Marriage Green Card Checklist – Foreign Spouse is Abroad

Marriage Green Card Checklist – Foreign Spouse is Abroad

Let us help you start your application today!

In this article you will find the marriage green card checklist of documents if the foreign spouse lives abroad.

Marriage Green Card Checklist

If the foreign spouse applying for a green resides abroad, the green card application process is known as “Consular Processing“.

  • U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse is called a “Petitioner”
  • Foreign spouse seeking green card is called a “Beneficiary”

If a foreign spouse applying for a green card lives in the U.S., the application process will be called “Adjustment of Status“. You can find the checklist of required documents for Adjustment of Status when both spouses are in the U.S. here.

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

These are all the USCIS forms that you need to file:

You will need to submit the following documents with your forms:

  • 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 (if income doesn’t meet the requirements)
  • Official IRS transcripts or federal tax returns
  • Beneficiary’s birth certificate
  • Foreign passport
  • Foreign photo ID
  • Two identical color passport-style photographs (both spouses)
  • Copy of visa(s)
  • I-94 record(s)
  • Immunization or vaccination records
  • Evidence of marriage
  • Criminal records (if any)
  • Military records (if any)

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

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

The form’s purpose:

  • 1st step of the marriage-based petition
  • Used to establish a relationship between a U.S. citizen, or permanent resident and a foreign spouse, to sponsor them for a green card.

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
  • A green card holder can file the same form for their spouses

Form I-130 documents checklist:

Provide photocopies or scanned copies only

Document typeExamples of supporting documentsWho needs to provide it?
Evidence of U.S. Citizenship

One of the following:

  • 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
Marriage certificate and name change
  • 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 
  • Death Certificate
Both spouses
Passport-style color photographs
  • Two identical color U.S. passport-style photographs 
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’re filing Form I-130 for your spouse, Form I-130A MUST be submitted to USCIS too
  • Beneficiary (foreign spouse) fills out and signs 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 beneficiary
  • If beneficiary is residing abroad, the Form I-130A needs to be filled out but USCIS accepts unsigned Forms I-130A.

Form I-130A documents checklist:

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 petitioner has enough financial resources to sponsor an immigrant

Who Needs to Sign it?

  • It must be signed by petitioner, 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 documents checklist: 

Provide photocopies or scanned copies only

Document typeExamples of supporting documentsWho needs to provide it?
Tax records
  • Federal tax returns or IRS tax transcripts for the last 3 years
  • W-2 forms for the last 3 years
  • 1099 forms for the last 3 years

Evidence of Joint Asset Value

(only if petitioner doesn’t meet the income requirements)

  • Existing bank account statements for the last 12 months

If you’re using a house as an asset:

  • Ownership document, like title or deed
  •  A recent appraisal, or a recent tax assessment
  •  Loan or mortgages statements 

If you are using a second vehicle:

  • Ownership document
  • A statement showing the vehicle’s current value
Financial sponsor(s) and/or spouse seeking green card.

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

The form’s purpose:

The National Visa Center is part of the United States Department of State, which processes all immigrant visa applications for beneficiaries living outside the United States and applying through their local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Who Needs to Sign it?

  • Beneficiary must fill out this form

Form DS-260 documents checklist 

Provide scanned copies only

Document typeExamples of supporting documentsWho needs to provide it?
Birth certificate and passport
  • Birth certificate
  • Current passport (biographic page)
Proof of lawful marriage
  • Marriage Certificate, and
  • Evidence of termination of any prior marriage(s), like divorce decree (if any)
Other Documents (if applicable)
  • 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 

5. Form DS-261, Online Choice of Address and Agent (optional)

The form’s purpose:

  • Just like the Form DS-260, it’s an online form, which must be completed and submitted through the National Visa Center.
  • The form’s purpose is informing the U.S. governmentt how to communicate with applicant during the immigrant visa application.