- Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130)
- Who Qualifies as a Beneficiary for Petitioning?
- Who Can File a Petition for an Alien Relative?
- Who Cannot File a Petition for an Alien Relative?
- Required Documentation for the Petition for Alien Relative
- The Application Process for the Petition for Alien Relative
- Application Processing Time
- Application Fee for a Petition for Alien Relatives
- What to do after the Petition for Alien Relative has been approved?
- How can Total Law help?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130)
A petition for an alien relative is used to establish a valid relationship between a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and foreign family members seeking to travel and live in the U.S. permanently. For example, if you are filing an I-130 petition for a marriage visa, the petition must be able to prove that the marriage is valid.
However, there are documents you need to submit to prove the validity of the relationship that is being established. You can submit a marriage certificate, joint bank account statement, or joint insurance documents to prove the authenticity of the relationship. Petition for alien relatives allows your U.S. sponsor to establish their relationship with you.
Petition for an alien relative is the first step a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must take when applying for a family-based green card. The U.S. sponsor submits the immigrant visa petition to the United State Citizenship and Immigration Services (USICS). The USICS is directed by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). After submitting the petition, you will be sent a receipt notice in your email that your petition is being processed.
Once your petition has been approved, it will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), after which the foreign family member (applicant) can start the visa application process. If you are a U.S. citizen, your spouse and unmarried children under 21 will have immigrant visas immediately available to them.
However, if you are sponsoring a relative who doesn’t fall under the category of ‘immediate relative,’ then they will have to wait in line until a visa becomes available. You must be 21 years and above to qualify as a sponsor. However, a U.S. permanent resident cannot sponsor their parents or siblings, as there as limitations to who you can sponsor as a U.S. permanent resident. For your petition for an alien relative to be approved, your alien relative must be able to prove their relation to you.
Who Qualifies as a Beneficiary for Petitioning?
As a petitioner (U.S. sponsor), you can petition for the following:
- Unmarried son or daughter who is 21 years old or older
- Married son or daughter
- Unmarried son or daughter who is under 21 years old
Who Can File a Petition for an Alien Relative?
The following people can petition for an alien relative:
- A U.S. citizen can file a petition for an alien relative (I-130 petition) for their spouses, parents, siblings, and children.
- A U.S. green card holder can file a petition for an alien relative (I-130) for their unmarried children and spouses.
Who Cannot File a Petition for an Alien Relative?
There are cases where a U.S. sponsor cannot sponsor their relative due to some issues. However, you cannot file a petition for an alien relative in the following cases:
- Far extended family like a grandparent, grandchild, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, cousin, or parent-in-law
- An adoptive parent or adopted child, if the child was adopted after he or she turned 16.
- You cannot file for your biological parent if you become a green card holder or obtain U.S. citizenship through adoption.
- A stepparent or stepchild, if the marriage that created the step relationship happened after the child turned 18.
- A spouse, if you and your spouse were not both physically present at the marriage ceremony.
- A spouse, if you become a green card holder through a prior marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder. You can only file for a petition if you have become a naturalized U.S. citizen or have been a green card holder for at least five years.
- A spouse, if you married your spouse while she was facing a hearing in an immigration court, facing deportation, or other reasons.
However, your petition will be denied if USCIS discovers that the relative or spouse attempted to marry for immigration or green card purposes.
Required Documentation for the Petition for Alien Relative
There are certain documents you need to submit when applying for a petition for an alien relative to prove your relationship with the alien relative. The essence of these documents is to establish a relationship between the sponsor and the alien relative.
However, the documents needed are:
- Proof of the sponsor’s status as a U.S. citizen or Green Cardholder. To prove this, you must be able to provide your birth certificate, permanent resident card, naturalization certificate, etc.
- Two passport-sized photographs.
- Proof of the legally valid relationship between you and your alien relative. Documents like marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc.
- Proof of the nationality of the beneficiary or alien relative like passport, naturalization certificate, etc.
- Proof of any name changes of sponsor or beneficiary.
There are cases where original documents might not be able to be located due to reasons beyond control. Hence, secondary documents might be accepted to back up the petition. For instance, you can get a statement from the issuing government agency in your country of birth stating that your birth certificate is not available from that agency. You can also get other records like school records or baptismal certificates that can be used in place of a birth certificate. You can also get a written statement from any of your relatives to certify the information regarding your birth.
When applying for a petition for an alien relative, you will need to file Form I-130 online or through the mail.
For you to file the petition online, you will need to follow the following process:
Step 1: Create an online account on the USCIS website
Creating an online account with USCIS Makes it easier for you to check the status of your application, receive case alerts and correspondence and upload the necessary documentation.
Step 2: Fill out all the information in the application form and pay the application fee.
Step 3: Upload all your supporting documentation
For you to file the petition through the mail, you will need to follow the processing process:
Step 1: If you live in the U.S. and want to apply in person, you must confirm the address to which you will send the petition. Regardless of the state where you live and whether your relative is also filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), the USCIS requires that you send your petition to Dallas, Chicago, or Phoenix Lockbox.
Step 2: If you live outside the U.S., you may need to file your petition at the USCIS Dallas Lockbox online. In cases where you might have special circumstances, you may request to file your petition at any U.S. embassy closest to you.
However, ensure you fill out all the necessary information on the form and sign and submit all the supporting documents requested.
Application Processing Time
The processing time for a petition differs depending on the USCIS service centre. However, the normal processing time for an I-130 petition is between 7 and 15 months, but there are cases where it might take longer. The processing time depends on the family relationship between you and the beneficiary and the sponsor’s status, whether he/she is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
Delay in processing time can also be a result of not filing the petition according to the required standard. To avoid issues regarding a delay in processing times, you must fill out all the information according to the standard and submit all the requested documents.
Application Fee for a Petition for Alien Relatives
You must be prepared to pay the $535 government filing fee if you want to file the petition for an alien relative. You have the option of paying by check or credit card. Given that USCIS frequently increases costs, this amount is liable to vary.
For this reason, before submitting Form I-130, you should visit the USCIS online page. You won’t be able to continue with the application if the filing fee is not paid. However, you can get in touch with one of our immigration attorneys, who will assist you in finding the most recent information and detailing the costs involved.
What to do after the Petition for Alien Relative has been approved?
The applicant may begin the process for a Family-Based Visa after the Petition has been granted. Two types of family-based green cards are available, depending on the relationship between the applicant and the relative who is continuously residing in the US:
- Family Preference: There is an annual cap on the number of beneficiaries. The applicant must hold off on applying for a visa until one becomes available after the Petition for Alien Relative is granted.
- Immediate Relative: Designed for the petitioner’s closest family members. That includes the petitioner’s parents, unmarried biological or adopted children, and spouses.
Since there is no limit on the number of visas in this category, applicants can start their process for a US Green Card as soon as the Petition is granted.
Total Law’s excellent immigration lawyers are vastly experienced in dealing with U.S. petitions for alien relatives and provide advice and support to make your application process smooth.
The immigration lawyers in our law firm will help you determine that you meet the eligibility criteria for a U.S. petition for an alien relative and will advise you in detail on which supporting documentation you should have. In addition, years of experience with this process have made us aware of the common mistakes that applicant make that causes application refusal. Therefore, we will help you avoid these errors to ensure that your application is consistent and readily accepted.
If you’ve had a previous refusal, Total Law can help you file an appeal or walk you through the re-application process to ensure you get accepted. So contact us today at +1 844 290 6312 to start your journey towards a successful U.S. visa application.
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Form I-130, or petition for an alien relative, is the first step initiated by the U.S. sponsor when applying for a family-based green card. The purpose of Form I-130 is to prove a valid relationship between the U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the beneficiary. Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence) is the application for adjustment of status that your relative fills out after he/she has arrived in the U.S. to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence).
A petition for an alien relative can be denied due to one reason or the other. However, if your petition is denied, you will be sent a Form I-797, a Notice of Action, in your mail. The good news is that if you feel your petition was unduly rejected, you may appeal to the Administrative Appeals Office (AAO), which must be within 30 days from when the notice was sent.