Do You Need a Birth Certificate to Get a Green Card?

Last updated September 3rd, 2021

A green card is a permit allowing foreign nationals to permanently live and work within the United States. When applying for this type of residence status, a copy of the applicant’s birth certificate must usually be submitted.

However, when applying for a family-sponsored green card, the US citizen or green card holder to which the foreign national is related must also submit a copy of their own birth certificate.

Keep reading to learn about the birth certificate requirements when obtaining a green card within the United States.

Family-Based or Marriage-Based Green Cards

Foreign nationals seeking green cards who have family members that are US citizens or green card holders should fill out Form I-130 (known as a “Petition for Alien Relative”). This petition is filed to prove that a valid family relationship exists between both parties.

Also known as a family sponsorship form, submitting the I-30 petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the first step in obtaining a family-based green card. The I-130 form is also used to prove that the marriage is legally valid when applying for a marriage-based green card.

Filing this petition establishes the foreign national's place in line for an available green card, which makes it an essential step in the process. The applicant’s place in line is determined by the date on which the I-30 application is received by the USCIS. However, if they are the spouse, parent, or unmarried child of a US citizen, they are able to skip the line entirely.

When an individual is filing an I-30 form, it is strictly required that their relative which holds US citizenship or a green card, also submits a certified copy of their birth certificate, among other supporting documents.

If you have a partner or family member who is applying for a US green card, and you don’t have a copy of your birth certificate, you can quickly order a certified copy online. Requesting a copy of your birth certificate online saves you the hassle and time of going in person to a vital records office.

What If I Can’t Obtain a Copy of My Birth Certificate?

The US department of state maintains a reciprocity schedule, which provides guidance on obtaining supporting documents for green card applications. This resource provides information on where you can obtain an official copy of any document you require, as well as how much it will cost.

If the reciprocity table states that a birth certificate is not available for your country, or you do not succeed in obtaining one, you will need to submit secondary evidence of your birth and parents. However, it’s important that you show that you have made efforts to get a copy.

What Information Should Be Included in My Birth Certificate?

For a birth certificate to be legally valid, it must either be the original document or a certified copy. A certified copy of a birth certificate must have the seal and signature of an official state registrar, as well as the date on which it was filed with the registrar’s office.

For the birth certificate of a US citizen or foreign national to be valid, it should include the following information:

  • The individual's full name
  • The date of birth (which may include the time)
  • The child’s sex
  • The city, county, state, and country of birth
  • The names of both parents
  • Additional details about the birth
  • An official seal

A long-form birth certificate may also include additional information, such as the time of birth or handprints/footprints of the individual when they were a child. The birthdates, residences, and birth locations of the parents might also be present.

If your birth certificate or other supporting documents are in a language other than English, you will need to provide certified English translations and submit them alongside your documents.