The Form I-130 or Petition for Alien Relative is what is used by an officially recognized citizen or permanent resident of the United States to prove there is a familial relationship with a relative that does not live in the United States but that would like to get a Green Card. It is an important step towards that person immigrating to the US. As important as it is, it doesn’t end there.
The First of Many
While a successfully approved Petition for Alien Relative is great news, it is just one form and one step of the whole process of immigrating to the US. Several different forms need to be filled out correctly and submitted to the USCIS, as well as some that need to often be filed with the Department of State too.
To be clear, on its own, a Form I-130 does not give the beneficiary permission to move to or stay in the country. It is, however, an important precursor to a green card application.
So, what happens next? The first thing you need to really understand is if you are the beneficiary of the Petition, what kind of qualifying relationship you have with your United States petitioner.
Not only is it good to understand this in a general sense, but it can also actually determine how long your wait time will be.
Obviously, this is established in the Petition. If your family relationship qualifies for the Immediate Relative category, it means that the US citizen petitioning on your behalf is:
- Your spouse
- Your parent (as long as you are unmarried and less than 21 years old)
- Your adoptive parent, if you are an orphan, adopted abroad
- Your soon-to-be adoptive parent, if you are an orphan, adopted abroad
- Your child (21 years old or older)
Whereas if you fall into the Family Preference category, it means your relationship with the petitioner is one of the following:
- You are the unmarried adult daughter or son of a US citizen
- You are the spouse or unmarried children (less than 21 years old) of a permanent resident
- You are the unmarried and adult daughter or son of a permanent resident
- You are the married daughter or son of a citizen
- You are the brother or sister of a US citizen (21 years or older)
Once the USCIS has approved the Form I-130, they will send the I-797 approval notice to your petitioner. What happens next depends on two crucial factors – if you are either in the Family Preference or Immediate Relative category and if you are living outside or inside the US. Learn more here.
For Immediate Relatives Living In the US
If you are categorized as an Immediate Relative living in the United States, with an approved Form I-130, you can apply for what is known as an Adjustment of Status. This means you are recognized officially as a permanent resident.
To qualify, you need to meet the three vital criteria:
- Be in the country
- Have an immediately available immigrant visa (the Form I-130)
- Have legal entry to the country
For Immediate Relatives Living Outside the Country
If you are categorized as being an Immediate Relative and don’t live in the US, after your petition has been approved, your file is sent by the USCIS to the NVC or National Visa Center, who will oversee transferring of your case and work with the US consulate of the country where you are currently residing, most commonly referred to as Consular Processing.
If you are categorized as having Family Preference, however, although you could go down the route of applying for Adjustment of Status, you are more likely to have success taking the Consular Processing route.
- Choosing an Agent – who will receive the information about your case
- Pay the fees – Affidavit of Support Fee and Immigrant Visa Application Fee
- Submit Your Immigrant Visa Application – the DS-260 is prepared and submitted to the DOS
- Send Documents to the NVC
After you have successfully paid the fees and submitted the applications and supporting documents, you will then have an interview at the embassy or consulate.