We often receive questions from people interested in immigrating to the 🇺🇸 United States about the specific documents they need to have to begin the process. 158 Million people show interest in immigrating to the U.S. annually, 32 Million begin the process, and only 0.9 Million are permitted to enter US legally according to the Cato Institute, a major policy research organization collecting information about U.S. immigration. How come fewer than 0.6% of those interested in becoming legal immigrants make it? It is the paperwork that sets the winners apart.
The specific documents required for a new immigrant in the USA can vary depending on their immigration status and the purpose of their immigration. However, some common documents that many immigrants may need include:
Visa or Immigration Approval Notice
The U.S. government issues this official document granting permission to enter and stay in the country for a specific purpose, such as an immigrant visa, non-immigrant visa, or green card approval notice.
For international travel and as a form of identification, the immigrant’s home country requires a valid passport.
This is the Arrival/Departure Record, issued to most non-immigrants upon entry to the United States. It shows the date of entry, visa class, and authorized period of stay.
Form DS-260 or DS-160
This is an online visa application form that immigrants may need to complete before entering the U.S., depending on their visa category.
Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is for immigrants who are in the U.S. and eligible to apply for a green card (permanent resident status) without leaving the country.
Form I-766 or I-765
Employment Authorization Document (EAD) or Application for Employment Authorization. This document allows immigrants to work legally in the U.S., provided they are eligible.
Application for Travel Document. This form allows immigrants who have a pending adjustment of status applications or are in certain protected categories to travel outside the U.S. and return without jeopardizing their immigration status.
Form I-864: Affidavit of Support
This form is a requirement for family-based immigrants, where a sponsor agrees to financially support the immigrant and ensure they do not become a public charge.
Medical Examination Results
Some immigrants must undergo a medical examination by an authorized physician and present the results as part of the immigration process.
Criminal Records and Police Certificates
Immigrants may need to provide police clearance certificates from their home country or any other country they lived in for an extended period.
Marriage Certificate or Proof of Relationship (if applicable)
Spouses of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents may need to provide proof of their marital relationship.
Educational and Professional Certificates
Immigrants with specialized skills or qualifications may need to provide evidence of their education and work experience.
U.S. Immigration process is always complex, and the required documents can differ based on individual circumstances. They recommend new immigrants consult with a qualified immigration attorney or visit the official U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most up-to-date and accurate information relevant to their situation.