Form I-730: How to Help Your Relative Join You in the U.S. as an Asylee or Refugee

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Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition is a form filed by a person with refugee or asylee status asking for their husband or wife or unmarried children under 21 to be granted refugee or asylee status also and be allowed to enter the U.S. A refugee is a person who has been given protection by the U.S. because of the person’s fear of being punished for their race, religion, nationality, or membership in a particular social group or political opinion. Refugees are usually outside of their country and cannot return to their country because they are afraid of being harmed. A person can only seek refugee status from outside the U.S.

An asylee is a little different from a refugee. A person that wants asylum status needs to meet the requirement of being afraid of being harmed because they have one of the characteristics listed above. Unlike refugee status, asylum status is available to a person already in the U.S. and wants admission at a port of entry of the U.S. A port of entry is simply a route a person can use to enter the U.S., whether it is located at a border of a neighboring country, an airport, or an area on the coast of the U.S.

Eligibility Requirements

There are certain requirements that the person filing the Form I-730 must meet. First, the relationship to the relative the person is petitioning for must have existed when the person was granted their refugee or asylum status. In other words, a refugee petitioning for his wife must have been married at the time the he was granted refugee status. This rule also applies to petitioning for children, meaning the child must have been born or conceived by the date the parent is granted refugee or asylee status.

When a person is filing Form I-730 for a child, that child must be under 21 when the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives the form. A child that is over 21 can still be eligible for Form I-730 if the child was under 21 when their parent first applied for refugee or asylee status.

Another eligibility requirement for Form I-730 is that the child must be unmarried at the time USCIS approves the parent’s petition for refugee or asylee status. The child is no longer eligible if they get married while USCIS is in the process of making a decision on the parent’s petition.

In addition to these requirements, there are also requirements for adopted children and stepchildren. Adopted children need to adopted before age 16 to be eligible for a parent to file Form I-730 on their behalf. Stepchildren need to be younger than 18 at the time the parents’ marry to be eligible.

Lastly, the relative being petitioned for cannot have persecuted anyone. This means that the relative should not have caused a person to be afraid that something would happen to them based on their race, religion, nationality or membership in a particular social group or political opinion.

Filing Form I-730

Form I-730 is a form with 8 parts:

  • Information about the petitioner: the person filing the form should list their basic information
  • Their status as a refugee, asylee or green card holder, address, phone number and date of birth, date of marriage
  • Information about the relative: similar information needed from the petitioner is also needed for their relative asking for refugee or asylee status as well as:
  • Languages spoken, immigration and travel information
  • Filing deadline: indicates if the application is being filing more than 2 years after the petitioner received their refugee or asylee status
  • Asks for explanation of why the form is being filed after more than 2 years, if applicable
  • Warning: states that if the relative is in the U.S. and has the possibility of being removed, the process of removing them can happen if the petition is denied
  • Signatures: the petitioner, the relative, and anyone else involved in filling out the form are required to sign
  • Interview: this section is not completed when first filling out the form
  • If the relative asking for refugee or asylee status is over 14 and is interviewed, this section is completed at that interview

The completed form should be sent to USCIS and does not require a fee.

What Happens After Filing

After Form I-730 is filed USCIS might ask the relative to appear at an interview. A date and location for this interview will be mailed to relative to inform them that USCIS wants to interview them. At the interview, an immigration officer interviews the relative under oath. Taking an oath helps with preventing the person from making statements that are not true. When the officer is done asking questions about the form they will use the answers to make a decision about the petition. A decision can be sent to the relative as soon as the day of the interview or at a later date.

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