Family-based petitions allow U.S Citizens and lawful permanent residents to petition for immediate family members by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The petition is filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The Petition for Alien Relative (or Form I-130) solidifies a valid family relationship between a U.S. citizen or a green card holder and the intended immigrant. By filing Form I-130 with USCIS, you are taking the first step toward the family-based green card process.
It’s important to understand the differences between petitions filed by a U.S. citizen and a lawful permanent U.S resident. Here’s a look into both.
If you are a U.S. Citizen you may file for:
- Unmarried children under 21 years of age
- Unmarried sons or daughters 21 years or older
- Married sons or daughters
- Brothers or sister
If you are a lawful permanent U.S. resident, you may file for:
- Unmarried Child under 21 years of age
- Unmarried son or daughter 21 years of age or older.
Some eligibility exclusions prevent the filing of Form I-130 even when the above family relationships are in place. That is why it is always wise to consult with an experienced immigration attorney. They know the laws that are in place, what documentation is needed, who can file, and other extenuating circumstances that could affect your family’s immigration status. Some of these exclusions that prohibit filing for a relative include, but are not limited to:
- Adoptive parent or adopted child if the child was adopted after the child turned 16 years of age.
- A grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, aunt, cousin, or in-law.
- A spouse, if you married your spouse while he or she was part of any immigration court proceedings.
- A stepparent or stepchild, if the marriage that created the step relationship happened after the child turned 18 years of age.
- A spouse, if you became a green card holder through a prior marriage to a U.S. citizen or green card holder – UNLESS you are now a naturalized U.S. citizen or have been a green card holder for five years or more.
- Any immediate relative, if USCIS, determined that a marriage was not bona fide or entered in good faith.
To file Form I-130 you will need to provide supporting documents to prove that the petitioner is allowed to file the Form I-130 and that they have a valid family relationship with the person seeking a green card. Acceptable documents include:
- Proof that a legally valid relationship exists
- Proof that the sponsor is a U.S. citizen or green card holder.
- Proof that the relationship is not fraudulent
- Proof of nationality of the person requesting the green card.
The processing times vary by case. The length of time it takes to process your petition can be affected by the following:
- The family member you are petitioning for
- If the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
- The Service center the application is sent to by USCIS.
A petition filed by a U.S. citizen is usually processed quicker than a petition filed by a lawful permanent resident. After the I-130 is approved, the beneficiary can proceed with the next step in their process. This can vary from case to case. The petitioner’s status, beneficiary’s immigration history, and country of residence are taken into consideration when deciding the next step towards adjusting status in the United States.
If you would like to learn more about the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) call Virguez Law at 678-300-0000 and schedule a consultation with one of our immigration attorneys. Our attorneys have in-depth experience working on immigration cases and can provide you with the guidance and resources you need to ensure the process goes smoothly.