Who is the Petitioner in USCIS Applications?
Updated on 03/12/2023
When completing forms for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for a green card or visa, applicants often wonder which name to put where it asks for the petitioner. The reality is that the petitioner varies depending on the type of USCIS applications.
In dealing with the USCIS alone, visa or green card seekers may confuse what is the petitioner vs. applicant. The applicant is the person who wants the USCIS to grant them an immigration benefit in the United States. However, the petitioner could be the beneficiary of the green card or visa, the employer, or the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) relative.
1. U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident as petitioner
In all family-based immigration petitions, the U.S citizen or lawful permanent resident is the petitioner while his or her eligible relative who would like to immigrate to the United States is the beneficiary. As such, in the Form I-130 immigrant petition, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident should be listed as the petitioner while the foreign national who has qualified relationship with the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident should be listed as the beneficiary. The beneficiary’s dependents, such as their spouse and unmarried children younger than 21, would be considered as derivatives or dependents.
In general, a U.S. citizen can petition green card (lawful permanent residence) for spouse, children no matter married or unmarried, parents and sibling. A lawful permanent resident can only petition green card for spouse and unmarried children. The qualified relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary can be biological, step or adoptive. Learn more in our article Who May File I-130 Immigrant Petition and Its Checklist.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you can also file a Form I-129F for your fiancé(e) so that she or he may obtain an K-1fiancé visa to enter the United States to marry you. Apparently, you as the U.S. citizen, is the petitioner while you beloved is the beneficiary. Check our article What You Should Know Before Starting K-1 Visa Process to learn the entire application process.
If you have been granted a two-year conditional green card, in the petition to remove conditions on your green card (I-751 or I-829 petition), you should list yourself as the petitioner.
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2. Beneficiary as petitioner
For any self-petitioning immigration-related petition, the beneficiary and the petitioner are the same person. In other words, if a foreign national wishes to apply for an immigration benefit on their own, they can list themselves as both the petitioner and beneficiary in the application form. In turn, their dependents, such as their spouse and unmarried children younger than 21, would be considered as derivatives or dependents.
The most commonly known self-petitioning petition is EB-1A, which is employment-based, first-preference visa if you are an alien of extraordinary ability. When you apply for EB-1A to USCIS, you should list yourself as both the petitioner and the beneficiary in the Form I-140 petition.
A foreign national wants to apply for National Interest Waiver (NIW) under EB-2 category also belongs to self-petitioning. Besides, Form I-526 immigrant petition by alien investor (also known as EB-5 investment green card) is also self-petitioning. The alien investor is the petitioner.
Lastly, the widow(er) of a U.S. citizen, spouse or child of an abusive U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, or parent of an abusive U.S. citizen is another group of individuals who may self-petition for green card. As such, they are both the beneficiary and the petitioner in their Form I-360 petitions.
3. Employer as petitioner
In all I-129 petitions to apply for working visa for alien workers, the employer is the petitioner while the alien worker is the beneficiary.
Except for EB-1A, NIW and EB-5 petitions, all other employment-based immigrant petitions need employer sponsorship and therefore should list the employer as the petitioner while the alien worker is the beneficiary.
4. What if you put the wrong person as petitioner on forms?
Visa and green card applications and petitions can often consist of 10 pages or more. There are a lot of questions to be answered, and the language can be confusing. As such, petitioners or applicants may be unsure of what information to put where. Incorrectly completed applications may be rejected or eventually denied by the USCIS, which is very particular about how forms should look.
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