Lesson 1, Topic 1
In Progress

USCIS Form I-130 Part 1 The Introduction

Joe September 22, 2020

With questions please contact us at: class_question@1stchoicealliance.com

With questions please contact us at: class_question@1stchoicealliance.com

The I-130 visa petition, or “Petition for Alien Relative,” is one of the most common forms processed by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It is used by officials to process family-based immigrant visa petitions. A U.S. citizen or permanent resident can use this form and file to establish a familial relationship with a non-U.S. citizen and indicate an intention to help that person immigrate to the United States. This is also known as “sponsorship”. In most cases, approval of Form I-130 by USCIS is a prerequisite to the immigrant then filing an application for a green card (lawful permanent residence).

What Documents Do I Really Need to Show?

This question is somewhat difficult to answer, as the types of family relationships and situations that satisfy the requirements for permanent resident sponsorship vary greatly. Here are a few key tips to keep in mind when putting together I-130 materials for your client.

Evidence of U.S. Immigration Status Qualifying You to Be a Petitioner

One of the most critical things you must show when filing an immigrant visa petition for your client’s relative is that your client is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. This can be more complicated than it sounds!  Because of changes made since September 11, the standards for proving citizenship/immigration status have become harder to meet.

If your client is a permanent resident sponsoring a relative, they can submit a clear photocopy of the front and back of their Form I-551 Permanent Resident Card to start, but any other documents they have showing their permanent residence are also helpful. Submit copies of your client’s current passport, along with their Form I-797 approval notice of your permanent residence or your immigrant visa stamp.

If your client is a U.S. citizen, the usual documents to show are a copy of their valid U.S. passport, a copy of their government-issued birth certificate, or a copy of their naturalization certificate. However, many U.S. citizens do not have a valid passport or even a birth certificate. Immigration officials will accept what is called “secondary evidence” in this situation. If this is the case then your client will need to contact the Department of Health in the U.S. state or territory where they were born and request a “Letter of No Record” (to show no birth certificate was created) along with early birth documents, such as a baptismal certificate, a hospital birth certificate, census records, early school records, family bible records, or sworn affidavits from persons having knowledge of your U.S. birth.

Above all else, your client should give U.S. immigration officials clear and credible evidence of their U.S. citizenship or permanent residence. If any confusion arises or you feel the client would benefit from an Attorney’s advice then contact 1st Choice Alliance to get into contact with an Attorney that can help your client. Remember, we never want to be providing legal advice to our clients. When in doubt, refer it out.

Evidence of Your Qualifying Relationship to the Would-Be Immigrant

Proving that your client has a qualifying relationship with the relative they are sponsoring is also extremely important. Overall, your client will want to show U.S. immigration officials clear, credible, and understandable evidence of their familial relationship. The sheer variety of different relationships that qualify under the law make it impossible to concretely list the documents you will need, but here are some key pointers.

Make a good paper trail. You want to give immigration officials an easy paper trail to follow so they can see that your client and their relative are indeed related. For example, if your client is sponsoring a brother or sister, you will want to submit copies of their birth certificate, and their relative’s birth certificate, and the marriage certificate of their parents. The combination of these materials can show immigration officials that your client and their relative have common birth parents, thus making them siblings.

Use official copies. All certificates you submit should be government-issued, certified copies if possible. The birth certificates should also be “long-form” in format. “Long-form” simply means that the certificates list not only the name of the person but also the full names of the person’s birth parents and the date and place of the birth.

Confirm whether your client’s country is recognized as being unable to provide adequate records. The U.S. government recognizes that many countries have incomplete or even nonexistent recordkeeping for families. The U.S. Department of State has guidance for specific countries in these situations.

Breakthrough language barriers. Assume that U.S. immigration officials cannot understand any language other than English. Any family documents you submit should be translated into English if they are in another language. If you need translation for documents then contact 1st Choice Alliance for assistance.

Is Form I-130 the Only Form I Need to File?

Not exactly. In fact, Form I-130 is really only one half of the process in securing permanent residence for a relative. Applying for permanent residence requires two main steps: 1) a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident files an immigrant visa petition, using Form I-130, on behalf of a relative who has one of the qualifying relationships to the petitioner under the law; and 2) if that I-130 petition is approved and a visa number has become available (there’s a wait in some categories), the qualifying relative (the “beneficiary”) applies for permanent residence either at a U.S. consulate or through a process called “Adjustment of Status” if they’re already in the U.S.

If your client or their relative seeks to apply for family-based permanent residence, bear in mind that Form I-130 is only the first step! Even if their I-130 petition is approved by immigration officials, that approval on its own does not confer permanent residence, nor any right to live or work in the United States. The approval does confirm that U.S. immigration recognizes that your client and their relative have one of the qualifying familial relationships necessary for family-based permanent resident sponsorship. This also means that you need to file separate I-130s for each qualifying relative your client intends to sponsor.

The processing time varies case by case and depends on how many applications are in front of yours, but has an average processing time of around 4 months.

The filing fee is $535