Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, Explained

Updated on 07/31/2022

Two of the key terms under U.S. immigration law are family and proof.

Many benefits under U.S. immigration law are tied to being a member of a family with someone who already is entitled to U.S. immigration benefits.U.S. immigration law can bringtogether or reunite family members.  If one member of a family has U.S. immigration rights and is in the United States, another member of the family can obtain U.S. immigration rights and come to the United States.

Proof is relevant because the U.S. immigration system is significantly based on compliance with applicable law.  If you cannot provide proof that you have complied with applicable law for a U.S. immigration benefit, you will not be allowed to claim the U.S. immigration benefit.

The U.S. immigration document that ties together these key termsof family and proof is Form I-130, “Petition for Alien Relative”.

This article discusses Form I-130.

Form I-130

Uses of Form I-130

Form I-130 is used by a U.S. citizen or green card holder to establish a relationship to an eligible family member who wishes to obtain a green card.  A green card establishes the right to permanently reside in the United States. 

Form I-130 in essence is a “proof” document to establish the family relationship between a U.S. citizen or green card holder and a family member who seeks a green card.

Form I-130 is a vital document for the two principal types of green cards that are issued based on family relationship–“immediate relative” green cards and “family preference” green cards.

You file Form I-130 to obtain an immediate relative green card for the following family relationships:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen (known as an “IR1” green card);
  • The unmarried child (under 21 years of age) of a U.S citizen (known as an “IR2” green card); and
  • The parent of a U.S. citizen (who is at least 21 years old) (known as an “IR5” green card).

You file Form I-130 to obtain a family preference green card for the following family relationships:

  • The unmarried adult (age 21 or over) son or daughter of a U.S. citizen (known as a “F1” green card);
  • The spouses and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) of a U.S. green card holder (known as an “F2A” green card);
  • The unmarried adult (age 21 or over)son or daughter of a U.S. green card holder (known as an “F2B” green card);
  • The married sons and daughters (of any age) of a U.S. citizen (known as an “F3” green card); and
  • The brothers and sisters of a U.S. citizen (who is at least 21 years old) (known as an “F4” green card).

At DYgreencard.com, you can free check eligibility to figure out whether you can sponsor a green card for your alien spouse, parent, child, sibling if you are a U.S. citizen, or spouse/child if you are a green card holder.

I-130 Procedure

Form I-130 Content

Form I-130 has 12 pages.  It consists of nine parts, as follows:

  • Part 1 –“Relationship”.Part 1 asks in part (i) whether the Form I-130 is being filed for a spouse, parent, brother or sister, or child, and (ii) if the Form I-130 is being filed for a child or parent, whether the specific relationship is “[c]hild was born to parents who were married to each other at the time of the child’s birth”, “[s]tepchild/[s]tepparent”, ‘[c]hild was born to parents who were not married to each other at the time of the child’s birth”, or “[c]hild was adopted (not an Orphan or ague Convention afdJHHHague Convention adoptee)”;
  • Part 2 – “Information About You”. Part 2 asks immigration, Social Security Number, name, location and date of birth, gender, mailing address and address history, marital status and marriage history, parents, citizenship, and employment history, questions about the U.S. citizen or green card holder who is filing the Form I-130;
  • Part 3 – “Biographic Information”. Part 3 asks biographic questions about the U.S. citizen or green card holder who is filing the Form I-130;
  • Part 4 – “Information About Beneficiary”. Part 4 asks immigration, Social Security Number, name, location and date of birth, gender, physical address, other address and contact information, marital status and marriage history, family, and employment information, questions about the person seeking a green card pursuant to Form I-130;
  • Part 5 – “Other Information”. Part 5 asks questions about other immigration petitions filed by the U.S. citizen or green card holder who is filing the Form I-130;
  • Part 6 – “Petitioner’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature”;
  • Part 7 – “Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature”;
  • Part 8 – “Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Petition, if Other Than the Petitioner”; and
  • Part 9 – “Additional Information”. If you need extra space to provide additional information, you can type in this part.

Who Can File I-130

The U.S. citizen or green card holder who is filing the Form I-130 is known as the “Petitioner”.  The relative of the Petitioner who is seeking a green card pursuant to Form I-130 is known as the “Beneficiary”. 

Even though there may appear to be a family relationship, because there is not a family relationship for “green card qualification” purposes, you may not file Form I-130 for a person in the following categories:

  • An adoptive parent or adopted child, if the adoption took place after the child turned 16 years of age, or if the child has not been in the legal custody and has not lived with the parents for at least two years before filing the Form I-130;
  • A natural parent, if you gained U.S. citizenship or green card status through adoption or as a special immigrant juvenile;
  • A stepparent or stepchild, if the marriage that created the relationship took place after the child turned 18 years of age;
  • A spouse, if you and your spouse were not both physically present at the marriage ceremony, unless the marriage was consummated;
  • A spouse, if you gained green card status through a prior marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder, unless (i) you are now a naturalized U.S. citizen, (ii) you have been a U.S. green card holder for at least five years, (iii) you can establish by clear and convincing evidence that you did not enter the prior marriage (through which you gained your green card status) in order to evade any U.S. immigration law, or (iv) your prior marriage through which you gained your immigrant status was terminated by the death of your former spouse;
  • A spouse, if you married your spouse while he or she was the subject of an exclusion, deportation, removal, or rescission proceeding regarding his or her right to be admitted into or to remain in the United States, or while a decision in any of these proceedings was before any court on judicial review (however, you may be eligible for the “bona fide marriage” exemption generally if (i) you prove by clear and convincing evidence that the marriage is legally valid where it took place and that you and your spouse married in good faith and not for the purpose of obtaining green card status for your spouse and that no fee or any other consideration (other than appropriate attorney fees) was given to you for your filing of Form I-130, or (ii) your spouse has lived outside the United States, after the marriage, for a period of at least two years);
  • Any person, if U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) determines that such person entered into or attempted or conspired to enter into a marriage in order to evade U.S. immigration laws; and
  • A grandparent, grandchild, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, cousin, or parent-in-law.

Who Needs to File I-130A

If the Beneficiary of the Form I-130 is a spouse seeking a green card, the spouse must complete Form I-130A.  Form I-130A is then filed with Form I-130 (filed by the Petitioner).

Form I-130A is six pages and consists of seven parts, as follows:

  • Part 1 – “Information About You”.Part 1 asks questions about the “Spouse Beneficiary’s” immigration information, name, address history, and parents;
  • Part 2 – “Information About Your Employment”. Part 2 asks questions about the “Spouse Beneficiary’s” employment history for the last five years, whether inside or outside the United States;
  • Part 3 –“Information About Your Employment Outside the United States”. Part 3 asks questions about the “Spouse Beneficiary’s” last occupation outside the United States;
  • Part 4 – “Spouse Beneficiary’s Statement, Contact Information, Certification, and Signature”;
  • Part 5 –“Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature”;
  • Part 6 – “Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Form, if Other Than the Spouse Beneficiary”; and
  • Part 7 – “Additional Information”.

Documents to Submit with I-130

With the Form I-130, certain documents also need to be submitted.  The specific documents that need to be submitted will vary based on the specific relationship that is sought to be proven.

If the Petitioner is a U.S. citizen, it is necessary to prove the Petitioner’s U.S. citizenship.  To prove U.S. citizenship, you need to submit a copy of your birth certificate showing that you were born in the United States, a copy of your naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship, a copy of Form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, a copy of your valid U.S. passport, or an original statement from a U.S. consular officer verifying that you are a U.S. citizen with a valid passport.

If the Petitioner is a U.S. green card holder, it is necessary to prove the Petitioner’s green card status.  To prove green card status, you need to submit a copy of the front and back of your green card, a I-551 stamp in your passport, or a copy of I-485 approval notice.

The Instructions for Form I-130 generally describe the varying types of documents that need to be submitted with the Form I-130 for different types of Beneficiaries.

For example:

  • For a spouse, you need to submit (i) a copy of your marriage certificate, (ii) if either you or your spouse was previously married, copies of documents showing that each of the prior marriages was legally terminated, (iii) two identical color passport-style photographs (2 x 2 inches) of yourself and your spouse (if your spouse is in the United States) taken within 30 days of filing the Form I-130, and (iv) documentation that may prove you have a bona fide marriage. If you don’t have much documentation when filing Form I-130, no worry, you can always submit more evidence at the future green card interview;
  • For a child and you are the mother, you need to submit a copy of the child’s birth certificate showing your name and the name of your child; and
  • For a child and you are the father, you need to submit a copy of the child’s birth certificate showing both parents’ names, your marriage certificate or divorce certificate to the child’s mother, and proof of legal termination of the parents’ prior marriages, if any.

I-130 Filing Fee

The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535.  There is no additional filing fee for Form I-130A.

How to File I-130

You can either file Form I-130 online or by mail.

For online filing, you need to create a myUSCIS account first. Please be careful, if online filing, all notices from USCIS will be notified and can be downloaded in this online account. No physical mail to your address at all. The I-130 filing fee should be paid online by credit card, debit card or ACH.

For paper filing, the Form I-130 should be typed or printed legibly in black ink. You should enter all dates in “mm/dd/yyyy” format. The Form I-130 must be properly signed by a wet signature.  A stamped or typewritten name in place of a signature will not be accepted by USCIS. Scanned photocopy of the signature page is acceptable. The I-130 filing fee can be paid by credit card (using Form G-1450), regular check or money order drawn on a bank or other financial institution located in the United States and payable in U.S. currency.  The check or money order should be made payable to U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The I-130 filing address of paper filing will depend on where you live and if you are filing Form I-485 application for adjustment of status, with Form I-130 (what is known as “concurrent filing” ). Concurrently filing is allowed and recommended for immediate relative green card applications (as described in the first section) if green card applicants entered the U.S. legally. Concurrently filing is also available for F2A green card applications when the visa number is current and green card applicants is maintaining their legal status in the U.S.

With DYgreencard.com, we can help you file Form I-130 standalone or concurrently file Form I-130 and Form I-485 in such a simple way. All you need to do is just answer a few questions and upload customized documents to our online platform. Then we take care of the rest. Even better, a skilled immigration lawyer can answer your questions and will fully review the entire application package ready to file with USCIS. Learn more or start your application today!

I-130 Processing Time

There is no exact processing time for each Form I-130.  Every Form I-130 will have its own particular facts and issues, which will affect relative processing times. Form I-130, in some cases, can be processed in a few months.  In other cases, it can take several years to process Form I-130. You can check USCIS processing times here. USCIS updates its case processing times periodically.

As with any U.S. immigration form, because of the possibility of significant delay in processing, you should file Form I-130 as soon as possible.

Immigration Steps After Filing I-130

It is very important to note that approval of Form I-130 does not mean that the Beneficiary thereby will immediately obtain a green card. Instead, there are other steps that must be followed afterapproval of the Form I-130 before a green card is issued to the Beneficiary.

The specific steps that must be followed after the Form I-130 is approved will depend on whether the Beneficiary is then located in the United States.

If the Beneficiary is not then located in the United States, the Beneficiary’s green card application will be subject to consular processing. Under consular processing, the Beneficiary’s green card application will next be processed by the  U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (“NVC”).  After NVC, the Beneficiary’s green card application generally will be processed by the applicable U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the Beneficiary is living.This processing will include a medical examination and an interview.

If the Beneficiary is then located in the United States, the Beneficiary’s green card application will be subject to adjustment of status. Under adjustment of status, the Beneficiary’s green card application will continue to be processed by USCIS.  The key document under adjustment of status is the above-described Form I-485. Adjustment of status processing will include a medical examination and biometrics. Interview is generally required for marriage-based green card.

It should be noted that both consular processing and adjustment of status require a visa number to be available before the Beneficiary’s green card application can proceed.  This results in a critical advantage of immediate relative green card applications over family preference green card applications.  A visa number is always available for immediate relative green card applications.  On the other hand, it can often take several years for a visa number to be available for family preference green card applications. 

Conclusion

Consular processing and adjustment of status obviously are critical parts of the green card application process.  However, it is important to remember that these concepts only become relevant after a Form I-130 is approved.  Simply stated, you cannot even get to “first base” for the approval of your green card application if your Form I-130 is not approved.

The U.S. immigration system values certain family relationships in issuing green cards.  It is necessary, however, that the required family relationship be proven.  Form I-130 represents an essential document in proving that the required family relationship exists and a green card potentially can be issued to a family member.

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