When applying for permanent residency, you must submit proof of birth to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of State. A birth certificate shows where you’re from and helps prove that you’re eligible for permanent residency. It also confirms your identity. However, your birth certificate must meet certain criteria to be accepted as part of your application.

Foreign Birth Certificates and Your Green Card Application

If you or a family member are applying for a green card based on family or marriage, you must give the U.S. government a copy of your birth certificate. If you already have, you are all set!

But don’t stress if you can’t find your birth certificate — you can still start your green card application without it.

Birth Certificate Requirements

Two organizations oversee green cards: the Department of State and USCIS. They both look at your birth certificate to determine if it is legitimate.

Your birth certificate must provide the following information:

  • Your full name
  • Your parents’ full names
  • Your birth date
  • Where you were born
  • The birth registration date

If your birth certificate isn’t in English, you will need to get it translated. You should submit the original birth certificate along with the translated version.

Getting a Copy of Your Birth Certificate

If you need a copy of your birth certificate, you will need to go to the right government agency. If you were born in the U.S., you need to visit the office of vital records in the state where you were born.

If you were born outside the U.S., you will need to visit the U.S. Department of State’s website. Their website has a list of the authorities that issue birth certificates in each country, plus the current fee and steps to get an official copy.

To find your country, just click on the first letter of your country’s name, choose your country, and look for the “Birth, Death, Burial Certificates” tab. That’s where you’ll find the info you need.

If the information for your country says that birth certificates are “unavailable” or “nonexistent,” you will need to get your birth certificate directly from the issuing authority in your country of birth.

Certificate of Non-Availability

You do not need to worry if your birth certificate doesn’t meet the requirements. You can still move forward with your application for permanent residency by submitting it with secondary evidence. If your birth certificate is unavailable, you will need to prove it to immigration officials. It’s not enough to just say you lost the original.

Usually, to prove that your birth certificate is unavailable, you must submit a “Certificate of Non-Availability.” It is essentially a certificate from the proper government authority saying that they can’t give you a birth certificate because there’s no official record of your birth. This certificate or letter should state why they can’t issue a birth certificate.

What Counts as Secondary Evidence?

Here are some examples of what could be considered secondary evidence:

  • Affidavits of birth – The easiest way to prove your identity is by getting two affidavits from people who know about your birth, like your parents. These affidavits will need to be signed and sworn in front of a notary. The notary then verifies your identity and that you signed the document. When you go, make sure to bring a valid ID, the affidavit, and any cash you might need for the notarial services.
  • Other secondary evidence – Secondary evidence supports the information on your birth certificate or your birth in general. It should show your birth date and place, which is essential to your immigration application. Things like religious or school records can work well, like school registration papers or baptismal certificates. Medical records might help too, depending on where you’re from. You could also present the results from a DNA test.

Get Help from Our Immigration Attorneys Today

Are you unsure about your foreign birth certificate and its impact on your immigration journey? The American Immigration Law Group is here to help. Our team of experienced immigration lawyers can help you navigate the complexities of obtaining and evaluating foreign birth certificates.

Whether you’re facing non-compliance issues, unavailability concerns, or need assistance with secondary evidence, we can help. Contact the American Immigration Law Group today for a confidential consultation. You can reach us through our secure contact form or by phone at 314-416-8000 to get started today.