Are you in the United States because you went through the steps to obtain your green card? Or, are you a spouse of a green card holder that is interested in coming to the United States? No matter the reason, filing out Form I-130A is important.
However, this form is only available to complete if you have filled out Form I-130. Form I-130 is the initial petition form for your spouse’s marriage-based green card. And, without this initial form, you won’t be able to have a successful application.
What Is Form I-130A?
If you are in a valid relationship with someone who is a green card holder, by default, you can also get a green card by marriage. But first, you must have your spouse petition on your behalf. Form I-130A, which also goes by the name of the petition for an alien relative, is required by USCIS for all relatives or spouses or green card holders.
This form is a document that is required for completion if you are wanting your spouse to come to the United States. Ultimately, as a green card holder, you will need to complete this form on your partner’s behalf.
The Difference Between the I-130 and I-130A
Even though this form is ultimately named the same thing, there are a few notable differences between the two. All in all, these forms both help the act of applying for a marriage-based green card but require different information.
Form I-130 is the petition for an alien relative, whereas Form I-130A is only the form for supplemental information. Furthermore, Form I-130 is the basic form that will state you have a relationship with the person applying for a marriage-based green card, and Form I-130A will solidify this. The person who is petitioning on your behalf must fill out both forms.
These forms are different because they require different information and different supporting documents. First, Form I-130 is baseline information about the person you are applying for, and the A variation is proving that the relationship between you is legitimate.
I-130A Eligibility Criteria
Form I-130A was created for those that are partners of green card holders. So, as long as you are in a valid relationship with a green card holder, you are eligible to fill out this form, and get a green card by marriage.
As the spouse of a green card holder, you must fill out Form I-130A. If you live abroad, you can complete this form and submit it to a U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are living in the U.S. while your partner is abroad, then you can submit this form on their behalf.
So, to recap, U.S. citizens are able to file this form for their spouses, children that are dependent under the age of 21, and sometimes their parents and siblings. However, ultimately, this form is for those partners of green card holders who are striving to obtain a marriage-based green card.
Who Cannot File Form I-130A?
There are a few drawbacks for some individuals who wish to file this form. If you are in any of the following categories, you are unable to file this form.
- A grandparent, nephew, niece, aunt, or uncle
- An adoptive parent or an adoptive child
- A stepparent or stepchild
- A spouse that has been involved in an immigrant court proceeding
- Any relatives that are marrying the green card holder for legal purposes
- A spouse that has previously tried to obtain a marriage green card via a previous marriage that ended
If you are any of these individuals in the categories listed above, you are not able to apply for a marriage green card. It’s important to know that only spouses with a legitimate and legal marriage to a green card holder are eligible to complete and submit this form.
What Are the Documents Required While Using Form I-130A?
When filling out this form, it’s crucial that you include all the necessary information and supporting documents. Some of the documents that should be included with the completed form are:
- Evidence of the one petitioning U.S. residency: Of course, because you are applying for a green card due to a partner’s status, you will need to prove that they are a legal resident. By submitting their green card, or naturalization certificate, you are proving their status.
- Identification of the partner applying: You will need to include a form of identification, such as your passport or a birth certificate when submitting your I-130A application packet.
- Marriage evidence: To prove your marriage and your relationship, submitting a certificate of marriage or a marriage license is key. This way, you are able to show you have a valid partnership. Additionally, you can send in wedding photos, invitations, or proof of partnership.
- Passport-style photographs: Along with all the information listed above, you will need to include two passport-style photographs.
How to Fill Out & Complete Form I-130A?
When it comes to filling out this form, you must complete the general categories this form contains. These categories include the information we, list below:
- Personal information: You will need to add any personal information and information of your spouse. Additionally, USCIS may ask for any additional information related to your relationship, or travel.
- Employment-related documentation: Because you don’t need to be required to work during the time you are applying, completing a background check is key. If possible, try to complete this bit of application with either a job or an education course.
- Foreign employment information: If you or your spouse has worked in other countries, then you can add the appropriate information here. If this section is not applicable to your case, then you can skip it.
- Beneficiary information: This section ultimately will go over what you have previously added and ensure that you understand the purpose of this form and this documentation. Sometimes, marriage green card applicants aren’t able to speak English fluently, so this section really just ensures that the understanding is there.
- Declaration of completing this form and the signature of a witness: It’s important that you seek the assistance or guidance of a third party for this specific step. This person, either a paralegal or an official document preparer, must complete this section of the form and sign to state that they approve of this action to be carried out.
It’s important to note that at the bottom of this form, there is additional information that can be utilized if you run out of space-filling out previous sections.
Within this application, you will need to provide a complete address and employment history from the past five years in whatever country you have resided in. Now, it is important to note that you don’t need to refrain from working during the completion of this form, but everything you do in terms of a way to make money must be included.
Sometimes, this is a challenging aspect of this form, especially for those that don’t keep detailed records of work or residence history. However, tracking down employers and various residences will be needed for this form. If you are unable to fill out this detailed information, then your form can be considered complete.
Form I-130A Checklist
Even with the listed required documents and the various categories of Form I-130A, there are more things that need to be submitted. We have compiled a checklist to help you in situations like this. And ultimately, this checklist is specifically designed to prove that you are in a valid and legal marriage with the green card holder.
Below, we will go over this checklist of important documents that should be included in your application packet, apart from the supporting documents required:
- Documentation showing joint ownership of property
- Leases that show joint ownership of a common residence
- Documentation that shows financial resources are combined
- If children are present, then birth certificates should be provided
- Relevant documentation to show the legitimacy of the marriage
- Affidavits of those who support the marriage and can confirm its a legal partnership
Form I-130A Filing Cost
This tangible form has no cost involved. However, there is a basic required filing fee that all foreign aliens must fill. The USCIS will set out what the cost is, and from there, you will be required to pay the given fee.
However, this form is simply one step in the overall marriage-based green card process. If you are going through this process from abroad, the cost will be around $1,400. On the other hand, if you applying from within the U.S., you should expect to pay close to $2,000.
Luckily, there are options to take out a loan to cover the expenses required for a marriage-based green card.
Form I-130A Processing Time
As we have said before, because this form is only one small step in the marriage-based green card process, the timeline doesn’t really matter. Overall, the timeline for these types of green cards can be anywhere from 10 months to 38 months. The timeline solely depends on your case and the specifics.
If you are living in the U.S. and have filed this application, then your marriage-based green card timeline can be anywhere from 12 months to 22 months. And, for immediate relatives who have filled out this form to legally come to the U.S. and obtain a green card, the timeline is the same.
How and Where Should I Submit My I-130A Form?
If you are living in the United States, then this packet, along with the form, should be submitted by mail to the closest USCIS office to you. Online, USCIS offers a comprehensive guide of addresses that your packet can be sent to that is suitable for you.
If you live outside of the United States, you will generally need to submit the form to a USCIS office in the country. For example, many applicants that live abroad but are completing this form will send it to a major city’s office, such as Dallas, Chicago, or Arizona. In total, there are five service centers that can receive your application, you just need to determine which one you are assigned to.
However, if you have completed Form I-130A online, then you are able to submit it electronically. This can only be done once you have created an online account from USCIS. But, generally, most application packets are submitted by mail to the designated location.
What Happens if You Do Not File Form I-130A?
If you do not file this form at the same time as you file Form I-130, then USCIS won’t be able to establish a legitimate relationship. Because the first form is such a generic application form, there isn’t much that can be done from simply receiving this.
This is why it’s imperative that Form I-130A is submitted simultaneously. If this form isn’t submitted to back up the relationship you say you have from the first form, then your petition will be denied on the spot.
Begin Your I-130A Visa as Soon as Possible!
The bottom line is that this form is not as lengthy and difficult as other visa forms and applications tend to be. Because of this, it’s easy to fill out these six pages correctly and quickly. After collecting all the necessary documents and information about your marriage to a U.S. citizen, it’s straightforward to complete and move forward.
However, we also understand that sometimes these applications can get confusing, and you may need a third party to solidify your petition. Contact us today if you need assistance with any immigration applications you have. We have innovative immigration software to help you quickly and efficiently apply for a visa of your choosing.