The Form I-130 is used by foreign individuals who desire to immigrate to the U.S with the help of a family member. The petition must be filed by either a U.S. citizen, or a lawful, U.S permanent resident relative. Using the Form I-130, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident establishes the existence of a relationship to certain alien relative who wish to immigrate to the United States. For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, visas are always available, which means that your family member does not need to wait in line for a visa. Immediate relatives are defined as spouses of U.S. citizens, children (unmarried and under 21) of U.S. citizens, and parents of U.S. citizens.
There are four preference categories that apply to family members who are NOT immediate relatives. The visas allotted for these categories are subject to an annual numerical limit. A visa becomes available to a preference category based on the priority date (when the Form I-130 was filed). Preference categories are grouped as follows:
First preference: unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (adult means 21 years or older)
a. (2A): Spouses of green card holders, unmarried children of permanent residents
b. Second preference (2B): Unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents;
Third preference: Married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
Fourth preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens
A U.S. citizen can file a separate Form I-130 for each eligible relative. The U.S. citizen can file a Form I-130 for the citizen’s:
Husband or wife;
Unmarried children under age 21;
Unmarried son or daughter age 21 or older;
Married son or daughter of any age;
Brothers or sisters, but citizen must be 21 or older;
Mother or father, but citizen must be 21 or older
A lawful U.S. permanent resident may file the Form I-130 for:
Husband or wife;
Unmarried child under age 21;
Unmarried son or daughter age 21 or older.
**Please note that there is no visa category for married children of permanent residents. If an unmarried son or daughter of a permanent resident marries before the permanent resident becomes a U.S. citizen, any petition for that son or daughter will be automatically revoked.
The USCIS will require documentation that establishes the relationship between the petitioner and foreign relative. For instance, for husbands and wives, documentation including the marriage certificate, previous marriage documentation, passport photos, and evidence of the couple’s bona fide marriage (joint ownership, co-mingling financial resources, joint tenancy, affidavits, birth certificates of children, etc.). If a petition is based on a child’s relation to his or her parent, a birth certificate is required. Different documents are required for petitions based upon different familial relations.
Once all the evidentiary documentation has been collected, the Form I-130 can be filed along with such documentation to the USCIS. A filing fee made payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is required. Once the USCIS receives the Form I-130, it will check the form and documentation for completeness. If the USCIS requires more information or evidence, it may request that the petitioner and relative immigrant submit additional information or come to a USCIS office for an interview. Subsequently, the USCIS will make a decision on the Form I-130, which involves a determination of whether the applicant(s) have established eligibility for the requested benefit. The USCIS will provide notification of this decision.