I-130: Family Based Immigration

Form I-130: Petition For Alien Relative or Family-Based Immigration

Let’s face it, “chain immigration” is a political football in the United States these days.  The term itself chain immigration is considered a pejorative phrase in many circles.

However, getting a U.S. Green Card is the ultimate goal of many family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents.  And chain immigration, or more appropriately called family-based immigration is still a viable and popular technique to bring families together in the United States.

The process is taking longer and longer these days, depending on who is in the White House, and/or which political party controls the U.S. Congress.  Unfortunately, in many ways, it is out of the hands of the sponsoring family member and beneficiaries.  

The Victoria Law Group has helped many families and family members prepare their Form I-130 so that it is approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Our record puts us in the best position to guide you through the process of filing Form I-130 for your relatives.

If you are considering filing a Form I-130, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Top Questions For Form I-130 Petition:

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Top 10 Questions For Form 1-130:

Form I-130 is one of the various immigration forms available at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is officially referred to as the “Petition for Alien Relative.” It is an immigrant petition that allows U.S citizens and lawful permanent residents to sponsor certain relatives in order to come to the United States. It establishes a good family relationship between a U.S citizen or a legal permanent resident and someone immigrating to the United States. 

The Petition for alien relative is filed by a petitioner, such as a United States citizen or a green card holder, a lawful permanent resident in the United States. The petitioner submits the Petition to the USCIS on behalf of the beneficiary. 

Upon the approval of Form I-130, the beneficiary living outside of the United States can obtain an immigration visa at the U.S consulate or embassy abroad. With the visa, the beneficiary can immigrate to the U.S to claim his/her green card. For beneficiaries already in the U.S under legal status, they can apply for the adjustment of status to a lawful permanent resident upon the approval of Form I-130.

Yes. Suppose you are a U.S citizen or a lawful permanent resident in the U.S. In that case, you are eligible to file a petition for certain alien relatives. Once you ascertain your eligibility, you need to know those relatives you can sponsor with the Petition. The following are the categories of relatives that you can file Form I-130 on their behalf:

         Immediately Relative (IR): This category of relatives has a higher chance of getting their form I-130 approved earlier than the other categories. The immediate Relative consist of the following subcategories:

  • Immediate Relative 1 (IR-1): This consists of a U.S citizen spouse only, and their marriage must be above two years.
  • Immediate Relative 2 (IR-2): Unmarried children of a U.S citizen below 21 years fall into this subcategory. However, marriage to the biological parent must occur before the child is 18 years old.
  • Immediate Relative 5 (IR-5): This subcategory comprises the parents of a U.S citizen who is 21 years old or above.

Family Preference (F)- You should not mistake this category for the F-visa, the U.S student Visa. The family preference also has the following subcategories:

  • First Preference (F1): This comprises of Unmarried children of a U.S citizen.
  • Second Preference (F2): The F2 consists of spouses, minor children, and unmarried children (at least 21 years old) of a lawful U.S permanent resident.
  • Third Preference (F3): This subcategory comprises of married children of a U.S citizen.
  • Fourth Preference (F4): This comprises of brothers and sisters of a U.S citizen.

If you are a U.S citizen and want to file Form I-130 for your relative, you must be older than 21 years. You should also note that you can not use Form I-130 to get K-visa’s approval for your fiancée.

When you are filing the Petition for alien relative, you need to attach some supporting documents. These documents will establish that you (the sponsor) are eligible to file the Petition. It also shows that a family relationship exists between you and the beneficiary. These supporting documents show that the person seeking the green card is your relative.

Supporting documents for filing Form I-130 includes:

  • Evidence that the petitioner is a U.S citizen or a lawful permanent resident.
  • Evidence that establishes a good family relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary.
  • Evidence that the family relationship is not fraudulent.
  • Evidence of name changes by the petitioner or the beneficiary, if there is any name change.

Suppose the beneficiary is seeking a marriage-based green card. In that case, the USCIS will require him/her to supply more additional supporting documents, and these documents may include:

  • A copy of the petitioner’s U.S birth certificate if he/she is a U.S citizen. 
  • Photos of the couples at the time of their relationship.
  • Joint filed tax returns.
  • Joint bank accounts showing that you share your finances.

You can use alternative documents as secondary evidence. Suppose you do not have some of the required supporting documents. In that case, these alternative documents will help the USCIS decide on your Petition.

Whenever you are filing the Petition for alien relative, you must also file Form I-864 along with the Petition. Form I-864, officially known as the Affidavit of Support, is a legal contract that binds the petitioner that he/she must sponsor the beneficiary financially when the beneficiary gets to the United States. Filing the Affidavit of Support with Form I-130 shows that you are sponsoring your relative financially as well as for a green card. The Affidavit of Support assures the government that the beneficiary you are sponsoring will not be a public charge to the U.S government.

On Sept. 11, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued a decision that allows DHS to resume implementing the Public Charge Ground of Inadmissibility final rule nationwide.

An alien who is likely at any time to become a public charge is generally inadmissible to the United States and ineligible to become a lawful permanent resident. Under the final rule, a public charge is defined as an alien who has received one or more public benefits, as defined in the rule, for more than 12 months within any 36-month period.   

However, receiving public benefits does not automatically make an individual likely at any time in the future to become a public charge. This fact sheet provides information about public charge and public benefits to help noncitizens make informed choices about whether to apply for certain public benefits. You may also find information about the rule on our public charge webpage. 

The final rule addresses the public charge ground of inadmissibility, the public benefit condition application, classifications exempt from the public charge ground of inadmissibility, and public charge bonds.  

The final rule applies to two types of applicants: 

  • Applicants for admission or adjustment of status to that of a lawful permanent resident (such applicants are subject to the rule’s public charge ground of inadmissibility unless Congress has exempted them from this ground) 
  • Applicants for extension of nonimmigrant stay or change of nonimmigrant status (such applicants are subject to the rule’s public benefit condition unless the nonimmigrant classification is exempted by law or regulation from the public charge ground of inadmissibility)

The processing and approval time for Form I-130 varies and depends on factors such as:

  • The extent of family relationship,
  • The caseload at the USCIS field office that you file your form, 
  • The ability to file an accurately prepared petition.

When you file Form I-130, you will know your timeline for an available green card. You can not skip this timeline, except if you are among the group of people allowed to skip the timeline. The timeline is based on your priority date, which is when the USCIS acknowledges your Petition.

Generally, the processing of petitions occurs in the order in which they are received. The outline below describes the steps in the immigrant petition timeline for the majority of relatives.

  • Receipt Of Petition: The USCIS will send a mail to the petitioner when they receive the Petition, and this usually takes place about two to three weeks after filing the Petition.
  • Review Of Petition: The USCIS reviews your Petition within two to four weeks after filing, but petitions for immediate relatives are reviewed first.
  • Period of Approval For Immediate Relatives: Approval time for immediate relatives is usually between five and twelve months.
  • Period of Approval For Family Preference: Approval of Petition for family preference occurs within six months to twenty years after filing the Petition.

After filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, the approval process can take anywhere from 5 to 12 months for immediate relatives and could take several years for family preference categories. This is an approximation. It may be shorter for some and longer for others. You can check your case status online once the petition id filed.

No. The approval of Form I-130 implies that the beneficiary can proceed to the next step of the immigration process. He/she can apply for an adjustment of status if the beneficiary is in the U.S or an immigrant visa overseas. Beneficiaries outside the U.S will get their immigrant visa to the U.S at the United States embassy abroad. Once the immigrant visa is issued to the beneficiary, he/she must be in the United States within six months because the immigrant visa is valid for six months only.

Yes. Suppose your relative applies for an immigrant visa, he/she will undergo an interview at the United States embassy abroad. The interview will be conducted by the consular officer working at the embassy or consulate. But suppose your relative stays in the U.S. In that case, he/she will be interviewed by an officer of the USCIS while applying for the adjustment of status.

During the interview, you don’t need to be present in person if your relative is not in the United States. Still, if your relative is in the U.S, you need to be physically present for the interview.

No. The beneficiary will not receive a green card after the successful completion of the interview. Instead, the U.S embassy will issue an immigrant visa to the beneficiary if he/she is abroad. With the immigrant visa, the beneficiary can travel to the United States. When the beneficiary gets to the United States, he/she can now get the green card. 

However, suppose the beneficiary is in the U.S, he/she can get his/her passport stamped after the approval of the immigrant Petition and successful completion of the interview. The I-551 stamp on his/her passport serves as a proof of status. It establishes that the beneficiary is a lawful permanent resident in the United States. The stamped passport will prove the beneficiary’s status as a lawful permanent resident until he/she gets the green card.

Yes. The USCIS can deny your Petition for alien relative for several reasons, and they will communicate their decision for doing so to you through writing. The two basic reasons 

why the USCIS can deny immigrant petitions are:

  • Supply Of Inadequate Evidence/Documents.
  • Marriage Fraud.

Supply Of Inadequate Evidence/Documents: You may face Petition denial if the USCIS decides that your supporting documents do not show that you are eligible to sponsor your relative seeking the United States green card. 

Marriage Fraud: Your Petition can be denied if your marriage appears fraudulent to the USCIS. This occurs when the USCIS believes that your marriage’s goal is to get the U.S immigration benefits. When the USCIS believes that your marriage is not legitimate, your spouse can not enjoy any future immigration benefits because it will be on record that he/she attempted to scam the United States.