to return to his/her home country for any reason, such as to attend a funeral, or take care of other affairs. The alien may never NEED this document while immigration is processing the other documents, but they issue it just in case.

Since you are filing this form along with Form I-130, the alien will not have an "A" number to put in box #1 on the form, nor will there be anything for you to put into box 3 of this form. Immigration will fill that in, if needed. So, you only need to fill in the rest of the form.

For the scenario I mentioned in the onset of this article, (you are married and the alien is inside the United States) you will check box 'd' which says "I am applying for an advance parole document to allow me to return to the United States after temporary foreign travel." in Part 2 - Application Type. Finish filling in Part 2. In Part 3 - Processing Information - for #1 Date of Intened Departure, since this does not yet apply, I put "n/a". I also put "n/a" in #2 - Expected Length of Trip. Answer question #3 in this section then skip to Part 7. You will have to attach a separate sheet of paper explaining how you (the alien) qualify for an Advance Parole Document, and what circumstances warrant issuance of advance parole. Include copies of any documents you wish considered (see instructions). On the separate sheet of paper, I just stated:

"I qualify for an Advance Parole Document because I have legally entered the United States and I have legally married a U.S. Citizen and have filed the following documents with USCIS, which are pending at this time:

I-130 Petition for Alien Relative - with supporting documentation, including a G-325A for myself and a G-325A for my wife.

I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status - with supporting documentation.

I-693 Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record - with supporting documentation

I-765 Application for Employment Authorization - with supporting documentation.

I-864 Affidavit of Support - with supporting documentation.

(end of separate sheet). I also had my alien sign and date this sheet.

To save yourself some time and to alleviate any confusion, as you are reading over the instructions for this document, only concern yourself with the sections that pertain to "Advance Parole Document". You are not concerned with the sections about Reentry Permit or Refugee Travel Document, unless your particular situation and immigration says you are required to do so. Remember: if in doubt about ANYTHING call immigration (USCIS) and ask - never ASSUME anything.

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Form I-485 - application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

The purpose of this form is to apply to adjust from a visa statu,s to a permanent resident status or register for permanent residence.

This form is filled out and questions answered by the alien. For the purposes of the scenario I mentioned in the onset (I am a U.S Citizen and my alien huband is residing inside the United States), the alien will check box "a" in Part 2 - Application Type.

Note: There is a filing fee of $985.00 to file the I-485 (and associated forms, which I gave a list of in the beginning of this article). However, there is also an additional fee of $85.00 for Biometrics (fingerprinting), which you will pay later, when you get a notice from immigration telling you where to go to get your alien fingerprinted.

This form contains 11 pages of instructions. Read them carefully and follow them to the letter.

Also, the instructions give many different addresses of where you will need to submit your I-485, depending on the associated documents, so read those directions very carefully. But, as a precaution, when you are ready to mail them, call the toll-free number I gave you at the onset, and make sure you will be submitting them to the correct address, since this address may have changed since they updated the form. If you happen to send them to the wrong address, you will have them rejected and mailed back to you and this will delay your submission considerably.

NOTE: if you are filing the exact same documents I have listed here and your scenario is the same as mine (you just married your alien and he/she is here in the United States) you will send ALL of your forms to the address on page 5 of the I-130 Instructions.

Remember: As you are reading the instructions to each of these forms, make notes on them to remind yourself to have those points clarified later when you call immigration. Also, if, for some reason you have left something blank on a form because you don't know yet, or you are waiting for your alien to fill it in, put a bright colored post-it or sticky note next to it, so you won't forget to fill in the blank or sign the form!


I-693 - Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination

The purpose of this form is to report results of a medical examination by a Civil Surgeon, to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). They just want to make sure your alien is healthy and not a threat to the public health here in the U.S.

There is no filing fee for this form, however, you will have to pay the civil surgeon for his services, plus any additional charges such as vaccinations and/or lab tests. Here in Missouri, we are anticipating that the total amount we can expect to pay (doctor and vaccinations and lab tests) will be between $500.00 - $600.00 U.S. Dollars.

To find a Civil Surgeon in your area, you can call the USCIS toll-free number or go to their website: and click on "Find a Medical Doctor (Civil Surgeon)" under Customer Tools: Before I File. Also, you can do what I did and just type in the Google search bar "Civil Surgeons, your city" and pick one close to where you live.

Your alien only needs to complete Part 1. In this section there is a place for the alien or "Applicant" to sign. DO NOT SIGN OR DATE THIS FORM UNTIL INSTRUCTED TO DO SO BY THE CIVIL SURGEON.

The remainder of this form is for the civil surgeon to fill out. But to fully understand the process and learn what to do, should your alien need to be referred to another doctor, read the instructions that go along with this form.

Once again, make sure you use black ink to complete this form and do not leave anything blank in Part 1. If it is not applicable, put "n/a", If none, put "none".

The only things your alien will need to take to his appointment with the civil surgeon are:

a government-issued photo identification such as an unexpired passport, and

a shot or vaccination record from their home country (if any).

The civil surgeon will give your alien further instructions for any needed vaccinations, lab tests and/or follow-up visits and procedures.

Note: You must submit this completed I-693 form with your I-485, or everything will be sent back to you. So make your appointment with the civil surgeon as soon as you can, and make sure your alien keeps any follow-up appointments with the civil surgeon. While you are waiting for the initial appointment with the civil surgeon, you can work on getting the rest of your forms completed.

When all follow-up appointments have been kept and the civil surgeon has completed his examination and tests, you (the alien) and the doctor will sign the form and the civil surgeon will give you copies of everything you need. The civil surgeon is required to submit the original signed and completed I-693 to immigration himself, along with any supporting tests or x-rays.

The alien will receive a copy of his/her vaccination record, which they should keep for their own records and also submit a copy with this form.

The alien will submit a copy of his I-693 with the I-485. See I-485 checklist below.

I- 765 - Application For Employment Authorization

The purpose of this form is to request an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or "Green Card".

NOTE: Getting a green card, can take up to three months, so you will need to be able to financially support your alien until he/she can get their green card and obtain employment. You will learn more about financially supporting your alien when you fill out the next form in this series, the I-864 - Affidavit of Support.

The Instructions for this form, I-765, is 11 pages long, ( while the form itself is only one page!

The only confusing part (for me) was trying to figure out what I needed to put in the parenthesis in Question #16 on the form. For my own needs, since my alien and I just got married, and he really isn't considered an immigrant, but an immediate relative (or nonimmigrant spouse), I put an "a" in the first set of parenthesis and a "9" in the second set of parenthesis. See page 4 of instructions, under #6 - Family-Based Nonimmigrant Categories- under the letter "B".

Therefore, before you fill-in #16, read about all the possibilities, then narrow it down. If you don't feel like your alien fits into any of those categories, call USCIS and ask them to help you figure out which category your alien fits into.

Remember: Read all of the instructions thoroughly, make notes and keep track of the questions you have. Before you begin filling in the form, call USCIS and get all of your questions answered.

Pay close attention to the "Required Documents" on page 6 of the Instructions. On top, you must have the filing fee (if any). For my category (a) (9), no filing fee is required. Next, you will need a copy of your alien's I-94. What is an I-94?

An I-94 is a form denoting the Arrival-Departure Record of particular foreigners used by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) uses Form I-94 also. Form I-94 must be completed at the time of entry to the United States by foreign citizens that are being admitted into the United States in a nonimmigrant visa status. While citizens of the countries in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program list, who are entering the United States via an air or seaport for 90 days or less and who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents are required to complete an I-94W ("Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure Form"), these visitors must now also obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) prior to traveling to the United States.

My husband just happens to be a citizen of the Netherlands Antilles, which is a country in the U.S. Visa Waiver Program. So my husband will have to submit a copy of his I-94 along with his ESTA.

Next on the list of documents to submit with this I-765 form, is a copy of your alien's EAD (Green Card). Since he/she doesn't have one yet, they will have to submit a copy of their passport (or other document in the list under 2. (B)-page 6).

The last thing on the list of required documents you will need to submit, is two identical color photographs of the alien taken within 30 days of filing the application. Again, as mentioned earlier, there are certain specifications that must be met with regards to these passport-style photos.

Note: These photos that you are going to submit with this I-765, are in addition to, the passport-style photos of each of you, that you will be submitting with the I-130.

At the bottom of page 8 of the Instructions, it begins telling about where to file this document, and gives the different locations of where to file, based on your answer to #16 on the form. For my purposes, which I mentioned in the onset: I have married an alien and he is here in the United States and the answer to #16 is (a) (9), I will be filing THIS form WITH the I-485, therefore, I will be mailing this form (and all the others listed above) to the address where I am instructed to file the I-485. So, don't worry about which form goes where, because ALL of your forms will be submitted to the same address.


I-864 - Affidavit of Support

The purpose of this form is to show that you have adequate means of financially supporting the alien and that the alien is not likely to become a public charge (burden on society). This form is for you, the Sponsor, to complete.

The Instructions indicate that your answers must be clearly typed or written with CAPITAL letters. I made the mistake of filling this form out without using CAPITAL letters, so I had to start over.

Completing this form is pretty straight-forward. You will check box "a" in Part 1 that says "I am the petitioner. I filed or am filing for the immigration of my relative."

Part 2 and 3 is information about the immigrant you are sponsoring.

The rest of the form is mostly information about the Sponsor, vital statistics, including address, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, social security number, whether the sponsor is a U.S. Citizen and if the sponsor is in the military.

The sponsor will have to state the household size, their employment information and annual income. (This will be used to determine if you meet the Minimum Income Requirements as set forth in the I-864P for your household size.

For example, my household size is two (me and my alien), so my annual income requirement for my household size is $18,212.00. It just so happens, that I meet the income requirement with just my income alone. However, if you do NOT meet the income requirement, you can include any assets that your alien may have. The Instructions also tell you how you can meet the minimum annual income requirement in other ways; for example, you may want to have a co-sponsor. So, read through the instructions to learn how you may be able to meet this requirement.

If you should need to use income of other persons in your household, you will need to submit an I-864 for each person (including a co-sponsor, if any) whose income you will be using to meet the required income.

The sponsor will have to submit (along with this Affidavit) a copy of their individual Federal Income Tax Return, including W-2's for the most recent tax year, or a statement and/or evidence describing why they were not required to file an income tax return.

Things You Need to Know About Sponsoring Someone

The instructions for filling out this form state:

"Your obligation to support the immigrant you are sponsoring in this Affidavit of support will continue until the sponsored immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work in the Untied States."

"Although 40 qualifying quarters of work (credits) generally equate to ten years of work, in certain cases the work of a spouse or parent adds qualifying quarters. The Social Security Administration can provide information on how to count qualifying quarters (credits) of work.

"The obligation also ends if you or the sponsored immigrant dies or if the sponored immigrant ceases to be a lawful permanent resident and departs the United States. "

NOTE: Divorce does not end the sponsorship obligation.

What else do I need to know about being a sponsor?

The sponsor is responsible for repaying the cost of public benefits if the immigrant subsequently goes on welfare. The agency can sue the sponsor in court for these costs if the sponsor does not pay. If the agency is still unable to collect repayment for those services and/or benefits, the agency can initiate deportation proceedings, however, this is very rare.

NOTE: Repayment of public benefits is not a requirement for immigrants to adjust status or be admitted into the United States.

Sponsors are needed in the immigration process to ensure that immigrants do not become dependent on the government to live or do not become "public charges". This is why sponsors must meet minimum income requirements. If the immigrant you sponsor receives any "means-tested public benefits", they can be found to have become a "public charge". If an immigrant is found to be a public charge, their application for permanent residency, a green card, or an entry visa may be denied. In very rare cases, deportation may also result.

What are "Means-Tested Benefits"?

They include,but may not be limited to, the following:

  • Food Stamps
  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • State Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP).

States and local jurisdictions may also designate programs as means-tested public benefits.

The following programs are not considered "means-tested benefits":

  • Emergency Medicaid
  • Short-term, non-cash emergency relief
  • Services provided under the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Acts
  • Immunizations and testing and treatment for communicable diseases
  • Student assistance under the Higher Education Act and the Public Health Service Act
  • Certain forms of foster-care or adoption assistance under the Social Security Act
  • Head Start programs
  • Means-tested programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act
  • Job Training Partnership Act programs

Needless to say, sponsoring an alien is an important and far-reaching responsibility.

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G-325A - Biographic Information

The purpose of this form is simply to provide immigration with additional information needed to process your paperwork. It includes family history, former spouses, current spouse and date of marriage; and also, a record of where you have lived and worked during the past 5 years.

You will need to submit one G-325A for you and one for your alien. These two G-325A forms will be submitted and clipped to your I-130 document. See checklist below for a list of what will be attached to your I-130.

As with all the immigration forms you will be submitting, you can type in your answers or handwrite them. It doesn't matter which you do. However, with this particular form, I found the boxes to be too small for me to handwrite the information in, so I chose to type in my answers, then print off the completed form. But, to save yourself from having to retype and reprint the document when you see you've made a mistake, you can do as I did and print off all the blank forms, handwrite your answers, then use the handwritten ones as your final drafts when doing your final input on the computerized form.

Getting the Forms and Documents Ready to File

Before you get to this last step, take one last look at all your documents and forms. Proofread them one last time to make sure you didn't leave anything out. Once you are finished doing that, here is a checklist that you can use to make sure you are not forgetting anything.

I-130 - Petition for Alien Relative

  • Make sure there are no blanks in your answers. If it is not applicable, put "n/a", if none, then put "none".
  • Make sure that YOU, the Petitioner have signed and dated the form.
  • The Petitioner needs to submit a copy of their birth certificate to prove U.S. Citizenship.
  • To prove you are married to the alien, submit a copy of your marriage certificate.
  • To prove that all prior marriages have ended, both of you need to submit divorce papers from those marriages. If the divorce papers are in a foreign language, you must first have the documents translated into English.
  • A passport-style color photo of yourself and a passport-style color photo of your alien. I put my photos in a small plastic bag and clipped it to my form.
  • Submit completed and signed G-325A forms for each of you.
  • Submit one or more types of documents which give further evidence of your marriage and your living together.
  1. A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence.
  2. A document showing joint ownership of property.
  3. A document showing co-mingling of financial resources, such as a bank statement.
  4. Affidavits of third parties having personal knowledge of the marriage.
  5. Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union.
  • A check or money order drawn on a U.S. bank, payable in U.S. currency in the amount of $420.00 and made payable to : U.S. Department of Homeland Security. You must spell it out this way. Do not use abbreviations on your check. (Note: fees in this article reflect the fees as of March 2012. Before you make out your check, call USCIS or check their website (click on FORMS to see the fees for each form) and make sure the filing fee has not changed.

In an organized way, attach all of the documents behind the I-130, with the check or money order on top, then the plastic bag with the passport photos behind that. The Instructions do not say "do not staple", but I chose not to staple them together because immigration will more than likely have to take them apart anyway, and you don't want them tearing your documents while they remove the staples. I chose to use a binder clip, not a paper clip (since those can fall off). Once you have everything clipped together for this form, set it aside and go to the next form.

I-131 - Application for Travel Document

Besides the I-131 form itself, your alien will need to submit a copy of:

An official photo identity document showing your photo, name and date of birth. (Example: a valid governent-issued driver's license; passport identity page; Form I-551, Permanent Resident Card; or any other official identity document..) Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Document, is not acceptable as a photo identity document. In my case, I am submitting a copy of the identity page of his passport.

Clip these together (but separate from the other forms) and place behind the I-130 pack of documents and now you are ready to go on to the I-485 form checklist.

I-485 - Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status - Checklist

Along with the completed I-485, include the following (in this order):

  • A check or money order for $985.00, drawn on a U.S. bank, payable in U.S. currency, made out to: U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • Two identical color passport-style photos of the alien, placed inside a small plastic bag.
  • The form itself shoud not contain any blanks, If not applicable, put "n/a", and if none, put "none",
  • If your alien has any type of criminal history, you must submit evidence that, either no charges were filed OR if charges were filed, submit evidence in the form of an original court-certified copy of the complete arrest record and/or disposition for each incident (e.g., dismissal order, conviction record, or aquittal order.) NOTE: Unless a traffic incident was alcohol or drug-related, you do not need to submit documentation for traffic fines and incidents that did not involve an actual arrest if the only penalty was a fine of less than $500.00 and/or points on your driver's license.
  • Copy of your alien's foreign birth certificate, which has been translated into English and certified.
  • Copy of passport page with nonimmigrant visa. (Now in my case, where my alien has a Visa Waiver and an ESTA (mentioned earlier) - I will submit them along with a copy of his passport page.)
  • Copy of completed and signed I-693 - Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record along with a copy of the vaccination record the civil surgeon will give you. Remember to keep a copy of this vaccination record for your personal records.
  • Completed Forms G-325A (one for you and one for your alien).
  • Completed I-864 - Affidavit of Support with supporting documentation, which includes:
  1. Copy of Sponsor's birth certificate proving U.S. Citizenship.
  2. A copy of Sponsor's Individual Federal Income Tax Return, including W-2's for the most recent tax year, or a statement and/or evidence describing why you were not required to file.

I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization - Checklist

Along with the I-765 form you will need to submit the following:

  • There is no filing fee since you are filing this from with the I-130 and I-485.
  • Two identical color passport-style photos of the alien taken within 30 days of submitting this form. (See specific instructions about the photos on page 6 of the I-765 Instructions # 2B under "Required Docmentation") Don't forget that you must print the alien's name on the back of each photo. (place these photos in a small plastic bag)Copy of form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record (front and back), if available.
  • A copy of a Federal Government-issued identity document, such as a passport showing your picture, name, and date of birth.

Assembly and Submission

You have finally finished the first step in this process!! And you were able to do it all YOURSELF, without paying an attorney $2,500.00 of your hard-earned money!!

You are ready to assemble everything for mailing. Here is the way I would assemble everything.

  1. I-130 - with filing fee of $420.00 and supporting documents all clipped together.
  2. I-131 - with a copy of identity page of passport, clipped together, but separate from #1.
  3. I-485 - with filing fee of $985.00 and supporting documents clipped together. Then include the following behind it:
  • I-693 - with supporting documents clipped together.
  • Both G-325A's clipped together.
  • I-864 and supporting documents clipped together.
  • Now clip everything in #3 together with a larger binder clip.

4. I-765 with supporting documents clipped together and separate from 1, 2 and 3.

Assemble in 1, 2, 3, order and put into a large sturdy, reinforced envelope so the envelope won't tear open in transit (do not fold the documents) .


When you're finished, send the entire package to the address indicated in the I-485 Instructions. In my case, I submitted my entire packet to :


P.O. Box 805887

Chicago, IL 60680-4120

You can also send your documents EXPRESS if you wish, to a different address, on page 6 of the I-485 Instructions.

Now, the Instructions for submitting these forms do not say anything about sending your package of documents Certified Mail. But to be on the safe side, I would certainly pay the extra fee to the post office and send them certified. This way you will receive written notification that the USCIS signed for, and received your documents. Save this receipt and keep in your records.


You Did It !!!

Now give yourself a pat on the back. You are on your way to keeping your alien in the house!

I am not leaving you on your own. I will be writing more about this process, so stay tuned for instructions on the steps to come.

I wish you all the best in this process and I hope that you have benefited from this article and I welcome any feedback you might have. If I have inadvertantly left something out, please let me know and I will make the correction. Or, if you have any questions you would like to ask me that weren't covered in the article, I would be happy to answer them.

© Copyright RLucas 2012. All Rights Reserved.


Submit a Comment

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    Thank you so much for your article!! I have just started this process and after reading your article I have became a little more confident that I can get a handle on all this paperwork.

  • rgalloway56 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rhonda Darlene Lucas 

    4 years ago from Tucson

    Levi - Thanks for your response. After writing this article, my husband had to return to his country to handle some legal and personal business, Once he left the U.S., everything changed. We had to follow a different process. He could legally return to the U.S., but only on a 90-day tourist visa. Rather than bearing the expense of him traveling back and forth, we chose to have him stay in his country until the entire immigration process was complete. This was difficult and I am in the process of writing another article on that whole experience. I would be glad to answer any questions you have if you leave your email here in your comment. Once I receive your email address, I will delete the comment so your email address doesn't stay posted. That way we can have private discussions.

    I will be glad to help if I can. I am convinced that there is no need to pay an attorney if a person educates himself and keeps in touch with U.S.C.I.S. I will share what I have learned. I hope to hear from you.

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    Are there any other steps?

  • profile image


    4 years ago

    I've been reading for weeks and this IS excellent, accurate and superior to many other sources!

  • rgalloway56 profile imageAUTHOR

    Rhonda Darlene Lucas 

    6 years ago from Tucson

    Thank you so so much!! I spent hours and hours putting it all together and trying to make it easy to understand. It's nice to receive recognition.

  • profile image


    6 years ago



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