A birth certificate is one of the many supporting documents required to obtain a green card. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires both the sponsor and beneficiary to provide their birth certificates along with their applications.
The sponsor, the individual petitioning the U.S. government to award a green card to the applicant, will need to provide their birth certificate along with their Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative.
On the other hand, the beneficiary, the foreign national applying to become a green card holder, will need to provide their birth certificate with their Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
In this article, we will discuss important considerations you need to know about a birth certificate in relation to proving your eligibility for permanent residency in the United States. We’ll also explain the birth affidavit requirements and what to do if you cannot obtain a birth certificate from your birth country.
Why Is a Certified Copy of Your Birth Certificate Required for the Green Card Process?
A birth certificate is primarily used to prove your identity and citizenship for the green card process.
For example, you must provide proof of citizenship when sponsoring the applicant as a U.S. citizen. This is because certain applications, especially those sponsored by a U.S. citizen, such as a marriage-based green card, are usually given first preference by the USCIS. But that’s not the only reason the USCIS will want to see your birth certificate.
You must provide proof of your country of origin, if you’re a green card beneficiary, by obtaining a copy of your birth certificate.
A birth certificate, when used for immigration purposes, can be used to establish the following:
- The applicant’s country of citizenship
- The applicable fees for that particular individual
- The identity of the individual (name, age, parentage, date, and place of birth)
- Existence of derivative relationships
In the green card application, the term “derivative relationships or beneficiaries” refers to family members who are eligible to receive a green card based on their relationship with the principal beneficiary. These family members are called “derivatives” because they derive their eligibility for a green card from the principal applicant.
Examples of derivative beneficiaries in a green card application include the spouse and unmarried minor children of the principal applicant. These individuals are typically included in the same green card application as the principal applicant and are not required to file separate applications.
Therefore, a birth certificate can help establish this relationship, ensuring that the USCIS only approves eligible individuals.
Do You Need an Original Birth Certificate for a Green Card Interview?
Yes, in most cases, you will.
This is because the interviewer will likely want you to prove your identity and citizenship. Your birth certificate is one of the best ways to submit evidence of your birthplace.
Additionally, the interviewer may ask you questions about your birthplace and family history, so it can be helpful to have your birth certificate on hand in case they need any clarification.
However, there are situations where not having a birth certificate will not prevent you from applying for — and potentially obtaining — a green card. For instance, your testimony alone may be sufficient if you apply for asylum or classification as a refugee.
What if My Birth Certificate Is Not Available?
If you were born outside of the United States and did not have a birth certificate, you may be able to obtain a Record of Birth Abroad from the U.S. Department of State. This only applies if you were born abroad to a U.S. citizen. In that case, you’ll need a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), which serves as an official record of your claim to U.S. citizenship or nationality.
You can also obtain a certification of birth from your country of birth but it must be signed by the registrar or official in charge of birth records in your country of origin. This can be done by submitting it to the U.S. consulate or embassy for consideration.
In the U.S., you will obtain your birth certificate at the local vital records office in your State of birth. You can locate your local vital records office through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website.
Suppose you’re a foreign national, and you can’t get your original birth certificate from your country of birth. In that case, the U.S. Department of State has a reciprocity schedule that guides applicants on how to obtain this document.
But secondary evidence may be required if you still cannot obtain a birth certificate for any reason. Even so, you must prove that you made genuine efforts to obtain a certified copy of your original document.
If primary and secondary evidence is unavailable per immigration regulations, you must:
- Show that the required document does not exist or cannot be obtained. You can do this by providing a written statement from the relevant issuing authority. The statement should confirm that the primary record does not exist, and explain why it does not exist.
- Show that the secondary record does not exist as well.
- Provide two or more affidavits by individuals not related to the petition and have direct personal knowledge of the facts of your birth.
Affidavit for Birth Certificate for Green Card
You’ll need a notarized affidavit from either parent who is living or a close relative, or any other qualifying individual. The affidavit for the birth certificate for the green card should include the following:
- State the individual’s full name and contact information
- Include the individual’s location of birth
- Describe their relationship with you
- Mention your date and place of birth
- Mention the names of both of your parents
- Provide other descriptions of your specific situation
Examples of Secondary Evidence of Country of Birth
It is possible to obtain a green card or visa without a birth certificate. However, whether or not you will be successful will depend on the unique circumstances of your case.
Think of a situation where you cannot obtain your original birth certificate from your country of birth for reasons beyond your control. In that case, you will need to submit secondary evidence of your birth, such as baptismal, school, or hospital records.
What Are the Birth Certificate Requirements for an Application for a Green Card?
The ideal birth certificate should provide the following information:
- The owner’s full name
- The owner’s date and place of birth
- Both parent’s full names
- Registration date (must be within a year of your birth)
- Date of issue (can be issued at any time)
- The official logo of the appropriate government agency
What If My Birth Certificate is Not In English?
Birth certificates that are not in English should be translated by a certified translator in order to be used for adjustment of status.
Any of your friends, family members, or relatives can provide English translation provided they are fluent in English and the document’s original language.
However, the USCIS reserves the right to accept or reject the translations if they find valid reasons. Therefore, to avoid unexpected rejections, it’s always advisable to seek help from a professional document translator.