How to file an Immigration Petition for a Family Member
If you want to petition for your relative to immigrate to the United States, you have to use the USCIS form I-130. This form is for aliens whose relatives are either citizens or lawful permanent residents of the US.
About the petition form I-130
The form is not usually filed by the prospective immigrant family member but by the relative (citizen or lawful permanent resident) that wants him/her to come to the US. The US citizen or lawful permanent resident that begins the process is referred to as the petitioner.
The purpose of the petition is to prove the relationship that exists between the petitioner and the foreign family member. So, if you want to petition for your parents, you have to include a copy of your birth certificate showing your parents’ names. You also have to include a US passport showing that you are a citizen (or a copy of your Green Card).
For immediate family members like your spouse and children, the process is relatively quick. For other family members in “preference” categories, the process is slowed down by the annual limits for visas in that category. This category of people might wait years after the approval of the I-130 before getting a visa. Some categories like brothers and sisters of US citizens usually wait about 20 years to get the visa.
Tips for filling and filing the I-130 form
You can easily download the I-130 form from the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov. Click the forms tab and select the I-130 form to begin the process.
To make sure your petition goes more smoothly, you can follow these tips while filling and filing the form to petition for your foreign relatives:
- Not all family members are eligible for petitions on their behalf by a US citizen or permanent resident. For US citizens, the family members eligible are parents, siblings, and children (whether married or unmarried). For lawful residents, only spouses and unmarried children are allowed.
- Send only copies of documents and not the originals because it is very likely you do not see the documents again.
- If you can’t get the document you need, you can use substitutes like school records or affidavits.
- If the document is not in English, it has to be accompanied by a complete word for word translation. You can have your friend do this for you, but they have to certify that the translation is accurate and complete. They would also have to sign their name at the bottom of the translation.
- You have to send your I-130 petition to the USCIS office called the Chicago Lockbox. You can’t send the application to any other USCIS office; the Chicago office would forward your petition to the appropriate office or consulate.
- Make sure you have copies of your application, visa documents, and check or money orders. They can come in handy if the USCIS loses your petition or claims you didn’t include a check.
When you should see an Attorney
If you are not sure that your intended family member is qualified, or you need guidance with the process, you should consult an attorney. You should also get in touch with an attorney if the intended immigrant is already in the United States. This is more important if they are here illegally as it can make the process difficult. At Virgüez & Associates, we have experience with complex situations like this.