Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Eligibility

If you are a U.S. citizen or you have a Green Card (meaning you are a Lawful Permanent Resident) and you want your family to join you here, you can request immigrant visas for them by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This is also known as filing a petition.

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Once the petition is approved, your relative can get a visa that will allow him or her to  come here to apply for a Green Card.

If you are a U.S. citizen and the person you are filing for is legally classified as an immediate relative, he or she won’t have to wait to get a visa because there is no cap on the number of visas issued for immigrants in this category.

On the other hand, if you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, your relative will be included in the Family Preference Visa Categories. Because there is a limited number of visas available for the people in each group every year, he or she will have to wait until the appropriate visa is available based on the “priority” or petition filing date.

Related form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Who is Eligible?

Eligibility as a Petitioner

You can qualify as  a petitioner — the person who files Form I-130 with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of certain relatives if you are a United States citizen who is, or if you are a Lawful Permanent of the United States (if you have a Green Card).

To prove that you are a U.S. citizen, you must provide copies of the following documents with Form I-130:

  • Your official birth certificate showing that you were born in the United States
  • Your naturalization certificate or certificate of citizenship issued by USCIS or the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
  • Form FS-240, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), issued by a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate
  • Your unexpired U.S. passport
  • An original statement written by a U.S. consular officer confirming that you are a U.S. citizen and that you have a current passport.

If you do not have any of the above documents and you were born in the United States, you may also provide the secondary evidence listed in the Instructions For Form I-130.

To prove that you are a Lawful Permanent resident of the United States, you must submit a copy of the front and back of your Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551). If you haven’t received your card yet, you should provide copies of your passport page that contains your personal information and the page showing that you have been admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident, or other documents issued by USCIS or the former INS that confirm your status.

You must also submit documents showing that you have a valid relationship with the person for whom you are filing the petition. For details, see the Instructions for Form I-130 here.

Eligibility as a Beneficiary

There are two eligibility categories for beneficiaries — the people for whom U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents can file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. These are the Immediate Relative Category and the Family Preference Visa Categories. If you qualify as a beneficiary in the Immediate Relative Category, you can get an immigrant visa to come to the U.S. straight away. If you qualify as a beneficiary in the Family Preference Visa Categories, you must wait until an immigrant visa is available.

You will qualify as a beneficiary in the Immediate Relative Category if you are:

  • The spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • An unmarried child of a U.S. citizen and you are less than 21 years of age
  • The married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen regardless of your age
  • The brother or sister of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21years of age
  • The mother or father of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years of age

You will qualify as a beneficiary in the Family Preference Visa Categories if you are:

  • The spouse of a Lawful Permanent Resident
  • The unmarried child of a Lawful Permanent Resident and you are less than 21 years of age
  • The unmarried son or daughter of a Lawful Permanent Resident and you are  at least 21 years of age

You do not qualify as a beneficiary in any category if you are:

  • The grandparent of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • The grandchild of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • The niece or nephew of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • The cousin of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident
  • The mother-in-law or father-in-law of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident

For more information about other circumstances where you will be ineligible as a beneficiary, see the Instructions for Form I-130 here.

Effect of Trump Administration on Policies Family Immigration To the U.S.

As part of its crackdown on what it calls “chain migration,” or all family immigration other than that of spouses and minor children, the Trump Administration has all but stopped the processing of Form I-130 petitions for everyone — even spouses and children of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents.

In the 2017 fiscal year, USCIS processed slightly more than half (54 percent) of petitions made for Immediate Relatives, compared to nearly 70 percent in the previous fiscal year. In comparison, in the 2017 fiscal year, USCIS processed less than 10 percent of petitions made for people in Family Preference Visa categories, compared to 22 percent in the 2016 fiscal year.

By the end of the 2017 fiscal year, there were more than 820,000 pending petitions for beneficiaries in the Family Visa Preference Categories.

Basically what all of this means is that it will now take longer for everyone to get the visas needed to join their families here. Don’t hesitate to contact us If you have questions or concerns about Form I-130, eligibility, and how the Trump Administration’s policies affect you and your loved ones. Our knowledgeable immigration lawyers are here to help.

Do I have to file a separate petition for each eligible relative?

In most cases, yes.

I am the beneficiary. Do I have to submit anything with Form I-130?

If you are the spouse beneficiary (the husband or wife) of a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent resident, you must fill out form I-130A. You must sign it unless you are overseas. The petitioner must then submit it with Form I-130.

What is the cost of filing this petition?

The filing fee is $535

What if the petitioner’s or beneficiary’s name changed?

If either you  (the petitioner) or the beneficiary is using a name that is not the same name shown on the relevant documents, you must submit copies of any legal documents (such as a divorce decree, court order, marriage cerificate and so forth) that reflect the change with the petition.

Such a change in the schedule of interviews will make it possible to weed out those applicants who use groundless statements and try to use this process solely to obtain a work permit and will enable the USCIS to immediately identify such persons and begin the process of their deportation. In reality, the new Priority will allow the USCIS to make decisions on qualified asylum seekers more quickly and efficiently.

Once this petition is approved, is my relative automatically a lawful permanent resident, or can they come here immediately?

No. Approval of the application simply results in issuance of a visa that allows your relative to come here to pursue permanent residency.

Contact Attorney J.Greenberg ⚖️

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Your Attorney Compiles your Case, you Sign, and your Attorney Submits. Your attorney prepares all necessary USCIS forms and any supporting materials in their power. If there is supporting documentation that only you as the client have access to (ex: former employer letters), they will tell you exactly what you need to do and provide you with samples, so you can get the correct documentation. Once everything is ready, your attorney will compile your case into a professional legal petition, with a cover letter and a table of contents that will please USCIS and/or the other immigration authorities. They will check everything again, and send it to you to print and sign, via our secure online system. You will print and sign your completed case, and mail it to us in the envelope we provide. Your attorney will verify that you signed in the correct places, and they will send it off to the correct USCIS Dropbox, processing center, or other authority. It is possible that USCIS or other immigration authorities may request additional documentation/clarification regarding your petition. Your attorney will handle any such requests, communicating with you as required. Please visit our How our Legal Services Work page.*


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Becoming a US citizen entails specific rights, duties and following benefits: consular protection outside the United States; ability to sponsor relatives living abroad; ability to invest in US. real property without triggering additional taxes; transmitting US citizenship to children; protection from deportation and others. U.S. law permits multiple citizenship. A citizen of another country naturalized as a U.S. citizen may retain his previous citizenship

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