Understanding Form I-130

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a form called I-130 for immigrants who want to invite their spouse or family member to live and work in the U.S. Those family members, once they obtain a visa to come to the U.S. can then potentially earn permanent citizenship rights.

The I-130 document can be completed by either a citizen of the U.S. or a legally recognized permanent U.S. resident. Completing this form signifies the applicant has a familial bond with an individual living abroad. Filing this form with USCIS formally begins the process of allowing the petitioner’s family member to obtain a visa to travel to the United States and possibly begin their path to citizenship. Separate forms must be completed for each relative, and USCIS processes each document as visa numbers become available. Family members and spouses must wait until a visa number is available before they are permitted to petition for an immigrant visa or to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

The applicant is required to complete the two-page form, pay a fee of $420 and file the document with USCIS. If the spouse or family member of the applicant is able to find and hold employment in the U.S. and the I-130 form is correctly filed, the family member may eventually be allowed to obtain a Permanent Residency Card, a document officially referred to as I-551 or green card.

Although some forms provided by USCIS are available online, the I-130 form must be submitted in paper form. However, once the agency receives the application, the petitioner can opt to receive an email or text confirmation.