What is Form I-130?

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If you are considering petitioning your foreign national spouse or close relative for a green card your first step will be to file a Form I-130 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The I-130 form is required if your relative is in the U.S or abroad. 

Related: Do You Need an Attorney at Your Green Card Interview?

What is Form I-130? 

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form that is used to establish and prove that a valid family relationship exists between a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the foreign national intending to immigrate to the United States. As with all USCIS petitions, the person who submits the petition is called the “Petitioner” and the relative or applicant on whom the petition is made is called the “Beneficiary”.

Form I-130 can be used if you are a U.S. citizen or Lawful permanent resident (LPR) and you need to establish your relationship with an eligible relative who wishes to come to or remain in the United States permanently and get a Permanent Resident Card (also called a Green Card). 

Did you just get married? Learn more about how to get a green card for your spouse by clicking this link

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Who can you file Form I-130 for? 

The answer to this question depends on the Petitioner’s immigration status:

  • U.S. citizens can file Form I-130 on behalf of the following family members: 

Spouses, Unmarried and married children of any age, Parents and Siblings.

  • Lawful Permanent Residents can file Form I-130 for the following eligible relatives:

Spouses and Unmarried children

Who Cannot File Form I-130? 

You cannot file an I-130 in order to sponsor any of the following relatives:

  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Nephews and nieces
  • Aunt and uncles
  • Cousins
  • Parent-in-laws 
  • Adoptive parents and adopted children if the child were adopted after his or her 16th birthday
  • Stepparents or stepchildren if the marriage that established the relationship took place after the child’s 18th birthday
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What Are the Required Documents for Form I-130? 

To establish the relationship between a sponsor and a beneficiary, Form I-130 must be filed with specific documents. The following documents serve as supporting evidence for Form I-130:

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, Green Card or U.S. national status, such as: 
    • A certified copy of a birth certificate
    • A copy of naturalization or citizenship certificate, issued by USCIS or the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
    • A copy of a valid U.S. passport
    • A copy of Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy
    • A copy of a Form I-551, a Permanent Resident Card or Green Card 
  • Evidence that a family relationship exists
    • For spouses, a copy of a valid marriage certificate and evidence that any prior marriages were terminated (if applicable) 
    • For children, a copy of the child’s birth certificate
    • For parents, a copy of the sponsor’s birth certificate
    • For siblings, a copy of the sponsor’s and the sibling’s birth certificate
  • If filing on behalf of a spouse, evidence that proves marriage is authentic and legal, such as: 
    • Forms that prove joint property ownership (a deed to a house, for example)
    • A copy of a lease that proves both spouses reside at the same address
    • Financial documentation that proves resources have been combined
    • Birth certificates of children who were born to the spouses together
    • Sworn or affirmed affidavits from third parties that confirm the marriage is valid
  • If filing on behalf of an adopted child, evidence that the adoption is legal and valid, such as:
    • A final adoption decrees
    • Evidence that the petitioner has had legal custody of the child for at least two years
    • Evidence that the petitioner and adopted child have lived at the same address for at least two years

Related: Fiancé Visa vs. Marriage-Based Green Card: What’s The Difference?

What are the Parts in Form I-130? 

  • Part 1. In this section, the Petitioner must provide details that relate to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the intending immigrant (Beneficiary).
  • Part 2. In this section, the Petitioner must provide information that pertains to his or her citizenship or immigration status. 
  • Part 3. Here, the Petitioner must provide biographic information about themselves, such as ethnicity, race, height, hair color and eye color. 
  • Part 4. Information about the Beneficiary must be provided in this section.
  • Part 5. In this section, more information that details the relationship between the Petitioner and the Beneficiary must be provided.
  • Part 6. In this section, the Petitioner must sign and date Form I-130 and confirm that they understand the purpose of the petition and confirm that the information provided in the form is truthful and accurate. 
  • Part 7. If an interpreter assisted with the completion of this form, they must provide their qualifying information, confirm that the interpretation was accurate and valid and sign and date the form. 
  • Part 8. If someone completed the form on behalf of the Petitioner (a Preparer), they must complete this part of Form I-130.
  • Part 9. This part provides extra space for any additional information that pertains to other parts of Form I-130.

How to Complete the Form I-130? 

Here are some important tips on how to complete the I-130 form: 

  • Form I-130 must be completed fully and accurately.
  • All information must be printed or typewritten in black ink.
  • The petition must be properly signed. USCIS will only accept handwritten signatures; typed or stamped signatures are not considered valid.
  • The filing fee must be submitted with the petition.
  • Only provide original documents if they are requested. If copies are requested and original documents are provided, USCIS may destroy them. If original documents are requested, USCIS will return them to the mailing address provided by the petitioner.
  • If extra space is required for any section or part of Form I-130, it can be provided in Part 9, Additional Information. Alternatively, a separate piece of paper can be used. Include the name of the petitioner, Alien Number (if applicable), page number, part number and item number that the answer refers. Separate sheets of paper must be signed and dated.
  • If questions do not apply, type “not applicable” or “N/A.” If the question requires a numerical response, “none” should be printed (unless otherwise directed).
  • Dates should be entered in mm/dd/yyyy format; for example, January 4, 2000 should be entered as “01/04/2000”. 
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How Much Does It Cost to File Form I-130? 

As of the writing of this article (September 2020), the filing fee for Form I-130 is $535. You should always check the USCIS website to confirm that the filing fee is current. Remember- if you do not send in the exact amount required- your form will be rejected– even if you send a higher fee than required (USCIS will not send you change). 

Payments can be made using a check or money order, made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (initials such as USDHS or DHS will not be accepted). If biometrics are required, an $85 fee will be required and can be paid prior to the screening appointment. 

Where to Send the Form I-130? 

The completed Form I-130 must be sent to the appropriate address together with the required supporting evidence and the filing fee. To locate the right mailing address, the petitioner should refer to the USCIS chart

How Long Does the Form I-130 Process Take?

It is very hard to predict exactly how long it will take for your I-130 form to be processed or decided. Processing times vary and USCIS is often inconsistent with their processing (some cases approved in 6 months, while others can take up to 15 months). In general, the processing time for your I-130 petition will depend on the family relationship and the USCIS field office that receives your form. For marriage-based green cards, the USCIS I-130 processing times will vary between 7 and 15 months, depending on whether the sponsoring spouse is a U.S. citizen or green card holder and whether the spouse seeking a green card lives in the United States or abroad.

Related: The Length of the Citizen Application Process

Conclusion

If you are a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent resident who is sponsoring a family member for a Green Card, Form I-130 is the first part of the Green Card process, and where you should start. 

The eligibility and ineligibility requirements for Form I-130 are very detailed and that’s where we at Brudner law (https://brudnerlaw.com/) are here to help! We have a significant understanding of the documentation required for immigration applications and are committed to providing excellent service.  A good immigration lawyer on your side can put you in ease and make a substantial difference in the resolution of your case! 

Are you curious about how long after you get a green card can you apply for citizenship? Click here to learn more about how you can apply!