Form I-130 Checklist for Spouses: Starting the Immigration Process

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Happy couple after using an I-130 checklist for spouses

The requirements for petitioning a foreign citizen spouse for permanent residence (green card) are more exhaustive than any other relationship. When filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, the petitioner must also submit other supporting documents to evidence the relationship. We’ve developed an I-130 checklist for spouses to help you through this process.

Immigration officials, from the U.S. Department of State and also U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), have an additional layer of scrutiny for spousal relationships. After all, sham marriages are one of the most common ways to commit green card fraud. Immigration officials want to be sure that your spouse is obtaining a green card based on a genuine relationship.

This I-130 checklist assumes that you are filing the petition only. In most cases, foreign national spouse who are also physically present in the United States can "adjust status" to permanent resident. If you are filing Form I-130 as part of the adjustment of status process, you'll need to file additional forms and additional requirements may apply. If you are using CitizenPath’s services to prepare an adjustment of status application, our filing instructions will detail the necessary supporting documents for your situation.

I-130 Checklist Before You Begin Preparing the Petition

Before you begin preparing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, it’s helpful to review an I-130 checklist of items that you’ll need to prepare the form.

Petitioner’s Information

The petitioner is the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is filing the petition. The petitioner preparing Form I-130 must provide details about:

  • Address history for the past five years
  • Dates that previous marriage(s) ended (if any)
  • Employment history for the past five years
  • Details about previously filed petition for the beneficiary or any other foreign nationals
Beneficiary’s Information

The beneficiary is the intending immigrant who will apply for permanent residence (green card) in the United States. The beneficiary must provide details about:

  • Address history for the past five years
  • Dates that previous marriage(s) ended (if any)
  • Employment history for the past five years
  • Form I-94 record (if presently in the U.S.)
  • Any previous immigration proceedings

I-130 Checklist of Items to Submit with Spousal Petition

When filing Form I-130, it’s extremely important to prepare a complete petition package that includes all of the necessary supporting documents. USCIS may have to send a Request for Evidence (RFE) if any information is missing. This additional step will likely lengthen the time it takes USCIS to approve the petition. On the other hand, a well-prepared petition package will improve you chances of a quick I-130 processing time.

CitizenPath customer using checklist
  • USCIS Filing Fee

    Submit the I-130 filing fee. Make the check or money order payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security or by with credit card using Form G-1450.

  • Cover Letter (optional)

    USCIS does not require a cover letter. However, a cover letter can help itemize the documents that you are submitting and clarify any extraordinary circumstances that you may have. Review an example I-130 cover letter.

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

    Submit an accurately prepared petition. The best way to keep your case on schedule is to fill out the form correctly and neatly. Don’t forget to sign.

  • Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary

    USCIS requires this supplement, only if the beneficiary is a spouse. If your spouse is outside the United States, he or she is not required to sign Form I-130A.

  • Proof of Status

    If you are a U.S. citizen, submit a photocopy of a birth certificate (if U.S. born), U.S. passport, naturalization certificate, certificate of citizenship, or consular report of birth abroad. If you are a lawful permanent resident, submit a photocopy of both sides of your green card or other proof of permanent residence.

  • Marriage Certificate

    Include a copy of your marriage certificate to prove that there is a legal spousal relationship recognized by the governmental body where the marriage was performed.

  • Proof of Previous Marriages Terminated

    If either you or your spouse were previously married, submit copies of documents showing that all prior marriages were legally terminated such as a divorce decree or death certificate (if the marriage was terminated due to the death of a spouse).

  • Passport-Style Photos

    Submit two passport-style color photos of yourself and two passport-style color photos of your spouse taken within 30 days of filing the petition. (The requirement is waived for the beneficiary if they are residing outside the United States.)

  • Evidence of a Bona Fide Marriage

    Include evidence that you have a bona fide marriage. It’s important to demonstrate you married for genuine reasons, not to evade U.S. immigration laws for the purposes of obtaining a green card. You’ll need to submit copies of documents that show evidence of shared financials liabilities, assets, insurance, tax filings, birth certificates of child born in to the marriage, or other documents that you feel shows your bona fide relationship. Read Evidence of Bona Fide Marriage to Support a Spousal I-130 Petition for more extensive information and example evidence.

Different Supporting Documents for Different Cases

The example I-130 checklist described above is for a typical case. Depending on your specific case and how you answers questions on the petition, additional documents and/or evidence may be required at the time of filing.

Upon completing the Immigrant Visa Petition Package on you will receive a more detailed I-130 checklist of items to submit with the spousal petition. The personalized instructions are based on your answers in the petition. Therefore, special considerations for factors like children, visa overstays and other questions will be addressed (if they apply to you).

What about Form G-325A?

Prior to the 02/27/2017 edition of Form I-130, USCIS required petitioners to submit a completed Form G-325A, Biographic Information, for both spouses (petitioner and beneficiary) with the Form I-130. However, USCIS no longer requires this form. That’s because the biographic information questions are now a part of Form I-130 and Form I-130A. The petitioner’s biographic information is on the Form I-130, and the beneficiary’s information is on the Form I-130A. Do not submit Form G-325A with your petition.

Visa Overstays and Unlawful Presence

Certain individuals who have accumulated a period of “unlawful presence” in the United States could have a legal obstacle to getting a green card. Unlawful presence includes any time spent in the U.S. by a foreign national:

  • Who entered the U.S. without inspection and admission or parole; or
  • Whose lawful immigration status expired or was rescinded, revoked, or otherwise terminated.

Therefore, any time spent in the U.S. beyond what is authorized on an I-94 record is a period of unlawful presence. This is also known as a visa overstay. As a general rule, persons that have a period of unauthorized stay should seek the assistance of an immigration attorney when applying for a green card.

There is an exception for the immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. Therefore, if you are a U.S. citizen petitioning a spouse that’s currently in the United States with an overstayed visa, your spouse may be able to adjust status.

Automate Your Checklist

CitizenPath provides simple, affordable, step-by-step guidance through USCIS immigration applications. Individuals, attorneys and non-profits use the service on desktop or mobile device to prepare immigration forms accurately, avoiding costly delays. CitizenPath allows users to try the service for free and provides a 100% money-back guarantee that USCIS will approve the application or petition. We provide support for the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), and several other immigration services.

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