Applying for a Green Card? Tips for Form G-325A

If you're applying for an immigrant visa or permanent residency, you must supply USCIS with background information on yourself. Here are a few things you should know.

Almost everyone applying for an immigrant visa or green card (lawful permanent residence) will have to fill out Form G-325A at some point along the way. In fact, people applying for green cards based on marriage have to fill them out at the very beginning of the process, in combination with the I-130 visa petition – and then the immigrant will have to fill out the same form again, if he or she later adjusts status in the United States.

Where to Get the Form

The form is issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, and available for free download on its website. (See Official Immigration Forms: Always Free From The U.S. Government, for details.)

Who Is This Form For?

One notable exception is if you are under age 14 or over age 79. In such a case, you need you need not fill out Form G-325A.

The purpose of Form G-325A is to supply the U.S. government with data that allows it to check your background. This doesn’t mean the immigration authorities will follow up on all the information – but it gives them an opportunity to do so if they suspect that something about your application is amiss, and information with which to spot potential issues.

Line-By-Line Tips

Most of Form G-325A is self-explanatory. Many of the questions require filling in the dates of various events in your life. If you really can’t remember or are unable to find out an exact date, enter whatever you can remember, such as the year. Alternately, you can simply say "unknown," but if you overuse the "unknowns," USCIS may return your entire application for another try. Since the questions are not numbered, we refer to them by the approximate line, in order.

Lines 1 and 2 (Family Name, etc.): Your "File Number" or "A#," if you have one, would be an eight- or nine-digit number starting with the letter A that the Department of Homeland Security assigned to you, most likely in connection with a green card application or deportation proceedings. If you have had no such prior contact with immigration-related services, however, you probably do not have an A-number, and can leave this blank.

Line 3 (Father/Mother): Self-explanatory.

Line 4 (Current Husband or Wife): Self-explanatory.

Line 5 (Former Husbands or Wives): Self-explanatory – but very important to fill in, particularly if you are applying based on marriage. USCIS will want to make very sure that your previous marriages, if any, are truly over and that none of them involved fraudulent efforts to get a green card.

Line 7 (Applicant’s residence last five years): Be careful here. List these addresses in reverse chronological order, starting with your most recent address and working your way down the last five years. For example, if you live in Annapolis now but lived in Baltimore before, your Annapolis address will go on the top line. (If you’re not filling out the form on a computer screen, it’s best to practice making this list on another sheet of paper before you enter the information.)

Line 12 (Applicant’s last address outside the United States of more than one year): This may overlap with one of the addresses in Line 6 -- that’s okay.

Line 13 (Applicant’s employment last five years): As with Line 6, be careful to enter this information in reverse chronological order. If you’ve been unemployed, self-employed, a student, or were a housewife or house-husband, say so here—in other words, try not to leave anything blank. If you are an immigrant who’s been working illegally in the United States, name your employers. To date, USCIS has not gone after the employers, and you have an obligation not to lie on this form. (Just look at that big statement at the bottom, saying "Severe penalties are provided by law for knowingly and willfully falsifying or concealing a material fact.")

If you presented false documents to employers so that you could work illegally in the United States, such as showing a fake green card or Social Security card, see a lawyer. Showing false documents is a ground of inadmissibility, meaning that it can make you ineligible for a U.S. visa or green card. Simply using a fake Social Security number, however, without showing a fake Social Security card, is usually not considered a problem.

Line 14 (Show below last occupation abroad if not listed above): People tend to overlook this line, because it’s so small—make sure you fill it in.

Line 19 (This form is submitted in connection with application for): Check "naturalization" if you are submitting it with Form N-400; "Status as permanent resident" if you are submitting it with Form I-485; and "Other" for any other form or status.

Line 20 (If your native alphabet uses non-Roman letters): This would apply to Russian, Chinese, and others whose native language is not written using the same alphabet as the English language does.

Line 21 (The dark-outlined box): Self-explanatory. Again, if you don’t have an A-number yet, you can leave that part blank.

Need More Help?

If you're going through the process to become a permanent U.S. resident, check out How to Get a Green Card, by Ilona Bray (Nolo). If you think your case may be complicated by your immigration status, history, or other issues, talk to a lawyer for legal advice and analysis of your options.

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