I-130 Immediate Relative
“Immediate Relative” Immigrant Petition
A U.S. citizen may choose to petition for certain family members as immediate relatives under U.S. immigration laws. The biggest advantage of being classified as an immediate relative for U.S. immigration purposes is not being subject to preference categories and their accompanying priority date backlogs, since immigrant visas are always available under the immediate relative category. The ability to petition for family members under this immediate relative designation is another reason lawful permanent residents may consider applying for naturalization when and if they become eligible.
Familial Relationships Affording “Immediate Relative” Status
A U.S. Citizen petitioner may petition for the following relatives as Immediate Relatives:
§ Husband or Wife
§ Unmarried Child under age 21
§ Mother or Father
Filing a “Immediate Relative” Immigrant Petition
For a U.S. Citizen (USC) to petition for a family member, they must initiate a two-stage process for their family member(s): Stage 1 – I-130 Filing; Stage 2 – Adjustment of Status or Immigrant Visa Processing, (eligibility is dependent on various factors).
The first stage requires that the USC petitioner submit a comprehensive package to USCIS emphasizing the legitimacy of the familial relationship. The main form that the U.S. Citizen (Petitioner) must file for their foreign national family member (Beneficiary) is: Form I-130 – Petition for Alien Relative. The purpose of the form is to establish the legitimacy of the familial relationship. It is, therefore, imperative to submit evidence of the bona fides of the relationship such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of termination of previous marriages, etc. The submission should also include documentary evidence of the Petitioner’s status as a U.S. citizen. See 8 CFR §204.1(f); §204.1(g)
Depending on the U.S. citizen’s location, the form is either filed with USCIS in the U.S. or at an overseas location. If the U.S. citizen is a resident of the U.S. or is temporarily abroad, the form must be filed with the appropriate USCIS Service Center in the U.S. However, if the U.S. citizen is overseas, they may be able to file the form with either a USCIS International Office or a U.S. Consulate, as appropriate.
Note: In some cases, assuming the foreign national family member is eligible for Adjustment of Status, both the I-130 and the Adjustment of Status paperwork may be filed concurrently. In this scenario, the proper paperwork relating to the foreign national’s eligibility for Adjustment of Status should also be filed with USCIS at the same time.
After Filing a “Immediate Relative” Immigrant Petition
After all of the paperwork is filed, the Petitioner will receive a Receipt Notices within 2-3 weeks of filing. The Receipt Notice will assign the foreign national an Alien # (if they do not have one already. The Receipt Notice is also important for following up with USCIS in the future on this matter and checking the case status online.
Request for Evidence
If USCIS determines that the information/documentation submitted is inadequate to satisfy the petition requirements and further information is needed, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). The Request for Evidence will specifically state the documents/information they are seeking and a timeline under which they need to be submitted (all requested information should be submitted at the same time). Failing to respond to the RFE may result in the denial of the petition.
Depending on processing times, (assuming no RFE was issued), if the statutory requirements were met and the familial relationship established, USCIS should issue a favorable decision within 4 to 6 months.
After Approval of a “Immediate Relative” Immigrant Petition
After receiving the I-130 approval notice, the Petitioner and Beneficiary may proceed with the second stage of the green card process, if not previously filed concurrently.
If the Beneficiary is residing in the U.S., and meets certain statutory requirements, they may be able to apply for Adjustment of Status.
If the Beneficiary resides abroad, and meet certain statutory requirements, they may be able to pursue Immigrant Visa Processing (IVP).
8 CFR §204.1-§204.13; §204.2
USCIS Adjudicator’s Field Manual Ch. 21, Ch. 23
Revised by Nisha V. Fontaine, Esq. on January 2, 2012