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I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
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What Is the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative?
The U.S. is still considered by many to be the land of opportunity—many who have relocated here dream of providing the same advantages to their loved ones. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can help foreign citizens to get permanent residence in the U.S.
The first step typically involves filing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). When a US citizen or green card holder files Form I-130, they become the “petitioner” or the “sponsor.” The family member becomes the “beneficiary.”
The citizen petitioner can reserve an immigrant visa for the family member by filing Form I-130. The process of approving the petition can take from six months to several years. That heavily depends on the type of family relationship between them.
Well-prepared petitions may have a better chance of receiving quick approval. But, to achieve that, the help of an Atlanta family immigration lawyer may be needed.
I-130 Form Requirements
It’s important to realize that there are two significant categories of family-based immigrants in the US immigration system. They include the immediate relative and the family preference category. Both U.S. citizens and green card holders can petition specific family members. But, not all relatives qualify for the petition.
Immediate relatives are the top priority. That means they can always get an immigrant visa. They don’t have to worry about certain reasons that might make it hard to get a visa. Plus, their applications are usually processed more quickly.
The spouse of a US citizen, their unmarried child younger than 21, and their parents are considered immediate relatives.
Other family-based immigrants belong to the family-preference category. The US Congress allocates a certain number of green cards each year. Since the demand often exceeds that number, these immigrants must wait longer. Siblings and married children fall into this category.
Necessary Form I-130 Petition Supporting Documents
Filing a Form I-130 petition to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is not the only document to be filed. Additional supporting documents have to be included with that immigrant visa petition.
Required supporting documents have to prove the following:
That there is a qualifying relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary
That the sponsor is a United States citizen or has a lawful permanent resident status
That the relationship is not fake
The nationality of the beneficiary seeking a green card
Of course, the petitioner has to be eligible to file Form I-130 in the first place. A citizen filing the petition can include a copy of their birth certificate as proof.
Petitioning for a spouse visa will involve proving a marriage is legal. That means a current marriage certificate will be needed. If one of you had a prior marriage, proof that the marriage was terminated is also required. A citizen spouse with a history of short marriages to foreign nationals may become the subject of a marriage fraud investigation.
If some documents aren’t available, alternative documents can be submitted. They are called secondary evidence. For example, some people can’t obtain their birth certificates. But they can get a government agency statement confirming that is the case.
I-130 Petition Filing Process
Certain circumstances may exclude a sponsor from filing a Form I-130. That can be the case even when a valid family relationship exists. For instance, an individual can’t petition for the following individuals:
- Their spouse, if they were involved in any immigration court proceedings during the marriage
- Their biological parent, if they obtained a green card through adoption
These are merely two examples of individuals not eligible to file an I-130 petition.
If you are eligible and everything is in order, you can submit your I-130 petition. The USCIS will accept petitions filed online or sent via traditional mail. Where you send your application depends on your relative’s immigration status and your location. If you do not live in the US, you may also be able to file your petition at the nearest US Embassy. In addition, you can also file it online.
How to File I-130 Online
You need to create a MyUSCIS account on the USCIS website to submit your petition online. Afterward creating an account, you will receive all alerts and updates on your application through your account. It can also be used to see your case correspondence and check your current status. However, make sure you keep your login information in a safe place.
I-130 Processing Time
Generally, USCIS resolves immediate relative petitions more quickly. The average processing time is estimated to be between 6 and 12 months. However, in reality, it can take much longer. Processing times for a US citizen filing for a parent, spouse, or child under 21 are the shortest. They last around one year.
Family preference petitions will likely take significantly longer. For example, a US citizen filing for a married son or daughter might wait several years.
How Much Is the Form I-130 Filing Fee?
The government filing fee for an I-130 petition is $535 at the moment. If a biometrics screening is necessary, an additional fee of $85 will be required. But bear in mind the filing fees could increase significantly during 2023.
How Can an Attorney Help With Form I-130
Do you want to obtain a lawful permanent residence or a US citizen status? Family-based immigration is not the only way. There may be other green card categories available in your case.
Consulting with immigration attorneys before filling out immigrant visa petitions can be crucial. That way, you can minimize the chances of your application being denied.
Remember that if you make mistakes on your application, USCIS won’t tell you how to resolve the problem. Suppose you have provided unnecessary information that can harm your case. The USCIS won’t warn you. But an immigration lawyer will. They can make sure everything is in order before submitting your request.
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