How to apply

Permanent residence based on marriage

Follow the steps below to apply for permanent residence based on marriage. You will file your forms directly with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

We hope the information below helps you understand the general process, but it is not legal advice. You may wish to consult an immigration attorney.

You cannot apply for permanent residence if you have had a J-1 visa with a two-year home residency requirement that has not been fulfilled or waived.

Complete Form I-485 and gather supporting documents

Form I-485 is your application to adjust your status to permanent resident. You and each dependent must file all of the documents below.

The application requires many documents, so allow sufficient time to gather and complete all of them. If you have questions, we encourage you to contact us.

If you are in K-1 status, you have already provided some of the documentation below for your I-129K petition. You do not need to submit birth certificates, death or divorce decrees, the G-325A for the U.S. citizen spouse, the I-130 petition for alien relative, or the I-693 medical exam.

In Part 2 of Form I-485, check box a. if you are applying based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. Supplement A is not required unless you are in the United States illegally.

You will need to provide a separate payment of $1440 for each applicant, including a $950 fee for each child under 14 who is filing with a parent. You may pay by personal check, money order, or certified check, made payable to the Department of Homeland Security. Or you may pay by credit card via Form G-1450. Staple a separate check or Form G-1450 to each I-485 form.

Please check the Form I-485 instructions to confirm the fee amount before mailing.

The photos must meet the Department of State’s requirements for passport photos. Print the person’s name on the back in pencil, place the photos in a separate envelope or plastic bag, and staple the bag or envelope to the I-485 form.

The birth certificate must show your parents' names. A passport is not an acceptable substitute for a birth certificate. Learn more.

Form I-864 is the affidavit of support. Also see Form I-864P, which will help you determine your minimum income requirement to complete Form I-864.

A designated USCIS civil surgeon must complete and seal this form, which is a report of medical examinations and vaccination records. Students and spouses may use the designated civil surgeons at the IU Health Center. Download the form, review the vaccination requirements, and find a civil surgeon on USCIS’s Form I-693 page.

Supply a photocopy of your passport ID page, expiration page, and all U.S. visa pages.

Include the following:

  • A photocopy of your most recent I-94 from your most recent entry into the United States
  • A statement that lists all previous periods of stay and visa status in the United States, including copies of related documents (I-20s, IAP-66s, DS-2019s, I-797s), if possible
  • Your Exchange Visitor waiver letter, if applicable

Your U.S. spouse must complete Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for you and each of your children. There is a $420 fee for each form.

Submit a photocopy of your U.S. citizen spouse’s birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or ID page from a passport.

You do not have to provide other evidence that your marriage is legitimate, but your interview with USCIS will address this topic.

If you or your spouse has been married before, include photocopies of any divorce decrees and death certificates from all previous marriages for both of you.

If you want confirmation that the USCIS facility receives your application, file Form G-1145 with your application. You will receive a text message, email, or both when USCIS receives your application. This service is free of charge.

You may have travel restrictions while your application for permanent residence is being processed, which can take a long time. If you plan to travel abroad, you will probably need to file Form I-131 to avoid canceling your application.

You can file the I-131 with your I-485, or you can file the I-131 later with a photocopy of your I-485 receipt.

Learn more about travel while your application is being processed.

All documents that are not in English must be translated. You should use a translator, such as a friend or colleague. You should not translate your own documents. The translation must be accompanied by a certification from the translator but does not have to be notarized. The following is an acceptable example of certification:

I, [Name of Translator], hereby certify that I am competent to translate from the [Name of language] language into English and that the attached/above is an accurate translation of the original [Birth/Marriage/Other] document.

Name of translator__________

Prepare a cover sheet that lists all of the documentation that is included in your application.

Submit all forms and documents

Remember to keep a copy of everything you send to USCIS.

You will send Form I-485 and all supporting documents to a lockbox facility. They will be forwarded to the USCIS Service Center for processing. Please confirm the mailing address by checking the I-485 instructions before mailing.

Know your next steps

After you submit all of your forms and documents, you will wait for your petition to be adjudicated. After the I-485 petition is filed:

  • You will receive a receipt notice from USCIS, generally within two to four weeks.
  • Processing for any work authorization or travel authorization applications will take approximately three months.
  • When USCIS begins processing your I-485, you will receive a notice to go to the USCIS office in Indianapolis, where USCIS will record your fingerprints. (Applicants in South Bend and Gary will go to the Chicago office.)
  • After fingerprinting, you will receive a notice by mail. It will indicate either that you need to appear for an interview or that your application has been approved. Interviews are generally waived for employment-based petitions.
  • If your I-485 is approved, you will receive the Permanent Resident card by mail.
  • Please notify OIS when your Permanent Resident status is granted so that we can update your information in the Indiana University system.

Notify USCIS if your address changes

If you move while your application is being processed, you must give USCIS your new address. This is very important, because the U.S. Postal Service will not forward most USCIS letters with the rest of your mail.

Take these steps: