The task of getting a green card for your Chinese wife may seem overwhelming and at times impossible. There is so much red tape and it is very difficult to decide what course of action is the best to take. Here is a short guide to help you get started on the process and be able to prepare for what is coming if you are getting ready to apply for a green card for your spouse.
Know your forms
Applying for a Green Card is an extremely bureaucratic process. There are many forms to fill out and they must be filed out correctly. You will be required to know your wife’s information such as past addresses and all past jobs of your adult lives. Some of the forms you will encounter to get your spouse’s green card are:
1) I-130 the petition for a green card
2) G-230a (one for each of you)
3) I-864 (for the petitioner and any joint-sponsors)
4) DS-230 which is the visa application
6) I-693 which is the biometrics exam
Those who intend to adjust their spouse’s status from another type of American visa to a green card, will also be required to fill out a seventh form:
All of these forms can be obtained online free of charge.
Get your papers together
In order to get a green card there are a few things that are required:
- Passport sized photos
- Birth certificates of joint-sponsors, the petitioner and the beneficiary
- Passport copies for the petitioner and beneficiary
- Clearance of criminal record for the beneficiary in each country they have lived in for more than 12 months.
- Evidence of bona fide marriage
Some of these can be a pain to get so it is best to start working on them once you know about them instead of waiting for them to be requested.
Know where to go
Petitioners living in the states go through a similar, but different process than those who are living in China and have lived there over 6 months. If you have lived in China you must travel to file in either Guangzhou’s or Beijing USCIS field offices depending on where you are living in China.
Those residing in the United States may mail their petitions (form I-130 and accompanying documents) to the USCIS lockbox facilities in Chicago or Phoenix depending on where you reside in the US. Those who are filing from within China need to pay close attention to any online information to make sure that it is pertaining to their situation and not simply for those living within the US.
Get help from friends who have gone through this process before
This tip can be a double-edged sword. People who have already gotten green cards for their spouse can really help prepare you for the process that is ahead, but their situation will not necessarily automatically translate to your situation. Remember not to take your friends word as the absolute truth, because the green card and visa process is changing year to year. As of 2013 there has been a new fee added after receiving the visa and the process of scheduling the visa interview has changed.
Know your rights
If you feel like you and your spouse have been treated unfairly in the visa process, it might be helpful to contact your lawyers and representatives to either call the Visa Center or consulate you are having your visa processed in or write letters on your behalf. It is best to have an experienced lawyer who knows what rights you have and, at times, which rights have been violated. We recommend having a lawyer throughout the process.
This is just an overview of the process of getting a green card. There is a lot of information out there. It is best to hire a lawyer who works with the visa process and is familiar with China specifically. You can also find more information on these websites: http://www.travel.state.gov/, http://guangzhou.usembassy-china.org.cn/. If all goes well you will be with your wife in America in no time. Do your research do not get discouraged. We wish you the best of luck!