Documents you must have when you become a US Lawful Resident

Documents you must have when you become a US Lawful Resident

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Are you curious what documents you will always need to have with you if you are/become a US Lawful Resident or Citizen?  

Well, in this blogpost, we will provide you with the list of those required to have documents and put them in different categories based on priority, need, and use. 

Some Documents may or may not be applicable to you, depending on age, need, situation, or place of residence.

So, are you ready? Let’s jump into the details!


Immigration, Identity & Civil Status Documents 

1- Social Security Card

• Once you arrive to the US, you will automatically be assigned a social security number, and you should receive your SS Card no later than two to four weeks. I recommend you to visit the nearest Social Security Administration Office if you didn't receive your SS Card in that timeframe to check its delivery status, and ask them to provide you with at least your SS Number in an official document to use it temporarily till you get your card in the mail.

• You will always need your SSN to prove you are permitted to work in the US. You will also need your SSN to apply for any benefit, apply to school, open a bank account or credit card etc. This document is confidential, so be-careful who you share it with.  

2- Green Card

• Once you arrive to the US, you should receive your Green Card automatically in the mail no later than two to three months. You can always call USCIS for an update. 

• You will always need your GC to prove your lawful immigration status whether to get a job, admitted to school, open a bank account or re-enter to the US. This document is also confidential, so be-careful who you share it with.  

3- Identification Card " ID "

• You need to get your ID as soon as you get to the US, since it is the document everyone asks for to verify your identity. 

• You can get your ID from the nearest Department of Motor Vehicle facility "DMV" or Secretary of State. The facility name is different form state to another.

4- Driver License  " DL " 

• You need to get your DL as soon as you get to the US if you are planing to drive a vehicle. It can also be used as an identity verification document (with the new REAL ID rules, YOU CAN ONLY HAVE ONE IDENTIFICATION DOCUMENT, EITHER an ID OR a DL). Most states will allow you to drive in the US with your foreign DL temporarily (the period depends of the state of residence) till you get your US DL issued. 

• You can get your DL from the nearest Department of Motor Vehicle facility "DMV" or Secretary of State. The facility name is different form state to another.

5- Passport

• You need to always make sure your passport is valid for at least six month before you plan to travel with it. 

• If you are using a non US passport, you need to always take your Green Card with you.

• You can Apply for your US passport online or at any USPS (post office) if you are a US Citizen.

6- Consular Registration Card 

• Some countries require you to register yourself at the Embassy/Consulate of your origin once you establish your residency in the state where you reside. That will allow your Embassy/Consulate to handle all your civil matters and documents such as renewing and obtaining your passport, ID, birth certificate etc.

7- Naturalization Certificate

• Once you go through the naturalization process, and pass your test, you will be required to attend the Naturalization Ceremony, where you will officially become a US Citizen and be handed your Naturalization Certificate. It is the legal document proving your US Citizenship through Immigration.

8- Birth Certificate 

• Anyone born in the US can get their Birth certificate from the state vital records office or County Clerk's office of the city where they were born. It is the legal document proving your US Citizenship.

9- Marriage Certificate

• You can get your marriage certificate from the US state vital records office or County Clerk's office in the city where you live/got married. It is the single legal document proving your marriage to your partner.

Personal Documents

1- Selective Service Registration

• If you are a Male US Citizen or Male Lawful Resident, whose age 18 through 25, you MUST register online for the Selective Service once you arrive to the US. 

2- Tax Return

• Individuals are subject to a calendar tax year beginning Jan. 1 and ending Dec. 31. Tax returns in the U.S. are usually due on April 15 of the following year covering the calendar year period. You should Always file your tax return in time to avoid IRS tax penalties. 

3- Health Insurance

• Health Insurance is Optional in the United States; however, I highly recommend all of you to get health coverage, since healthcare services are very costly. 

4- Address Change

• Every time you move to a new place, even if it is across the street, or even in the same building but different unit, you are required to submit your Address Change online or at the post office "USPS". That will allow them to forward all your mail to the right address. 

   Vehicle and Housing Documents

1- Vehicle Title

• This is the legal document that proves your ownership of the vehicle. It is to be stored in a safe place at home. You will get your title once you register your car the first time.

• If you bought a used car, you and the seller need to fill in the vehicle title and both sign it, then you can take it with you the day you register your car at the DMV to apply for a new title under your name. 

2- Vehicle Lease/Rent Agreement

• This document is required to prove you are leasing/renting that vehicle, in case you were to be pulled over by a police officer. You will be provided this document by the dealership or car rental company on the day you get the vehicle.

3- Vehicle Registration Card

• To show that the vehicle is registered under the owner's name. Need to be renewed every year. 

• Some states provide you with a front windshield sticker; others, have a license plate sticker; however, some others require both stickers to be posted on your vehicle to legally drive it.

• You can get your vehicle registered in the nearest Department of Motor Vehicle facility "DMV", Secretary of State, or County Tax Office. The facility name is different form state to another. You should always have your registration card with you when driving. 

4- Auto Insurance Card

• The majority of the states require you to get your vehicle insured before you can drive it on public road. Only two states, New Hampshire and Virginia, that don't require car insurance, and let you drive at your own risk, but it's highly recommended to always have your auto insurance.

• Different states have different Insurance policy minimum coverages. You should always have your insurance with you when driving.

5- Housing Lease/Rent Agreement

• Most states require home owners or apartment complexes to issue a Lease/Rent Agreement for their attendants. 

• It is always recommended to have a Lease/Rent Agreement, in case there is any issues that may arise, you will always be protected. 

• You may always rent a room/apartment/house without an agreement or contract at your own risk.

6- Rent/Property Insurance

• Some states/cities/properties require you to have insurance the day your lease starts. Some others are flexible about it and consider it optional.

7- Electric/Gas/Water Account

• Some properties require you to signup for water, gas, electricity accounts under your name; some properties ask only for electricity or gas accounts; Whereas, some other properties don't ask for anything since rent already include all utilities.



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