What is a Petition for an Alien Relative?
If you are from the UK but wish to join a family member in the US then you could be eligible for one of the family-based Green Cards. To qualify for a family-based Green Card your US relative will need to act as a sponsor and file a petition for you to be granted entry to the United States.
Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the first step in immigrating to the United States and securing your Green Card. The form can only be filed by a US citizen or lawful permanent resident and while approval of the petition itself does not grant you any immigration rights, it is a mandatory step in the process of applying for your immigrant visa.
Form I-130 is used to establish the relationship between a US citizen or lawful permanent resident and the overseas family member they wish to bring to the US. Once the petition has been approved an application for Lawful Permanent Residence status can be made.
Who can you file an I-130 petition for?
To file a Petition for Alien Relative you must be either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident. The type of family member that you can file a petition on behalf of depends on which of the two you are.
US citizens can file an I-130 petition for:
- A spouse
- An unmarried child under the age of 21
- Unmarried sons or daughters age 21 or older
- Married sons or daughters of any age
- Brothers of sisters
Lawful Permanent Residents can file a petition for:
- A spouse
- Unmarried children under the age of 21
- Unmarried sons or daughters age 21 or over
How to file Form I-130
You can download form I-130 online, once you have completed the form you must file it with the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), you can either do this online at the USCIS website or by post.
When completing Form I-130 you will be expected to provide details about yourself and the relative that you are filing the form on behalf of. If you wish to petition for more than one relative then you must file a separate I-130 form for them.
It’s important that you complete all sections of the form, if you fail to complete any of the sections then your form will not be approved. There are four sections to Form I-130, in each section, you will be expected to provide the following information:
- Part 1 – Relationship: This section of the form asks you for details about the type of relative you are filing the form for.
- Part 2 – Information About You: This section requires you to submit a variety of information about yourself (the petitioner) including your full name, date of birth, address, information about your marriage if you are married, details about your family and your employment history.
- Part 3 – Biographic information: This section asks you for information about your identity including your ethnicity, race, height, weight, eye colour and hair colour.
- Part 4 – Information About Beneficiary: The final section is for information about the beneficiary (the foreign national who the form is for), you must include their full name, date of birth, address, marital information, details about their family, employment information and immigration history.
Once you have completed all of the above sections and have signed the form you can file it using your chosen method.
As well as completing all of the sections, you must also submit a number of supporting documents alongside form I-130.
You will need to show evidence that you are a US citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident, this could include documents such as a copy of your birth certificate, naturalization certificate or Permanent Residence Card as well as other types of documents that show your citizenship or permanent resident status.
You will also need to provide evidence of the relationship with the foreign relative you are petitioning for. The required documents will vary depending on the type of relative that you are petitioning for but you may need to submit the following types of documents:
- A copy of your marriage certificate
- Evidence that any previous marriages have been terminated
- A copy of your child’s birth certificate
- A copy of your birth certificate
- A copy of the birth certificate for you and your sibling
If you are petitioning for a spouse you will be expected to provide additional supporting documents to prove that your marriage is genuine, this could include:
- Evidence that you own a property together
- A joint tenancy agreement
- Evidence of joint financial resources
- Birth certificates of any children you have together
- Affidavits from third parties who have personal knowledge that your marriage is genuine
Full details about the documents you will need to submit can be found in the USCIS I-130 instructions.
How long does it take to petition for an alien relative?
The processing time for a Petition for Alien Relative varies and can take anywhere from 5 months up to several years depending on who you are filing for.
Once you have paid the filing fee and filed your Petition for Alien Relative USCIS will usually send you a receipt notice, also known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action, to confirm that they have received your petition. This usually takes 2 to 3 weeks.
USCIS may then begin processing your petition, the time it takes for your petition to be approved can vary depending on whether the petition beneficiary is classed in the immediate relative or family preference category. According to US immigration law, an immediate relative is the spouse, unmarried children and parents of a U.S citizen and these petitions are given priority. Other types of eligible family members come under the family preference category.
It usually takes around 5 to 12 months for an I-130 form to be approved for an immediate relative. Approval for a form in the family preference category can be granted within 6 months but usually takes much longer and can take years. This is because, unlike the immediate relative category, the number of visas available for family preference categories is limited.
Becoming a lawful permanent resident of the US
Filing form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is just one part of the process of applying for a family-based Green Card. Once you have filed the form there are two ways that UK citizens can continue with their immigrant visa application.
If you are already in the US and an immigrant visa is available to you then you can apply for your Green Card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Immediate Relatives can file Form I-485 and Form I-130 concurrently because a visa is always available to them, however, family preference applicants must have an approved petition and an immigrant visa number before they can file Form I-485.
If you are still in the United Kingdom then you can apply for your Green Card through consular processing. If you are applying using this route then your approved I-130 form will be forwarded to the U.S Embassy in London. Once you have been notified that the embassy has received this you will need to complete Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application and attend a visa interview at the embassy. Following your visa interview, a consular officer will decide whether to approve your Green Card application.
How can Total Law help?
Applying for a family-based Green Card is an incredibly complex process, but our lawyers are here to support you throughout the application process.
Our team are based in the UK but also offer all of their services remotely, because of this we can work with both the US petitioner and UK beneficiary when it comes to US Green Card applications. Our lawyers can answer any questions that you may have about Form I-130 and can fill in the paperwork on your behalf. Our lawyers will make sure that the Form is filed correctly and will update you about the next steps that need to be taken.
For more information about the I-130 Petition, or for assistance with your Green Card application, get in touch with our team today on 0333 305 9375.
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The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535. This fee is non-refundable and must be paid. The filing fee can be paid using a variety of methods including a money order, personal check or cashier’s check.
The Petition for Alien Relative must be filled out by a US citizen or someone with Lawful Permanent Resident Status, it is not filled out by the foreign national applying for the Green Card.
If Form I-130 is approved the beneficiary (the foreign family member) can then apply to become a permanent resident in the US. If they are already in the US and a visa is available then they can get their green card by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.