If you plan to bring a family member to the United States through a family-based visa, the first step is to file an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. The I-130 is a necessary form that establishes the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, and it’s the basis for determining eligibility for a family-based visa. However, the processing time for an I-130 can vary significantly, depending on various factors. This article will look at the I-130 processing time, including what affects it and how to check its status.
What is Form I-130, and Why is it Important?
Suppose you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) who wants to help your family member immigrate to the United States. In that case, you must file Form i-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form is the first step in the family-based immigration process. In this article, we will explain what Form I-130 is, how to file it, how long it takes to process it, what happens after filing it, and how to speed up its processing time.
Form I-130 is used to establish a qualifying relationship between you (the petitioner) and your family member (the beneficiary) who wants to immigrate to the United States. By filing Form I-130, you reserve an immigrant visa (green card) for your relative. However, filing Form I-130 does not guarantee that your relative will get a green card. Depending on your relationship and your relative’s country of origin, there may be a long wait before a visa becomes available. Your relative will also need to meet other eligibility requirements and go through additional steps before receiving a green card.
You can file Form I-130 if you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). You can sponsor the following relatives:
- If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your spouse, children (unmarried and under 21 years old), sons and daughters (married and/or 21 years or older), parents (if you are 21 years or older), and siblings (if you are 21 years or older).
- If you are a lawful permanent resident, you can sponsor your spouse, children (unmarried and under 21 years old), and sons and daughters (unmarried and 21 years or older).
You cannot sponsor other relatives such as grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, or in-laws. You cannot support a friend or a fiancé(e) with Form I-130. For fiancé(e) visas, you must file Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e).
How to File Form i-130 in 2023?
Filing Form I-130 can be done online or by mail. However, some petitioners are required to file by mail only. These include:
- Petitioners who live outside the United States
- Petitioners who are filing for more than one beneficiary on the same petition
- Petitioners who are filing for a parent and their unmarried children under 21 years old on the same petition
- Petitioners who are filing for a married son or daughter over 21 years old and their spouse and/or children on the same petition
- Petitioners who are filing for a sibling and their spouse and/or children on the same petition
Who can file an i-130 petition, and who can be a beneficiary?
Any U.S. citizen or LPR with a qualifying family relationship with a non-U.S. citizen can file an I-130 petition. Qualifying relationships include spouses, parents, siblings, and children. The beneficiary of the petition must be a non-U.S. citizen who wishes to immigrate to the United States to live permanently with the petitioner.
To file Form I-130, you will need to provide the following documents and fees:
- A completed and signed Form I-130 (PDF, 689.95 KB) and Form I-130A (PDF, 553.96 KB) (if applicable)
- A copy of your proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence (such as birth certificate, naturalization certificate, passport, or green card)
- A copy of your proof of relationship with your relative (such as marriage certificate, birth certificate, adoption decree, etc.)
- A copy of any prior marriage termination documents for you and/or your relative (such as divorce decree, death certificate, etc.)
- Two passport-style photos of you and two passport-style photos of your relative
- A filing fee of $535 (you can pay by money order, personal check, cashier’s check or credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions)
You can find detailed instructions on how to fill out Form i-130 and Form i-130A on the USCIS website. You should also review the checklist for required initial evidence to ensure you have all the necessary documents.
Where to File
If you are filing online, you can submit Form I-130 through your USCIS online account. You must create an account if you don’t have one already. You must also upload scanned copies of your supporting documents and pay the filing fee online.
If you are filing by mail, you will need to send your Form I-130 package to the appropriate USCIS address. The address depends on where you live and whether you are filing with a lockbox facility or a service centre. You find the correct address on the USCIS website. You should also include a cover letter that lists all the documents in your package and explains your purpose for filing.
How Long Does It Take?
The processing time for an i-130 petition varies depending on various factors, such as USCIS workload, the completeness and accuracy of the petition, and the visa category and priority date. According to USCIS, the current average processing time for an I-130 petition is between 8 and 10 months. However, this is just an estimate, and processing times can vary significantly depending on the case.
The processing time for Form I-130 varies depending on several factors, such as:
- The immigration status of the petitioner (U.S. citizen or green card holder)
- The relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary (immediate relative or preference category)
- The service centre or lockbox facility where the petition is filed
- The country of origin of the beneficiary
- The availability of an immigrant visa number
As of 2022, the USCIS processing time for Form I-130 ranges between 5 months and ten years. You can check the current processing times for your form category and service centre on the USCIS website. You can also sign up for case status updates online or by phone.
However, filing Form I-130 is only the first step in the family-based immigration process. After your petition is approved, your relative will need to wait for a visa number to become available (unless they are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen) and then apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad or adjust their status to permanent resident within the U.S. (if they are already in the country legally). These steps may take additional time and require additional fees and documents.
How long does it take to process an i-130 petition?
The processing time for an I-130 petition varies depending on various factors, such as USCIS workload, the completeness and accuracy of the petition, and the visa category and priority date. According to USCIS, the current average processing time for an I-130 petition is between 8 and 10 months. However, this is just an estimate, and processing times can vary significantly depending on the case.
What factors can affect the processing time of an i-130 petition?
Several factors can affect the processing time of an I-130 petition, including:
USCIS receives a high volume of petitions and applications, which can result in longer processing times. The agency prioritizes cases based on various factors, such as the complexity of the case, the visa category, and the priority date.
Completeness and accuracy of the petition
Submitting an incomplete or inaccurate petition can lead to delays and even a denial of the application. It’s crucial to ensure that all required documents and evidence are included and that the information provided is correct.
Background checks and security clearances
As part of the I-130 petition process, USCIS conducts background checks and security clearances on both the petitioner and beneficiary. These checks can take additional time, especially if any issues or concerns need to be resolved.
Visa category and priority date
The visa category and priority date also significantly determine the processing time for an I-130 petition. The processing time can vary depending on the priority date and the availability of visas. The priority date is when the petition was filed and establishes the beneficiary’s place in line for a visa. Some categories, such as immediate relative visas, have no numerical limits and can be processed faster than other categories, such as family preference visas, which have annual numerical limits.
How can I check the status of my i-130 petition?
You can check the status of your I-130 petition online through the USCIS website. You will need your receipt number, which can be found on your receipt notice when you filed the petition. You can also call the USCIS Contact Center for assistance with checking the status of your petition.
What happens after the i-130 petition is approved?
If your I-130 petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. The NVC will collect additional information and documentation from the petitioner and beneficiary and schedule an interview with the beneficiary at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. Once the visa is issued, the beneficiary can travel to the United States to join the petitioner.
What are some common issues and delays in the I-130 process?
Several issues and delays can occur during the I-130 process, including:
- Request for Evidence (RFE): If USCIS needs more information or documentation to decide on the petition, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). The petitioner must provide the requested information within a specific timeframe, or the petition may be denied.
- Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID): If USCIS determines that the petition does not meet the eligibility requirements, they may issue a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID). The petitioner will be able to respond to the NOID and provide additional evidence to support the petition.
- Administrative processing: In some cases, further background checks or security clearances may be required, which can result in administrative processing and additional delays in the processing time.
How can I expedite my i-130 petition processing?
In some cases, USCIS allows for expedited processing of I-130 petitions. However, expedited processing is only available in certain situations, such as for humanitarian reasons or military members and their families. To request expedited processing, you must provide documentation to support your request and show that you meet the eligibility criteria.
Form I-130 is an important document that allows you to sponsor your eligible family members for a green card. However, it is a complex process. You must gather all
the required documents and evidence, pay the filing fee, and submit your petition to the correct USCIS address. You must also be patient and follow up on your case status regularly. Once your petition is approved, your relative will still need to complete the rest of the immigration process before they can join you in the U.S.
I hope this article has helped you understand how to file Form I-130 and what to expect after filing. If you have any questions or concerns, contact USCIS or consult an immigration attorney for more guidance.
Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about Form I-130 processing time:
How long does it take to process Form I-130?
The processing time for Form i-130 varies depending on the form category, the office processing your case, and other factors. For example, as of March 2023, the average processing time for Form i-130 filed by a U.S. citizen spouse for their spouse or child under 21 years old at the California Service Center is 7.5 to 10 months. You can check the current processing times on the USCIS website by selecting your form, form category, and office.
How can I check the status of my Form I-130?
You can check the status of your Form i-130 online using your receipt number on the USCIS Case Status Online page. You can also sign up for case updates by email or text message. Alternatively, you can call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 (TTY 800-767-1833) and provide your receipt number.
What are some reasons for delays in Form I-130 processing?
Some common reasons for delays in Form i-130 processing include the following:
- Missing or incomplete information on your form or supporting documents
- Request for additional evidence or data from USCIS
- Background checks or security screenings
- High volume of applications or workload issues at USCIS
- COVID-19 related impacts
How can I expedite my Form i-130 processing?
USCIS generally does not expedite Form i-130 processing unless there are urgent humanitarian reasons or severe financial loss to a person or business. You can request an expedited by contacting the USCIS Contact Center and providing evidence of your situation. However, there is no guarantee that your request will be approved.
What happens after my Form i-130 is approved?
After your Form i-130 is approved, you will receive a notice of approval from USCIS. Depending on whether your relative is inside or outside the United States, they may need to file additional forms and fees with either USCIS or the Department of State to apply for an immigrant visa (green card). You can find more information about this process on the USCIS website.