Filling Out Form I-130: A Step-by-Step Guide for Sponsoring Relatives

green card after marriage sponsoring relatives

Form I-130 for sponsoring relatives, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, is an essential document for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) who want to establish a relationship with eligible relatives seeking to immigrate to the United States. This form signals the first step in the family-based immigration process and must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). By completing Form I-130 correctly, you can lay the foundation for your loved ones to join you in the United States.

Key Takeaways:

  • Form I-130, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, is the initial step in sponsoring eligible relatives for immigration.
  • Eligible relatives include spouses, children, parents, siblings, and other qualified family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.
  • The petition must be supported by the appropriate filing fee and necessary documentation to prove the validity of the family relationship.
  • USCIS processing times for Form I-130 can vary depending on the family relationship and the petitioner’s location.
  • It is crucial to stay informed about the filing options, requirements, and updates regarding Form I-130 to ensure a smooth immigration process.

Who May File Form I-130?

Form I-130, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, allows U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) to sponsor their eligible relatives for immigration to the United States. The eligibility to file Form I-130 varies depending on the petitioner’s status as a U.S. citizen or LPR and the relationship with the beneficiary.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can file Form I-130 for the following eligible relatives:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old
  • Unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years old
  • Married sons or daughters
  • Brothers or sisters
  • Parents

If you are a lawful permanent resident, you can file Form I-130 for the following eligible relatives:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21 years old
  • Unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years old

It is important to note that each eligible relative requires a separate Form I-130 filing. Additionally, there may be specific requirements and conditions for each eligible relative, such as age restrictions and marital status.

By filing Form I-130, you can initiate the family-based immigration process and pave the way for your eligible relatives to obtain lawful status in the United States. The next section will discuss what cannot be filed with Form I-130, highlighting certain limitations and exclusions.

What May Not Be Filed with Form I-130?

When filing Form I-130, there are certain situations in which it cannot be used to sponsor an individual for immigration to the United States. Understanding these limitations is crucial to ensure a smooth and successful application process.

Adoptive Parents and Adopted Children

Form I-130 cannot be filed for an adoptive parent or adopted child if the adoption took place after the child turned 16 years old or if the child has not been in the legal custody of the parents for at least 2 years before filing the petition.

Natural Parents

If the petitioner gained Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) status or U.S. citizenship through adoption or as a special immigrant juvenile, they cannot file Form I-130 for a natural parent.

Stepparents and Stepchildren

In the case of a stepparent or stepchild, the marriage that created the relationship must have taken place before the child turned 18 years old. If the petitioner and their spouse were not both physically present at the marriage ceremony, they cannot file Form I-130 unless the marriage was consummated.

Prior LPR and Current Spouse

If the petitioner gained LPR status through a prior marriage to a U.S. citizen or LPR, they cannot file Form I-130 for their current spouse unless certain conditions are met.

Spouse during Exclusion Proceeding

Form I-130 cannot be filed if the spouse was married while their immigration status was in question or while a decision about their status was pending.

These limitations are in place to ensure the integrity of the immigration system and to prioritize eligibility requirements for family-based immigration. It is important to consult the official USCIS guidelines and seek legal advice if there are any doubts or questions about eligibility.

For further information, refer to the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney.

Requirements and General Instructions for Form I-130

When filing Form I-130, there are several requirements and general instructions that petitioners must follow to ensure a smooth application process. Here are the key guidelines to keep in mind:

1. Signature

It is crucial to properly sign the Form I-130 to validate the petition. Stamped or typewritten names are not accepted as signatures. The petitioner should sign their name in pen on the designated line. In cases where the petitioner is filing on behalf of a mentally incompetent person, they can sign as the legal guardian.

2. Filing Fee

A filing fee of $535 is required for Form I-130. This fee must be paid with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card. It is important to include the payment with the application to avoid any delays or issues.

3. Biometric Services Fee

In some cases, petitioners may also be required to pay a biometric services fee. This fee covers the cost of collecting fingerprints, photographs, and signature for identity verification purposes. The specific fee amount and payment method will be provided by the USCIS if applicable.

4. Evidence and Supporting Documentation

When submitting Form I-130, it is crucial to include all required evidence and supporting documentation to establish the validity of the family relationship. This may include marriage certificates, birth certificates, or other relevant documents. It is important to provide clear and accurate copies of these documents, as well as translations if necessary.

5. Biometric Services Appointment

In some cases, petitioners and beneficiaries may be required to attend a biometric services appointment. During this appointment, fingerprinting and photographs will be taken to verify identity. The USCIS will notify the petitioner if a biometric services appointment is required, and they must make sure to attend the appointment as scheduled.

Submitting a complete and accurate Form I-130 with the necessary documentation and fees is crucial for a successful application. By following these requirements and general instructions, petitioners can increase their chances of a smooth processing and approval of their petition.

Processing Times and Cost for Form I-130

The processing times for Form I-130 can vary depending on the family relationship and the location of the petitioner. It is important to have an understanding of these timelines when planning for the immigration process. According to recent USCIS data, the average processing time for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen is 13.5-20.5 months for those living in the U.S. and 13.5-15 months for those living abroad. For immediate relatives of a green card holder, the processing time ranges from 13.5-20.5 months for those living in the U.S. and 33-37 months for those living abroad.

It is crucial to note that these processing times are averages and may vary depending on individual cases. Factors such as the complexity of the case, the workload of the USCIS office handling the petition, and any additional documentation or evidence requested can impact the processing time.

Immigration policy, Adapting to change, Immigrant advice, U.S. immigration laws, Community support, Immigrant resilience, Legal changes for immigrants, immigration reform sponsoring relatives

The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535. This fee is non-refundable, even if the petition is denied. It is important to ensure that the payment is made using the accepted methods, such as a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card. Failure to pay the correct filing fee may result in a delay or rejection of the petition.

Understanding the processing times and cost associated with Form I-130 allows petitioners to plan and prepare accordingly. It is advisable to start the process as early as possible to account for potential delays and to gather all necessary documentation to support the petition. By being well-informed and organized, petitioners can navigate the Form I-130 process more smoothly and increase their chances of a successful immigration journey.

Required Documents for Form I-130

When filing Form I-130, the petitioner must provide supporting documents to establish their U.S. citizenship or LPR status and the valid family relationship with the beneficiary. The required documents may include:

  1. Birth certificate: A copy of the petitioner’s birth certificate to prove their U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status.
  2. Naturalization or citizenship certificate: If the petitioner became a U.S. citizen through naturalization, a copy of their naturalization certificate must be provided.
  3. Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad): If the petitioner was born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, a copy of their Form FS-240 is required to establish U.S. citizenship.
  4. Unexpired U.S. passport or Permanent Resident Card: Copies of these documents can serve as evidence of U.S. citizenship or LPR status.

In addition, specific documents are needed to prove the family relationship:

  • Marriage certificate: If the petitioner is filing for their spouse, a copy of the marriage certificate must be provided.
  • Birth certificate: If the petitioner is filing for their child, a copy of the child’s birth certificate is required.

For marriage-based petitions, additional documentation may be necessary to prove the authenticity of the relationship. This can include:

  • Joint ownership of property
  • Joint tenancy of a residence
  • Combined financial resources
  • Birth certificates of children born to the couple
  • Affidavits from third parties

Providing the required supporting documents is crucial to establishing the validity of the family relationship and ensuring a successful Form I-130 filing.

Required Documents U.S. Citizenship/LPR Status Family Relationship
Birth certificate
Naturalization or citizenship certificate
Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad)
Unexpired U.S. passport or Permanent Resident Card
Marriage certificate
Birth certificate (child)

required documents for Form I-130

Filing Options for Form I-130 for Sponsoring Relatives

When it comes to filing Form I-130, there are several options available to petitioners. Whether you prefer the convenience of online filing or the traditional method of mail filing, there is a filing option that suits your needs.

Online Filing

If you have created an online account with the USCIS, you can easily file Form I-130 online. This option provides many advantages, including access to real-time case updates and the ability to submit supporting documents electronically. With online filing, you can conveniently track the progress of your petition and receive notifications directly to your account.

Mail Filing

If you prefer to file Form I-130 by mail, the filing location will depend on your residence and whether you are concurrently filing Form I-130 and Form I-485. The USCIS provides specific instructions on the appropriate filing location, so it is important to double-check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information. Ensure that you carefully follow the instructions regarding the filing fee payment and submission of supporting documents.

Filing Options for Petitioners Residing Outside the U.S.

If you are a petitioner residing outside the United States, you have additional filing options for Form I-130. You can choose to mail the form to the USCIS Elgin Lockbox as per the instructions on the USCIS website. Another option is to file online if eligible. However, in limited circumstances, you may also have the opportunity to submit the form at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. It is important to note that this option is only available in specific situations, and it is advisable to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate beforehand to confirm the procedures and requirements.

Regardless of the filing option you choose, it is crucial to carefully review the instructions provided by the USCIS and ensure that you provide accurate and complete information. Filing Form I-130 correctly and in a timely manner is essential to initiating the family-based immigration process.

Conclusion

Filing Form I-130 is a crucial step in the family-based immigration process for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who wish to sponsor eligible relatives for immigration to the United States. This form, filed with USCIS, establishes the existence of a valid family relationship and allows the relative to begin the process of obtaining a green card. By following the step-by-step guide and providing the required supporting documents, petitioners can navigate the Form I-130 process successfully.

It is important for petitioners to stay updated on processing times and requirements to ensure a smooth and efficient immigration journey for both the petitioner and the beneficiary. Understanding the eligibility criteria and filing options can help streamline the process and reduce delays.

If you’re considering family-based immigration and want to sponsor a relative, familiarize yourself with the requirements and gather the necessary documents. By diligently completing and submitting Form I-130, you can take the first step towards reuniting with your loved ones in the United States.

FAQ

What is Form I-130 for Sponsoring Relatives?

Form I-130, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, is used by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) to establish a relationship with eligible relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States.

Who is eligible to file Form I-130?

A U.S. citizen can file Form I-130 for their spouse, unmarried children under 21 years old, unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years old, married sons or daughters, brothers or sisters, and parents. A lawful permanent resident can file Form I-130 for their spouse, unmarried children under 21 years old, and unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years old.

What may not be filed with Form I-130?

Form I-130 cannot be filed for an adoptive parent or adopted child if the adoption took place after the child turned 16 years old or if the child has not been in the legal custody of the parents for at least 2 years before filing the petition. It also cannot be filed for a natural parent if the petitioner gained LPR status or U.S. citizenship through adoption or as a special immigrant juvenile. In the case of a stepparent or stepchild, the marriage that created the relationship must have taken place before the child turned 18 years old. If the petitioner and their spouse were not both physically present at the marriage ceremony, they cannot file Form I-130 unless the marriage was consummated. Additionally, if the petitioner gained LPR status through a prior marriage to a U.S. citizen or LPR, they cannot file Form I-130 for their current spouse unless certain conditions are met. Finally, Form I-130 cannot be filed if the spouse was married while their immigration status was in question or while a decision about their status was pending.

What are the requirements for filing Form I-130?

Form I-130 must be properly signed by the petitioner and filed with the appropriate filing fee. Stamped or typewritten names are not accepted as signatures. The filing fee for Form I-130 is 5 and must be paid with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check, or credit card. The petitioner may also be required to pay a biometric services fee if applicable. It is important to submit all required evidence and supporting documentation at the time of filing to avoid a Request for Evidence (RFE) or denial of the petition.

How long does the Form I-130 process take and how much does it cost?

The processing times for Form I-130 vary depending on the family relationship and the location of the petitioner. According to recent USCIS data, the average processing time for immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen is 13.5-20.5 months for those living in the U.S. and 13.5-15 months for those living abroad. For immediate relatives of a green card holder, the processing time ranges from 13.5-20.5 months for those living in the U.S. and 33-37 months for those living abroad. The filing fee for Form I-130 is 5, and it is non-refundable even if the petition is denied.

What documents are required for filing Form I-130?

When filing Form I-130, the petitioner must provide supporting documents to establish their U.S. citizenship or LPR status and the valid family relationship with the beneficiary. The required documents may include a birth certificate, naturalization or citizenship certificate, Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad), unexpired U.S. passport, or Permanent Resident Card. For a spouse, a marriage certificate is required, and for a child, the birth certificate of the child is needed. In cases where the marriage is being petitioned, additional documentation showing joint ownership of property, joint tenancy of a residence, combined financial resources, birth certificates of children born to the couple, and affidavits from third parties may be required.

What are the filing options for Form I-130?

Form I-130 can be filed online through the USCIS website if the petitioner has created an online account. Online filing allows for easier access to case updates and document submission. If filing by mail, the filing location depends on the petitioner’s residence and whether concurrent filing of Form I-130 and Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) is being done. For petitioners residing outside the U.S., filing options include mailing the form to the USCIS Elgin Lockbox, filing online, or submitting the form at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in limited circumstances.

Source Links

Comments

No comments yet. Why don’t you start the discussion?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *