Form I-130, officially known as the “Petition for Alien Relative,” is a document used by United States citizens or lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to establish the qualifying relationship with a foreign national relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States. This form is one of the initial steps in the process of family-based immigration, allowing U.S. citizens and green card holders to sponsor certain eligible family members to become lawful permanent residents in the United States.
The primary purpose of Form I-130 is to prove the existence of a qualifying family relationship, such as that between a U.S. citizen and their spouse, child, parent, or sibling. The U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who is sponsoring the family member is referred to as the “petitioner.”
The specific eligibility criteria and supporting documentation requirements can vary depending on the type of relationship being claimed, and the form should be filed with the appropriate U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) service center.
Once USCIS approves Form I-130, the sponsored family member can move on to the next steps in the immigration process, including applying for an immigrant visa or adjustment of status, depending on their location and circumstances.
What to do after Form I-130 is approved?
Once Form I-130 is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the next steps in the immigration process can vary depending on the circumstances of the sponsored family member. Here are some common scenarios and the actions that should be taken after Form I-130 approval:
- Consular Processing for Family Members Outside the U.S.: If the sponsored family member is outside the United States, they will go through consular processing. This process typically involves the following steps:
a. National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: The approved Form I-130 is forwarded to the National Visa Center, which will contact the petitioner and the foreign national to collect necessary fees and supporting documentation.
b. Visa Application: The sponsored family member will complete the appropriate visa application, such as the DS-260 for immigrant visas, and submit it to the NVC.
c. Attend a Visa Interview: The sponsored family member will be scheduled for a visa interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country.
d. Medical Examination and Background Checks: The applicant will undergo a medical examination and be subject to security and background checks.
e. Visa Issuance: If the visa is approved, the sponsored family member can enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
- Adjustment of Status for Family Members Already in the U.S.: If the sponsored family member is already in the United States and eligible for adjustment of status, they can apply for their green card without leaving the country. The steps typically include:
a. Form I-485 Application: The sponsored family member should file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
b. Biometrics Appointment: USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment to collect fingerprints and photographs.
c. Attend an Interview: In some cases, an interview may be required with USCIS to assess the validity of the marriage or family relationship.
d. Receive a Green Card: If the adjustment of status application is approved, the sponsored family member will receive their green card in the mail.
- If the Petitioner Dies: In the unfortunate event that the petitioner (U.S. citizen or green card holder) dies after the Form I-130 is approved, the sponsored family member may still be able to continue the immigration process. This depends on the circumstances and the specific family relationship.
The specific requirements, fees, and processing times can vary based on the relationship, the family member’s location, and changes in immigration policies. It’s crucial to follow the instructions provided by USCIS and consult with an immigration attorney or legal expert to ensure that the process is completed correctly and efficiently. Additionally, regularly check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information and instructions related to your specific situation.