I-130 is a lifeline. More than 1.3 million people submitted Form I-130 to USCIS during the first quarter of 2023, allowing their loved ones to immigrate to the United States. Yet thousands of applications are rejected yearly. USCIS approves many applications after months of delays.
If you’re an American citizen looking to bring immediate relatives to the United States, you must be careful and attentive. I-130 asks dozens of questions about you and your family, and you must provide accurate information.
Once you understand the essentials and guidelines, you can complete the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative in no time. Here’s what you must know about this important form.
The Essentials of The I-130
Form I-130 allows you to petition for an immediate relative or a relative in a preference category to move to the United States and become a permanent resident (also known as a green card holder). U.S. citizens can file it for a spouse, parent, sibling, or child under the age of 21 or adult child. Lawful permanent residents can petition only for spouses, minor unmarried children under the age of 21, or single adult children. U.S. citizens can also file it for a step-parent, adoptive parent, step-sibling, or adopted child. However, neither U.S. citizens or Lawful Permanent Residents can file one for a spouse they have divorced.
To complete I-130, you must be an American citizen or a permanent resident. If you hold a visa, you should first apply for a green card and depending on the relative you want to petition, wait until you become a U.S. citizen.
If your loved one holds a temporary work visa and is already in the United States, they may receive a green card by completing Form I-485. There are many factors that influence whether your family member qualifies in this situation, including what their relationship is to you, if a green card in their category is available, if they have overstayed their visa and for how long, if they have prior immigration history, etc. You may still want to complete Form I-130 if your relative is considered an immediate relative as USCIS can speed up your loved one’s application once they receive both forms at the same time.
Instructions for I-130 Alien Petition for Relative
While completing Form I-130, you may notice the words “petitioner” and “beneficiary.” You are the petitioner filing the petition on your loved one’s behalf. Your loved one is the beneficiary.
When completing your form, you should give as many accurate details as possible. If you don’t know something, you should write N/A where prompted. Do not add information you’re unsure about, and never lie on a form.
You can fill out Form I-130 with the help of immigration lawyers in Bend, Oregon, and translators. You must supply their contact information at the end of the form. If your loved one has experienced immigration proceedings or been removed from the United States, you should contact an attorney before completing and submitting your petition.
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Part 1 of I-130 describes your relationship with the beneficiary. Each question in this part is straightforward, but select only one box for each one.
If you are petitioning for your spouse or sibling, you can leave Question 2 blank. If you are petitioning for your parent, spouse, or child, you can leave Question 3 blank.
Parts 2 and 3
Part 2 asks for your personal information. If you are an American citizen, you can leave Questions 1 and 2 blank, even if you once had an Alien Registration Number.
You do not have to include personal nicknames under Question 5 if you don’t want to. If you use another first or last name for work purposes, like a stage name or pen name, you should include that name in the provided section. If you have a hyphenated name and own documents without the hyphen, you should include the hyphenated and unhyphenated versions under Question 5.
Question 9 asks about your sex. You should put the sex shown on your birth certificate. However, if you are non-binary or gender non-conforming, you can add that to the attachment to the I-130 under this question.
Question 19 refers to the place you were married in. If you had an official at a government office perform the wedding and then had a ceremony elsewhere, you should enter the address for the government office here. You can attach documents to prove your marriage, like a marriage certificate if you want to corroborate the details you provide.
Questions 42-49 ask about your work history. If you are unemployed, you can write “unemployed” under Question 44 and then write the appropriate dates in Question 45. You can also write “disabled,” “self-employed,” “student,” and “stay-at-home parent.” If you are a student, give the address of your school. If you are disabled or self-employed, you can write that in the boxes.
Part 3 asks for biographic information about you, namely what you look like. You can use documents from your doctor’s office to determine your height, weight, eye color, and hair color. Keep these documents with you, as they corroborate other biographical details, like your mailing address.
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Part 4 is about the loved one you are applying for. Before you fill this section out, you should talk to your loved one and get as much information as possible about their life. Leave the section blank if you don’t know something or if a question does not apply to your loved one.
If you are applying for a spouse, you should supply your information in Questions 21 and 25. Marriage fraud is a major focus of USCIS, so make sure your answers are identical and accurate, as slight inconsistencies can lead to USCIS denying your petition. If you want to bring a fiancé to the United States to marry them, you should apply for a K-1 fiancé visa before submitting Form I-130.
If your loved one ever visited the United States, you should answer yes to Question 45. Even short visits count. Question 46.d refers to when your loved one’s right to remain in the United States legally ran out. You should look at their visa or other information to see when this occurred.
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Part 5 asks for additional information about you. If you have previously filed a petition for someone to live in the United States, you must answer yes and supply their information. If you are submitting petitions for multiple relatives, you should also give their details.
Part 6 asks for your signature and the signature of any interpreter you used to prepare your petition. You can give your interpreter’s contact information in Part 7; if you did not use an interpreter, you can leave the section blank or write N/A in the boxes. Part 8 asks for the information of a preparer, such as an immigration attorney, who may have helped you complete the document. You can also leave this section blank if you filled out the form by yourself.