Form I-130

Navigating the Immigration Maze: What Comes After Form I-130 Approval?

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Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is a form issued by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is used by U.S. citizens and U.S. lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to establish the qualifying relationship with a foreign national relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States. The purpose of Form I-130 is to petition for the issuance of an immigrant visa, which allows the foreign national to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) in the United States.

The form is typically used by U.S. citizens and permanent residents to sponsor certain family members, such as:

  • Spouses
  • Children (unmarried and under 21 for U.S. citizens; unmarried and under 21, or married and any age for permanent residents)
  • Parents (if the petitioner is a U.S. citizen)
  • Siblings (if the petitioner is a U.S. citizen)

When a U.S. citizen or permanent resident files Form I-130 on behalf of their eligible relative, it is the first step in the family-based immigration process. Once the I-130 petition is approved, the foreign national relative can move on to the next steps in the process, which may include applying for an immigrant visa through consular processing or adjusting their status to permanent resident if they are already in the United States.

Form I-130 is approved. What to do next?

After Form I-130 is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the next steps in the immigration process depend on the specific circumstances of the foreign national relative and where they are located. Here are the typical next steps:

  • For Beneficiaries Inside the United States (Adjustment of Status):
    If the foreign national is already inside the United States and eligible to adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident (green card holder), the next steps may include:
    a. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status: This form is used to apply for a green card from within the United States.
    b. Attend Biometrics Appointment: USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for the beneficiary, which involves fingerprinting and photographing for background checks.
    c. Attend an Interview: USCIS may schedule an interview to verify the eligibility and bona fides of the marriage or qualifying relationship (if applicable).
    d. Wait for Decision: USCIS will make a decision on the Form I-485. If approved, the foreign national will receive their green card.
  • For Beneficiaries Outside the United States (Consular Processing):
    If the foreign national relative is outside the United States, the next steps typically include:
    a. Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application: Complete the online DS-260 form through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). This form is used to apply for an immigrant visa.
    b. Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): The U.S. petitioner (the person who filed the I-130) may need to submit an Affidavit of Support, along with financial documents, to demonstrate their ability to financially support the foreign national.
    c. Wait for National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: The case will be transferred to the NVC, which will process the application and request additional documentation.
    d. Attend an Immigrant Visa Interview: The foreign national relative will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
    e. Receive Immigrant Visa: If the visa is approved, the foreign national can enter the United States with the immigrant visa.

How long does it take to get Form I-130 approved?

The processing time for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, can vary significantly depending on various factors, including the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, the USCIS service center where the petition is filed, the caseload at the time, and the current USCIS processing times. Processing times were subject to change and could be affected by a variety of factors.

In general, USCIS typically provides an estimated processing time for Form I-130 on their website, which can give you an idea of the expected wait time. These processing times can vary from a few months to over a year or more. For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21, the processing times tend to be shorter compared to other family-based categories.

To check the most up-to-date processing times for Form I-130, you should visit the USCIS website and specifically look for the processing times for the USCIS service center where your petition was filed. USCIS periodically updates these processing times to reflect current caseloads and processing speeds.

Keep in mind that USCIS may also offer expedited processing in certain situations, such as for military families or other special circumstances. If you have concerns about the processing time or believe your case qualifies for expedited processing, you can contact USCIS or consult with an immigration attorney for guidance.

Additionally, if your case has been pending for an unusually long time, you may inquire about the status of your petition by contacting USCIS or using their online case status check tools.

How to file Form I-130?

Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, involves several steps, and it’s essential to follow the instructions carefully to ensure a smooth and successful submission. Here’s a general overview of how to file Form I-130:

  • Determine Your Eligibility: Before you begin the application process, make sure you are eligible to file Form I-130. You must be a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to file this petition. You should also identify the eligible family member you wish to sponsor.
  • Gather Required Documents and Information: Collect the necessary documentation and information, including:
    • A copy of your proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status.
    • A copy of your qualifying family member’s birth certificate.
    • Marriage certificates, divorce decrees, or death certificates if applicable.
    • Passport-sized photos of both you and your qualifying relative.
    • Proof of a genuine relationship (e.g., photographs, shared documents, etc.).
    • Payment for the filing fee.
  • Complete Form I-130: Download the most recent version of Form I-130 from the USCIS website. Complete the form by providing accurate and complete information. Pay close attention to the specific instructions for each question.
  • Submit the Form I-130: Depending on your location and the beneficiary’s location, you will file Form I-130 with the appropriate USCIS office. This typically involves mailing the completed form, supporting documents, and the required filing fee to the designated address. Check the USCIS website for the correct filing address.
  • Pay the Filing Fee: As of my last update, there was a filing fee associated with Form I-130. Make sure to include the payment in the form of a check or money order payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” You can check the current fee on the USCIS website.
  • Receive a Receipt Notice: Once USCIS receives your petition, they will send you a receipt notice to confirm they have received your application. This notice will include a unique case number that you can use to track your case.
  • Wait for USCIS Processing: USCIS will review your petition, and they may request additional documentation or schedule an interview if needed. The processing time can vary, so you can check USCIS processing times on their website.
  • Follow Up and Attend Interviews: Be prepared to respond to any USCIS requests for additional information or attend an interview if required.
  • Receive the Decision: USCIS will make a decision on your petition. If approved, they will send you an approval notice, and the case will move on to the next steps, depending on the beneficiary’s location (either adjustment of status or consular processing).