I-130: Petition for Alien Relative

What is Form I-130?

While there are numerous methods of legally immigrating to the United States, foreigners with family members who are either U.S. citizens or permanent residents (green card holders) may immigrate through family. Foreigners with the intent of immigrating to the U.S. can request their lawful relative to file Form I-130 to Petition for Alien Relative. Depending on the legal status of the sponsor, USCIS has different guidelines on the definition of eligible relative. Applicants should check the list below before filing Form I-130. To start the immigration process, applicants can download a copy of Form I-130.


U.S. Citizens Filing I-130 Form

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children of any age
  • Married children of any age
  • Siblings (if the applicant is older than 21 of age)
  • Parents (if the applicant is older than 21 of age)


Permanent Residents Filing I-130 Form

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children of any age

Any other relative cannot be included in Form I-130. Examples include stepchild, grandparents, niece, nephew, uncle, and aunt. Applications with the invalid relative relationship will be rejected.


Processing Times

The processing of the Form I-130 is based on a first come first serve basis. If an applicant has filled and submitted the form first, their form is likely to undergo processing prior to others. Once submitted, applicants can use the USCIS processing times to estimate the amount of time required to hear back from the agency. Typically, the USCIS updates information every 45 days to keep applicants informed of the latest status. For I-130, the typical processing time is approximately 5 months. In order to ensure expedited processing, the USCIS has divided every form into six groups. Your application will fall into one of the following groups below:

  • Filling of permanent resident for husband/wife or child below 21 years of age
  • U.S. citizen filing for a spouse, parent, or child below the age of 21
  • U.S. citizen filing for an unmarried child above the age of 21 years
  • Permanent resident filling for an unmarried son or daughter over 21
  • U.S. citizen filing for a married son or daughter over 21
  • Petition for Alien Relative

Although the USCIS tries to keep the processing time under 5 months, recent processing times may go as high as 15 months. This is generally due to issues on the initial application such as incomplete documentation and inability to fill the form correctly.


Instructions and Processing the I-130 Form

Form I-130 consists of eight parts. While applicants must fill out each section of the form, applicants should provide special attention to the following selections. Failing to complete these sections will result in automatic rejection from the USCIS.


Part 1 – Relationship

  • Applicants must fill out the relationship with the beneficiary

Part 2 – Information About You

  • Applicants must fill out name, date of birth, mailing address, marital status

Part 4 – Information About Beneficiary

  • Applicants must fill out beneficiary’s name, date of birth, physical address, and marital status

For each application, there is a filing fee of $535.


USCIS Review Process

Reviewing procedure takes around three to four weeks after the submission of the application. After this, USCIS reviews your petition carefully. The petition can be broken into two categories: 1) immediate relatives and 2) family preference. The two differs in terms of review time as well as other aspects. The immediate relative category is dealt with way before the permanent spouse category. In addition, there is not a visa limit number on the immediate relative category.

All other family connections are considered “Family Preference” category that usually has a longer processing time. The waiting time may take more than a year. However, there may be circumstances the USCIS will prioritize over. For instance, an applicant who has requested of a companion or unmarried youngster is given a high need in the F-1 visa.

Immediate Relatives Approval

As mentioned earlier, the request for the immediate family relatives is prioritized according to the USCIS guidelines. Most of the petitions for immediate relatives are reviewed and processed within a span of 5 to 9 months. If you have filed another form to adjust the status in the U.S. (I-485), the review process would also include reviewing the I-485 form. However, if the applicant currently does not reside in the U.S., the USCIS will transmit the information to the appropriate country’s consulate to conduct the confirmation procedure.

Immediate relatives account for a particular class of people in the family. These are listed below.

  • Unmarried Children below the age of 21 years
  • Spouse
  • Parents of the U.S. Citizen

Note that the USCIS has not imposed an annual cap on the number of visas issued to the immediate relative category.


Family Preference Approval

For the family preference category, the immigrant visa numbers are limited on an annual basis. In addition, the number highly depends on the date when you filed your petition which is called the priority date. Approval for this category may take years. However, there is one exception.

If the petition comes under the F-1 visa, the approval is generally processed within months. To check, use the priority date assigned to your petition on the visa bulletin of the state department’s website.


Processing Receipt from the USCIS

After applicants successfully submit the form, they can expect to hear back from the USCIS within 2 to 3 weeks. In addition, USCIS shall send Form I-797C, Notice of Action, acknowledging the receipt of the application. If additional documents are required, applicants shall receive a Request for Evidence, which can delay the immigration process. To avoid delays, applicants are encouraged to submit all required documents with the initial application.

Form I-130 processing time can vary depending on the USCIS caseload at the time. However, one determining factor is the U.S. citizenship status of the applicant. If the applicant is a U.S. citizen, applicants can expect an approval within 12 months as there is no quota limit on green cards given to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. If the applicant is a permanent resident, applicants can expect an approval within 6 months to 6 years. There is a limited number of immigrant visas issued to relatives of permanent residents. Since the USCIS processes I-130 requests on first come first serve basis, applicants in this category will receive a Priority Date after filing Form I-130. To find the current processing time for I-130, visit the USCIS website.

What is the Latest Form I-130 Edition?

The latest edition of the Form I-130 is the October 2019 version. This form must be used for all new applications for Alien Relative petitions.

What are the Required Documents for Form I-130?

1. Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence for the petitioner, such as a copy of a birth certificate, passport, or green card

2. Copy of birth certificate of the beneficiary or other proof of relationship to the petitioner

3. Evidence of legal name change if applicable (marriage certificate, divorce decree, court order)

4. Evidence of legal entry into US if applicable (passport, visa)

5. Proof of financial support if applicable (bank statements, tax returns, pay stubs)

6. Photographs of petitioner and beneficiary

7. Evidence that any prior marriages of petitioner or beneficiary were legally terminated (divorce decree, death certificate)

How to Submit Form I-130?

To submit Form I-130, you will need to fill out the form and all of the accompanying documents. After that, you can either mail or bring the documents, along with the filing fee, to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.

If you are mailing your application, you will want to make sure that you send it either certified mail or return receipt requested. This will ensure that it is received safely and that you have proof that it arrived.

If you would like to bring the application in person, you can do this at a local USCIS office. To find out where your closest office is located, you can visit the USCIS website.

Once you have completed the application, collected all necessary documents, and paid the filing fee, you can submit your Form I-130. USCIS will then review your application and contact you if they have any questions or need more information to process your application.

What are the Filing Tips for Form I-130?

1. Make sure you have all the necessary documents. You will need your birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, employment records and any other documents that prove the validity of your relationship.

2. Gather up all the supporting documentation for each person on the form. This includes joint tax returns, joint bank accounts and other proof of joint ownership or responsibility.

3. Carefully read through Form I-130 and make sure you understand each question and answer truthfully.

4. Double-check all names and dates on the form to ensure accuracy.

5. Fill out the form completely and make sure you sign it at the bottom where indicated.

6. Submit the form with the appropriate fee to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

7. Keep copies of all documents submitted and a copy of the form for your records.

Are There Special Instructions for Form I-130?

Yes, there are special instructions for Form I-130, “Petition for Alien Relative.”

1. Make sure that you have all the required documents. You will need the following documents: a copy of the U.S. citizen’s passport or other government-issued identification with a photograph, proof of the U.S. citizen’s U.S. citizenship, documentation that establishes the relationship between the U.S. citizen and the foreign national relative, and evidence of any name changes.

2. Fill out the form carefully. Make sure to read and follow all instructions, complete all sections, and sign and date the form in black ink.

3. Submit the form along with the required documents and fees to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facility or USCIS Service Center.

4. Wait for USCIS to send you a receipt notice confirming that your petition has been received. This receipt notice will provide instructions on how to check on the status of your petition online or by phone.

5. If your relative is abroad, provide a copy of the receipt notice to them so they can begin the visa process immediately after a decision is made on your petition.

6. You may be contacted by USCIS for an interview or for additional documents or evidence related to your petition. If this happens, make sure to respond promptly and follow all instructions given to you by USCIS.

What is the Form I-130 Fee?

The Form I-130 fee is $535. It is paid to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) when filing a petition for an alien relative. This fee is non-refundable, even if the petition is denied.

Can I Apply for Form I-130 Fee Waiver or Reduction?

Yes, you can apply for a fee waiver or reduction for Form I-130. The I-130 is an immigration form used to petition for family members to immigrate to the United States. To be eligible for a fee waiver or reduction, you must demonstrate that you are unable to pay the fee due to financial hardship. You must provide evidence of your hardship, such as a recent pay stub, a letter from your employer, or a bank statement. If approved, the fee waiver or reduction will allow you to submit the I-130 form at no cost or at a reduced cost.

What is the Form I-130 Processing Time?

The processing time for Form I-130 applications varies depending on the type of case, processing location, and the workload of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Generally, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years for USCIS to process an I-130 petition. However, the processing time can vary significantly, depending on the circumstances.

You can check the current processing times for your particular case on USCIS’s website. Additionally, if you have filed a case and it has been pending for longer than the estimated processing time, you can call USCIS’s customer service line to inquire about the status of your application.

Form I-130 Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the purpose of Form I-130?
Form I-130 is the form used by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for certain family members to immigrate to the United States.

2. Who can file Form I-130?
Form I-130 may be filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who is at least 18 years of age to petition for certain family members to immigrate to the United States.

3. What is the cost to file Form I-130?
The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535, plus an $85 biometrics fee where applicable.

4. How long does it take to process a Form I-130 petition?
It typically takes 8 – 12 months for a Form I-130 petition to be processed. However, processing times can vary depending on the USCIS field office that is handling your case.

5. Are there any special requirements for filing a Form I-130?
Yes, there are certain requirements that must be met in order to file a successful Form I-130 petition. These include proving the petitioner’s U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status, providing evidence of a family relationship, submitting evidence of financial support, and submitting all necessary documents and forms required by USCIS.