Birth certificate not available for green card

No birth certificate for green card?

Sometimes clients do not have certain civil documents such as birth or marriage certificates, to prove that they are eligible for visas or green cards. These types of case need more care and skill. Here is a brief discussion of the issue using a birth certificate as an example.

A visa applicant is responsible for bringing the original or certified copies of required civil documents to a visa interview to prove his or her eligibility for a visa. The USCIS may need a petitioner or beneficiary to send photocopies of the original or certified copies with a petition or application. Sometimes however birth or marriage certificates or other required documents (e.g. court documents, police records) are non-existent or cannot be obtained from a government agency in certain countries.

Reasons for non-availability

Sometimes a marriage or a birth is never registered. Registration of births was voluntary in India before 1970. War and civil unrest may destroy government archives (e.g. Liberia). In countries such as Cambodia, some birth and marriage records for certain periods are simply unavailable.

Proving birth and marriage by certificate of non-availability and affidavits

The US Consulate or USCIS will presume that an applicant who fails to produce or send required documents is ineligible for a visa or other benefit (e.g. a green card). The good news however is that the applicant can still prove eligibility using secondary evidence.

Certificate of non-availability

If a birth or marriage certificate is unavailable, an applicant must offer proof by obtaining a certificate of unavailability from the government agency where such documents originate unless the State Department recognizes that documents of that type are generally unavailable. The State Department Country Reciprocity Schedule indicates what type of required country documents are unavailable for particular countries. 


Non availability of birth certificate
Baptismal Record – Unavailable Birth Certificate
Secondary evidence of birth when birth certificate unavailable for green card

In addition to obtaining a certificate of non-availability (also called certificate of unavailability) the applicant must also bring or send secondary evidence of the event such as;

  • a passport ,
  • church records,
  • baptismal records,
  • adoption decrees,
  • hospital records,
  • school records, and
  • affidavits.

The applicant should offer two separate affidavits to prove a birth or marriage.  The affiant should be a person who was alive at the time of the birth or marriage and has personal knowledge of the event. The affiant may also be someone who can testify to family history.

The contents of affidavit of birth

The affidavit of birth or marriage should state

  1.  The full name of the affiant
  2. The date and place of birth of the affiant
  3. The affiant’s relationship to the applicant
  4. Full information about the event – when and where it took place
  5. How the affiant is familiar with the event (e.g. birth or marriage).

Additionally the affiant must sign the affidavit before a notary. For foreign language documents submitted to USCIS a certified translation into English must also be submitted.


In some family based cases involving non availability of birth certificates, the USCIS or the State Department may require a blood test to prove the claimed relationship. If you have any questions please speak to a qualified immigration attorney. If you need help with an immigration application call us at (702) 423-2721 to schedule a lawyer immigration consultation to discuss your individual needs.