Disclaimer: This post is not about how to marry to stay in USA, and I do not support in any way people who choose to take that path. Information provided here is based on my personal experience and I recommended to everyone who is in situation where important decisions are to be made, please talk to a lawyer, or call USCIS office in your area. This information here is to be used simply as guideline.
Dear Au Pair,
Are you one of the lucky ones that has found a soul mate while being abroad? Are you looking around, asking and reading what to do from legal standpoint? Are you afraid you are making mistake?
I did it. I got married while being Au Pair. Stick with me and I will guide you through process, but first allow me to share my opinions, my fears and my regrets.
I am definitely not trying to promote or tell any au pair to get married for a green card. If you feel that can get you an “American dream” and get you out of your country, let me tell you something: “You are going from one prison to another one.” Green card or marriage will not bring you happiness and it will not be like in movies, especially coming out of Au Pair experience where you shared household, chores and responsibilities with two other adults. Marriage itself is -fu**ing hard-, and being married without love is gonna make your life living hell.
I got married. Out of love. I came to USA in 2012 and in that point I was so lucky, luckiest girl alive. I have been single for 2 years at that point, and yes, I wanted a boyfriend, I wanted love story. My idea was not to find a husband or stay in US. We met after I was in US for only 3 months and we started dating. Love story, romance, American boy who showed me American dream. I loved him. I loved us. I loved the idea of us, more than I loved us. I see that now.
Oh, by the way. I also got divorced. Next post might be about how to get divorced as an au pair. Awkward..
Long story short, he proposed after few months and I, out of fear to lose him, to lose, what I thought was love, I said yes. We got married one year after we started dating. It was great wedding and amazing day.
To let you know, once more, I do not recommend getting married for papers, and if you do, you might get discovered through process and it will mess your life so bad. If you desperately want to stay in US, there is so many other ways that I wrote about in post Should you stay or should you go?
Ok, here we go… Steps to take when you are ready to apply for a Permanent Resident Status
The first thing you have to do is get married. 🙂 Process here is the same for Au Pairs just like every other citizen. Check regulations and rules on Government’s website and see what applies for your State and County.
After your wedding day has passed and you got your marriage certificate back, you can start process immediately. Be aware that as of the moment you get married, your J-1 is no longer valid and you can not work. You are not technically illegal because you are in process of getting your marriage-based Green Card, but you are stuck in the house until you get your work permit – Employment Authorization (Form I-765) (it can arrive several weeks before your Green Card if you apply for it, otherwise your Green Card is your work permit, so you can just wait until approved before starting to look for a job).
First you will have to contact your relatives back home to send you birth certificate and proof of criminal history, and you will need someone certified (or not related to you, anyway) to translate it. Person who is eligible to translate those documents needs to be fluent in your native language and English as well.
Here is the list of all documents you will need:
1. Marriage Certificate
– make sure when you are getting original to also get at least 2-3 certified copies to hold on to.
2./3. BIRTH CERTIFICATE and translation / PROOF OF CRIMINAL HISTORY and translation
Please be advised that each of the birth certificates must include all of the following information:
Applicant’s Full Name
Full Date of birth (Month, Day and Year)
Place of birth (City, Province/State if applicable, country)
Full Name of Mother (BOTH First Name and Last Name – maiden or married name.)
Full Name of Father (Both First Name and Last Name.)
(Both first names and last names must be spelled out.)
A Birth Certificate is available from most countries.
-even before you get married (if you want to start process immediately after getting married) you can ask your family home to get you birth certificate and proof of criminal history. In my home country my parents went to Police Department and got it, but it all depends in which country you lived. Basically, its legal document that shows you haven’t been in jail or committed any crime.
-to translate those documents you can hire someone that speaks your native language and English, or have non-related friend to do it and sign it for you. With originals on your native language and copies on English, for both documents you will need to have the certification which format should include the certifier’s name, signature, address, and date of certification. A suggested format is:
Certification by Translator
I [typed name], certify that I am fluent (conversant) in the English and ________ languages, and that the above/attached document is an accurate translation of the document attached entitled ______________________________.
Date Typed Name
4. Copy of your passport with your visa page exposed
5. 2 passport style photos taken no more than 30 days before submitting paperwork
6. Evidence that you got married in good faith (Mutual apartment lease, joint bank account, mutual car loan, car insurance, phone bill, photos, love letters, emails, letter from one or two adults who witnessed your love story )
7.Medical Examination (USICS Form I-693)
-Print out and bring the most recent version of Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record, to your medical exam appointment: Fill out Part 1 of Form I-693 but do not sign until the civil surgeon instructs you to do so. The civil surgeon will use Form I-693 to document the results of your medical exam.
-Form Fee: $0. Note that USCIS does not regulate fees charged by civil surgeons for medical examinations. Fees may vary by physician. (I personally paid 250$)
-on this link you can find location of doctors designated by USCIS to preform exam.
8. Biographic Information Sheet (USCIS Form G-325A)
-you will need copy for you and your spouse
9. Affidavit of Support (USICS Form I- 864)
10.Petition for Alien Relative (USCIS Form I- 130)
-your spouse is filling this form for you
-Fee is 420$
11. Notice of Action (USCIS Form I-797 - you do not file, but after received needs to be sent back with rest of it)
12. Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (USCIS Form I-485)
-Fee is 985$ + 85$ Biometric Fees
13. Application for Employment Authorization (USCIS Form I-765)
For all the paperwork you do, make sure you keep a copy for yourself because you will need it later on, for interview, but also to keep record of what and how you did it.
Like I previously noted, I recommend you get a lawyer’s help at least for part of it all, just to remove stress and drama while waiting. It can take from 3 months up to a year to get your Green Card. It took me 6 months since I send papers to receive my permanent resident status. Before that it took us 4 months to collect al the papers.
After submitting documents as stated on USCIS website (please, take my blog as guidance, not as your only source of information) you wait for their Notice of Action and it will be explained what your next step is. Sometimes they need more proof or something is not correct and that can prolong process, but just take it slow. It will happen eventually.
Next step is doing biometrics. You will receive letter with address and date, as well with all the information what to bring and what not.
When preparing for your interview just remember you have nothing to hide. If there is big age difference between you and your spouse or any other trait that can make you look suspicious, make sure to gather as much as extra evidence and bring it to interview. They will ask you normal questions such as where did you meet, how long have you been together, when did you started living together, have you met his family, etc.. unless something is seriously off, no need to fake it, or stress about it. Usually, already on interview you can see and they might tell you how it went and when to expect your Permanent Resident Card.
*Note: Permanent Resident Card is marriage conditioned and valid only for 2 years. Minimum of 90 days before your green card expires you will have to apply for your non-conditional card that will be valid for 10 years.
That is all from me, if you have any questions feel free to ask 🙂
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