What is Form I-130?
Form I-130, officially known as the “Petition for Alien Relative,” is a document used by United States citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to establish the qualifying familial relationship with a foreign national relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States. This form is filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is the first step in the process of sponsoring a family member for a family-based immigrant visa or green card.
The purpose of Form I-130 is to prove the existence of a qualifying family relationship, such as that of a spouse, parent, child, or sibling. The U.S. citizen or permanent resident petitioner must complete the form and submit it along with supporting documentation to demonstrate the family relationship. Once the I-130 petition is approved by USCIS, the sponsored relative can move forward with the visa application process, which may involve consular processing if the relative is outside the United States or adjustment of status if the relative is already in the U.S.
It’s important to note that different categories of relatives have different preference categories, which can impact the waiting time for visa availability. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21, generally have shorter waiting times compared to other family preference categories.
The sponsoring U.S. citizen or permanent resident is often referred to as the “petitioner,” and the foreign national relative is referred to as the “beneficiary.” The I-130 petition is a crucial first step in reuniting families through the U.S. immigration system.
How to fill out Form I-130?
Filling out Form I-130, the “Petition for Alien Relative,” is an important step in sponsoring a family member for a family-based immigrant visa or green card in the United States. Here are some general guidelines on how to fill out Form I-130:
- Download the Form: You can download Form I-130 from the official website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Ensure that you are using the most up-to-date version of the form.
- Read the Instructions: Before you begin filling out the form, carefully read the instructions provided with Form I-130. The instructions will provide valuable information on who can file the form, which family relationships qualify, and detailed guidance on how to complete each section.
- Gather Supporting Documents: Collect all the necessary supporting documents that prove the qualifying family relationship. This may include marriage certificates, birth certificates, adoption records, and other relevant documents. Ensure that all documents are in English or accompanied by certified translations.
- Complete the Form: Fill out the form accurately and completely. Here are some key points to keep in mind while completing Form I-130:
- Use black ink and write legibly. If a section does not apply to your case, write “N/A” (not applicable).
- Be honest and provide accurate information. False information can lead to serious consequences.
- Use your full legal name and provide your contact information in Part 1 if you are the petitioner.
- Include Payment: Include the required filing fee with your Form I-130. The fee amount can change, so check the USCIS website or the form instructions for the current fee.
- Sign and Date: Both the petitioner and the preparer (if someone other than the petitioner is filling out the form) must sign and date the form where indicated.
- Check for Required Documentation: Review the instructions and checklist to ensure you have included all required supporting documents and evidence to establish the qualifying familial relationship.
- Mail the Form: Send the completed Form I-130 and all supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS address as listed in the instructions. Be sure to use the correct mailing address for your location.
- Receive and Respond to Notices: After USCIS receives your petition, they will send you a receipt notice (Form I-797) to acknowledge its receipt. In some cases, they may request additional information or documentation. Follow any instructions provided by USCIS promptly.
- Wait for a Decision: USCIS will process your I-130 petition and notify you of the approval or denial. If approved, the case will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) or a U.S. embassy or consulate, depending on the beneficiary’s location, to continue the immigrant visa application process.
Form I-130 Checklist of Required Documents
When filing Form I-130, the “Petition for Alien Relative,” you should include a comprehensive set of supporting documents to establish the qualifying familial relationship and support your case. Here is Form I-130 checklist of commonly required documents to include with your petition:
- Form I-130: Make sure the form is properly filled out, signed, and dated.
- Filing Fee: Include the required filing fee. Check the USCIS website or the form instructions for the current fee amount.
- G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional): If you wish to receive electronic notifications about your case’s status, you can include this form.
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency: Include a copy of one of the following for the petitioner (U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident):
- Birth certificate (U.S. citizen petitioner)
- U.S. passport (U.S. citizen petitioner)
- Certificate of naturalization (U.S. citizen petitioner)
- Certificate of citizenship (U.S. citizen petitioner)
- Permanent resident card (green card) (lawful permanent resident petitioner)
- Proof of Qualifying Family Relationship: Provide documents to establish the family relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary. These documents may include:
- Marriage certificate (for spouse petitions)
- Birth certificates (for parent-child relationships)
- Adoption decrees (for adopted children)
- Divorce decrees or death certificates (if applicable)
- Passport Photos: Include passport-sized photos of the petitioner and the beneficiary. Follow USCIS photo requirements.
- Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): If required, the U.S. petitioner may need to submit an Affidavit of Support to demonstrate the ability to financially support the beneficiary. This is more commonly required for family-sponsored immigrants who are not immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.
- Supporting Financial Documents: If submitting an Affidavit of Support, include financial documents such as tax returns, W-2 forms, pay stubs, and employment verification to prove income.
- Proof of Legal Name Changes: If the petitioner or beneficiary has legally changed their name, include documentation such as marriage certificates, court orders, or divorce decrees.
- Translation of Documents: If any documents are not in English, provide certified translations along with the original documents.
- G-325A, Biographic Information: Include a completed Form G-325A for both the petitioner and the beneficiary, if required.
- Evidence of Bona Fide Relationship (Marriage-Based Petitions): If you are petitioning for a spouse, provide documents to demonstrate the bona fide nature of the marriage. This may include photos, joint bank account statements, leases or property documents, and correspondence.
- Additional Documentation (if applicable): Depending on the specific family relationship and circumstances, USCIS may request additional evidence to support the petition.
- Check or Money Order: Ensure that any checks or money orders for filing fees are correctly filled out and payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.”
- Cover Letter (optional): Some applicants choose to include a cover letter summarizing the contents of the package and providing contact information