Permanent resident in the USA

I’ve already wrote a bit on my experiences with US immigration and visas. But, since I have two friends going through the permanent residency process, I figured there would be some other people out there that might find this information useful. Some notes to start us out:

– I didn’t use a lawyer. Some people do, but I saw the process as doable by myself.
– The lingo of the applications follows this format: Petitioner = me (Canadian), Sponsor = Anna (American)
– The forms all have pretty good explanations on requirements. You will need a number of passport photos, as well as certified copies of your birth certificates (you and sponsor/spouse). You also will need to bring your passport the with I-94 attached.
– The sumittal fees for forms and additional permits for work and travel add up to over $1000. Not a big deal for me, but there is little doubt that indentured servitude is alive and well in the USA.
– To speak with an Immigration Information Officer (to start the I-485 filing process) you must make an appointment via the Internet at You must bring the printout of your INFOPASS appointment and a photo ID with you. Expect everyone that works there to be a bit pissy with you.
– 1-800-375-5283 is the USCIS help line. They are very helpful for figuring out the form requirements and special case type questions.

The whole application for residency really boils down to two main forms, and their dependencies:

I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative $190

G-325A – Biographic Information – One for the petitioner, one for the sponsor

I-485 – Application To Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $325

G-325A – I used my existing G-325A from above
I-693 – Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status – It is best if you do this before you submit your paperwork. It cost me around $130, as you have to use one of their civil surgeons (click here to find). The doctor will give you a sealed I-693 to be submitted along with the I-485. Best if you have your vaccination history, or you may need to get some shots.
I-864 – Affidavit of Support – “To show that an intending immigrant has adequate means of financial support and is not likely to become a public charge.” In other words, to show your spouse can support your sorry ass, even if that’s not the current situation.
I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization $180 – You probably want to work while your application is being processed, you need to do this one.
I-131 – Advance Parole (Travel Document) $170 – This lets you travel out of the US while your application is being processed. Once your I-131 application is approved, you will be sent two copies of form I-512 (took a couple months for me). You must carry both copies when you travel out of the US for the first time. On your first entry back into the states, the USCIS office will take one of the copies. Keep the other copy for future travel.

Think you’re all done? Hahah, no. After you file, you will receive a notice in the mail from the USCIS to go get finger printed. It is $70 and relatively quick.

Some time later, you may be called in to be interviewed. Click here to read about my super happy fun time experience with that.

Eventually, a wait of nine months in my case, you will receive a card in the mail saying you are a permanent resident. If you had been married less than two years, you also get to be interviewed in two years to make sure you are legit. Good times.

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  1. I really can’t imagine someone doing this with out very good understanding of English and some serious support. Makes you wonder how many people get screwed over trying to become residents.

  2. My wife (from México) and I had to do the same thing. When you get married, the U.S. pretty much has to take you (although they sure don’t make it easy), but there ISN’T a method for those who don’t get married (that is, for Mexicans).

    It took 4 months for our papers to process, and we hired a lawyer just to make sure we didn’t screw it up. Congratulations on the green card!

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