Most people find the process of preparing their immigration legal case very difficult and, at best, stressful. To help make the situation a little less stressful, I have created a basic checklist of immigration-related documents that any experienced immigration law attorney will ask you about when starting your immigration case. This checklist of basic documents should also be used by people filing their own immigration case.
For immigrants or those hoping to immigrate to the US:
1. Your passport, including the current unexpired passport and any old passports, if possible, please keep the old passport when renewing it. If you must provide your old passport to obtain a newly issued one, make a copy of the expired passport, including the biographical page and any stamped pages confirming your travel, to take with you in case you need it later.
2. Your I-94 card or your I-94W card. The I-94 card is on a white card that you must complete before entering the US The I-94W (also called a visa waiver) is a card that looks like the I-94 card but is green in color . Each member of the family should have their own card.
* It is important to note that under US immigration law, the expiration date on the I-94 or I-94W card is what controls how long you can stay in the US without requiring an extension. or violating their visa stay in the US Some immigrants think that because they have a visa page in their passport indicating that they have a 5 or 10 year visa, they can stay in the US for that entire time without leaving or requiring visa extensions or change of status. This is incorrect and will cause it to lose its status.
* Also, keep in mind that the I-94 or I-94W card is EXTREMELY important. You should make copies of the card (front and back) and keep the original in a safe place. You won’t be able to get a green card, fiancee visa, work visa, or any other visa in the US without proof of legal entry, which comes in the form of the I-94 or I-94W card.
3. Birth certificate in the original native language and attach a suitable translation with the correct translator’s certificate, signature, etc. You must bring your original birth certificate. You should NOT present the original with immigration as only one copy is needed, but keep the original birth certificate in a safe place in case immigration wants to see the original.
4. If you are married, then a marriage certificate with translation. Again, you must bring your original marriage certificate. File only one copy with USCIS and bring the original to the interview. If you are getting married in the US and do not have a copy or a certified copy of the marriage license, you can obtain a certified copy at www.USA.gov. The exact link is http://www.usa.gov/Citizen/Topics/Family_Issues/Vital_Docs.shtml.
5. If your country issues these, a family certificate listing you, your spouse, and all children (if applicable).
6. Divorce certificate (s) if applicable with translation, or death certificate and English translation if spouse is deceased. Again, bring the original with you, but submit only one copy to the USCIS.
7. Birth certificates and passports for each child and their spouse. All birth certificates must be translated as explained above in # 3 above. These are necessary to confirm the exact identity of each person, the exact spelling of their name, etc. Because USCIS will rely on the spelling of the birth certificate rather than the person’s passport, it must ensure that the translation is correct in terms of the exact spelling of each person’s name.
8. If entering on a B-1 business visitor visa, please bring your personal or business bank account from your home country, any proof of ownership of a business in your home country (if applicable), any professional organization to which it belongs. and a CV (i.e. resume). This information will be useful if you plan to file an investor visa here in the US or another type of work visa, such as opening a business in the US similar to one abroad.
9. If you have a bachelor’s degree from your foreign country, bring the actual college degree (copy is fine) and transcripts of classes completed at your school. This information will be necessary if you decide to apply for an H-1B visa or another type of work visa.
10. If you already reside in the US and file US income taxes, keep copies of each year you file taxes. You can get a copy directly from the IRS in case you haven’t already kept copies.
I hope the above basic checklist helps you put together the basic documents needed to file any immigration case in the US Please note that for specific types of cases such as fiancee visas, work visas, card cases residence by marriage, etc., additional documents will be needed. Below is a link where you can find more information on a specific type of case.