EXPLAINED: Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

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Updated May 23, 2023

What Is Form I-130 & Its Use?

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is a document used by U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and permanent residents to sponsor their family members living abroad to obtain green cards in the U.S. The form is used to establish a relationship between the petitioner (U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident) and the beneficiary (the foreign national relative) to obtain a family-based immigrant visa, which allows the family member to legally enter and reside in the U.S. as a permanent resident.

The form requires the petitioner to provide information about themselves and their relationship to the foreign-born family member, as well as information about the foreign-born family member. The petitioner has to prove that he/she can financially support his family member so that they do not become a public charge in the United States.

In this article, you will learn completely about the Form I-130 eligibility, cost, required documents, etc.,

Form I-130 Eligibility

Who can file Form I-130?

As mentioned above U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, and permanent residents can file Form I-130 for their family members. A U.S. citizen can file an I-130 petition for their spouse, unmarried child under 21 years old, unmarried son or daughter over 21 years old, married son or daughter of any age, and siblings (if the petitioner is at least 21 years old). A green card holder and U.S. nation can file an I-130 petition for their spouse and unmarried child under 21 years old.

The U.S. immigration system has two primary categories for family-based immigration: immediate relatives and family preference. Immediate relatives are spouses, parents, and children (under the age of 21) of U.S. citizens and use “IR” as prefix. Immediate relatives do not have wait times for an immigrant visa, and some inadmissibility restrictions do not apply to them.

On the other hand, all other family-based immigrants fall under the family-preference category, which is identified by the “F” prefix. Typically, there is a wait time for family-preference immigrants due to the high demand for green cards that exceed the number allotted by U.S. Congress each year.

The below table shows the prefix used for respective family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Prefix Used For Eligible RelativesRelationship of Relatives
IR1Spouse of a U.S. citizen
IR2Unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a U.S. citizen
IR5Parent of a U.S. citizen
F1Unmarried, adult son or daughter (age 21 or over) of U.S. a citizen
F3Married son or daughter (any age) of a U.S. citizen
F4Brother or sister of U.S. a citizen
F2ASpouse or unmarried child (under age 21) of a permanent resident
F2BUnmarried adult son or daughter of a permanent resident

Are you eligible to sponsor Form I-130 for your family members? Then check our I-130 petition steps guide to know the procedure to be followed for smooth and successful filing.

Who cannot file Form I-130?

It’s important to note that even if you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder, you may be not eligible to sponsor all of your family members for green cards. There are certain relatives for whom you cannot sponsor a green card:

  • If any of your family members have committed visa fraud by marrying solely to obtain immigration benefits.
  • Adoptive parents or children who were adopted after turning 16 years old
  • If you obtained your U.S. immigration status through adoption, you cannot sponsor your biological parents for a green card.
  • Permanent residents cannot sponsor a married children
  • Grandparents or grandchildren, nephews and nieces, aunts and uncles, cousins, parents-in-law
  • Stepchildren who became part of your family after turning 18 years old and stepparents who became part of your family after you turned 18
  • If you and your spouse did not attend your marriage ceremony in person
  • If you received your green card through a prior marriage and have not been a green card holder for at least five years or have not become a U.S. citizen by naturalization, you cannot file an I-130 petition for your current spouse.
  • If you married your spouse while they were in immigration court proceedings

Along with submitting Form I-130, you will be required to provide supporting documents to demonstrate that the family member you are petitioning for does not fall under any of the categories that make them ineligible, as discussed in this section.

Not sure if you qualify to file Form I-130? Get our lawyer consultation and file successfully.

Form I-130 Required Supporting Documents

In order to successfully file your Form I-130, your supporting documents will need to achieve two objectives. Firstly, they must establish your valid U.S. permanent resident or citizen status. Secondly, they must provide evidence of a legitimate family relationship between you and the person for whom you are petitioning a green card. If any of your supporting documents are in a foreign language, you will need to include a full English translation. Typically, you will be required to submit the following documents along with Form I-130:

  • Proof to be submitted if you are a U.S. citizen
  • Proof to be submitted if you are a Permanent Residents
    • Front and back of the I-551, Permanent Resident Card (green card) copy
    • Copy of the foreign passport containing the biographic page, the I-551 stamp obtained from the U.S. Consulate, as well as the page indicating admission to the U.S. as a permanent resident.
  • Proof of your legally valid relationship with the beneficiary, one of the following whichever is applicable:
    • Spouse – copy of your marriage certificate, and evidence that prior marriage 
    • (yours and your spouse’s), if any, has been terminated
    • Child – a copy of the birth certificate
    • Parent – a copy of your birth certificate
    • Sibling – copies of both your birth certificates
  • Proof of any name change for yourself and the beneficiary, if applicable.
  • Proof of the nationality of the beneficiary.
  • Proof of a bona fide marriage
    • A mortgage in both your names
    • Joint bank account statements
    • Birth certificates of children with both your names on it as the parents
    • Documents showing joint ownership of property
    • Documents showing you live at the same address, such as a lease agreement
    • Sworn affidavits by friends or third parties who know about your relationship
  • If you are a U.S. citizen sponsoring an adopted child you need to submit
    • Proof of your U.S. citizenship
    • Proof of your relationship with the adopted child – like the final adoption decree
    • Proof that you had legal custody of the adopted child for two years
    • Proof that you had a joint residence with the adopted child for two years

Alternative Documents To Be Submitted

If the primary required document which is mentioned above is not available, you may submit alternative documents, known as “secondary evidence”, to enable USCIS to evaluate your I-130 petition. For example, if you don’t have a birth certificate, you can first secure a statement from the issuing government agency in your home country affirming that the birth certificate is not available. Alternatively, you will need to get other records (such as a baptismal certificate or school records) that verify the details of your birth, or written statements from relatives who can attest to those facts.

Form I-130 Fees

How much does the I-130 cost?

The current government filing fee for Form I-130 is $535, and it can be paid by check or money order made payable to “U.S. Department of Homeland Security,” or by credit card through Form G-1450.

It is important to note that the filing fees for a green cards may increase significantly as early as summer 2023. Before fee increase high start applying Form I-130 for your family member.

Where Do I Submit Form I-130?

To file Form I-130, you have two options: online or by mail. If you choose to submit your form online, you’ll need to create a MyUSCIS account on the USCIS website. Be sure to store your login credentials in a secure location for easy access. USCIS will send you all updates regarding your application through your MyUSCIS account.

If you choose to submit your Form I-130 by mail, you must send it to the appropriate USCIS office based on your location and the courier service you are using. If you are applying from within the U.S. and filing Form I-130 separately (not concurrently), you must send your forms to either the USCIS Dallas lockbox or Phoenix lockbox, depending on your state of residence. You can find specific filing information on the USCIS direct filing address chart.

If you are submitting Form I-130 together with Form I-485 for adjustment of status from within the U.S., you must mail your application to the USCIS Chicago lockbox. With USCIS’ approval, you may also be able to file your forms at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.

How Long Does It Take for Form I-130 To Be Approved?

Once you have successfully submitted your I-130 petition, the time it takes for USCIS to approve depends on your visa category. It could take anywhere from 5 months to as long as 20 years in some cases.

After you submit your petition, USCIS will send you a receipt notice by mail, confirming that they have received your petition and will start processing it. You can use the receipt number on the notice to track the status of your I-130 petition on the USCIS website.

Sometimes, Form I-130 processing time get delays due to backlogs at the USCIS service center handling your case. Additionally, USCIS may also delay processing your I-130 if you didn’t follow the instructions on the Form I-130. For example, if you didn’t write your full name on the form or sent your petition to the wrong address, USCIS will reject it. This will require you to refile, adding more processing time for your case.

Related Article: Check the Complete Form I-130 Processing Time For All Relations With Service Centers.

How Can ImmigrationDirect Help You File an I-130 Petition?

Form I-130 plays a significant role for U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are seeking to bring their family members to join them. By understanding the purpose, requirements, and importance of Form I-130, applicants can navigate the complex immigration system more effectively and increase their chances of successful family reunification. ImmigrationDirect provide online “do-it-yourself” software and access to services to help you complete the immigration application process on your own with lawyer consultation. Contact us and begin the process to file the Form I-130.

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