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I-130 Processing Time: What to Expect for Family-Based Visas

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If you’re helping a loved one immigrate to the United States, you may be asked to complete and submit an I-130 petition. An I-130 petition is also known as an “immigrant visa petition for an alien relative.” Understanding what you can expect in terms of timing and cost can help you plan your process accordingly.

Read on to learn more about:

  • What to expect in I-130 processing time
  • Know who can file an I-130 petition and the requirements
  • Why seek help from an immigration lawyer

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What is an I-130 Petition?

Source: USCIS

The I-130 is also known as the “Petition for Alien Relative.” It’s a form used by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPR) or green card holders to sponsor a relative for immigration to the United States. In other words, the I-130 petition is the first step in the family-based immigration process.

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS guidelines, they will only approve your petition if you can establish a relationship with your relative that qualifies them to immigrate. The person submitting the petition is known as the petitioner. As such, the person receiving it is called the beneficiary

How Long Does the I-130 Process Take?

The I-130 petition is an important step for many immigrants. But it also involves a long timeline that may confuse immediate relatives. While the necessary steps remain consistent, USCIS processing time can be impacted by these factors:

  • Staffing and workload at the service center
  • Quantity of applications received
  • Time of responding to an evidence request
  • Requests or petitions sent
  • Changes to the service center’s procedures and policies
  • The complexity of the individual case
  • Not asking help from immigration attorney
  • The applicant’s country of origin

To check your visa processing time, you can visit the U.S. Department of State for real-time updates. Or you can contact the USCIS Contact Center.

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The Process of Filing Form I-130

It’s important that you understand exactly what you need so that there won’t be any delays in processing it once submitted! 

Who Can File Form I-130

The USCIS allows two options for individuals to file Form I-130.

If you’re a U.S. citizen, you must file a separate I-130 for each relative, including:

  • spouse
  • unmarried children under 21 years old
  • unmarried daughters or sons 21 years of age or older
  • married daughters or sons of any age
  • sisters or brothers (you must be above 21 years old)
  • father or mother (you must be above 21 years old)

If you’re a green card holder or lawful permanent resident, you may file I-130 for your:

  • spouse
  • unmarried child under 21 years old
  • unmarried daughter or son is 21 years of age or older

It should be noted that the sponsoring relative must have sufficient funds. This is to prove that he or she can financially support their relative once they enter the United States. 

What Do You Need to Submit?  

In order to complete your petition, you need to give proof of your U.S. citizenship, U.S. national status, or lawful permanent residence. Several documents must be included in your application package, such as: 

  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of your naturalization or citizenship certificate
  • Copy of Form FS-240 or Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA)
  • Copy of your unexpired U.S. passport
  • Original statement from a U.S. consular officer with a valid passport
  • Front and back copy of your Permanent Resident Card (Green Card or a Form I-551)

If petitioning for a spouse, provide evidence of the bona fides of the marriage, such as:

  • Marriage certificate
  • Proof showing joint ownership of property
  • Lease showing joint tenancy
  • Having the same address on all shared documents
  • Proof of joint financial resources
  • Copies of birth certificates of your legitimate children
  • Affidavits from family and friends verifying your relationship status
  • Proof of legal name change
  • 2 passport-style photographs
  • Other evidence that establishes your marital relationship may also be acceptable depending upon individual circumstances.

Every case is unique, so it is always best to get an experienced immigration lawyer’s opinion if you have any additional questions.

Provide proof of family relationship with each of the following:

  • Spouse: Copy of your marriage certificate or proof of termination of any previous marriages.
  • Parent: Copy of your birth certificate.
  • Child: Copy of your child’s birth certificate.
  • Brother or Sister: Copy of the birth certificate of both you and your sibling.

Where to File

USCIS allows two options for individuals to file Form I-130:

  • Online, through the USCIS website;
  • By mail, by sending the completed form to the appropriate USCIS service center.

Knowing where to file your Form I-130 is based on both where you’re living and whether or not you’re submitting it with a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence. To make sure that you have up-to-date filing locations and procedures, be sure to check out USCIS’s website.

How to File Your Form I-130 Online

Filing your form I-130 online is a smooth and simple process. Here are the steps to begin with:

  1. Create a USCIS Online Account.
  2. Enter all your relevant personal information and any supplemental information about your immediate relative.
  3. Submit your Form I-130 online application along with any additional documents needed by the USCIS.
  4. After submitting Form I-130 online, USCIS will provide you with a receipt notice for your records and for your relatives to include when filing their Form I-485 packet.

Take note: You cannot file online if you’re applying for a fee waiver. Additionally, remember to sign your form, as USCIS will reject any unsigned form.

How Much is the Filing Fee?

There is a fee associated with filing Form I-130, which currently stands at $535. However, this fee can change depending on circumstances, such as changes made by USCIS. That’s why it’s important to check what the current fee is before submitting your application.

Pay your filing fee through:

  • money order
  • personal check
  • cashier’s check
  • pay by credit card using Form G-1450 or Authorization for Credit Card Transactions

USCIS recently issued an Alert to remind applicants that:

Source: USCIS Website

Additionally, there may be additional fees associated with forms, such as biometrics processing fees, among others. These fees must be paid upfront and cannot be waived or refunded, regardless of whether or not your application is approved or denied.

What Happens After Submitting Form I-130

Here’s what to expect after submitting the form. 

Receiving a Receipt Notice

The first thing that will happen after you submit your form is that you will receive a receipt notice (Form I-797). This form confirms that USCIS has received and accepted the petition. It also includes important information such as your case number and contact information for USCIS customer service.

The receipt notice does not mean that your petition has been approved but simply acknowledges it was accepted. Keep this document in a safe place, as you will need it in the future when checking on the status of your application.

Biometrics Appointment (if required) 

Once your application has been received, USCIS will send you a notice asking for biometric services. This is essentially an appointment where they take your photo, fingerprints, and other biographical information so they can perform background checks. You should receive notification via mail or email regarding this appointment if necessary.

Interview Process 

Depending on the circumstances, USCIS may require an interview with you and your family member. Interviews are usually conducted at a local field office which can be found on the USCIS website. During this interview, both parties will answer questions regarding their relationship and why they would like to become permanent residents of the U.S.

USCIS can sometimes approve your I-130 without an interview. If you’re a U.S. citizen and filing for parents or unmarried children under 21 in the U.S. who have filed Form I-485, then no interview might be needed.

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Tips to Speed Up Your I-130 Petition Process

If you’re looking to streamline your I-130 petition process, here are some tips that could help. 

  • Remember that each eligible relative must have their own Form I-130 submitted.
  • You must also provide Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary if you file a petition on your spouse’s behalf.
  • Ensure you have the necessary documents and required supporting documents requested by USCIS.
  • Make sure that all of your documents are translated into English.
  • Double-check everything before submitting it, as even small mistakes can cause delays in processing time.
  • Pay close attention to any deadlines associated with the I-130 petition process.
  • Keep track of when fees must be paid.
  • Stay up-to-date on any changes in getting immigrant visas.

USCIS also mentioned that you shouldn’t include the following:

Source: USCIS

Is an Immigration Lawyer Worth the Price?

When it comes to navigating through complex immigration laws and procedures, the answer is undeniably YES. An experienced and qualified lawyer is your best ally for ensuring a successful outcome in your case.

If you have more concerns about filing form I-130, Hacking Immigration Law, LLC is happy to help! Our team can provide invaluable guidance on all matters relating to immigration. From guidance on documentation, applications, appeals, and interview preparation - the list goes on!

With our assistance, navigating the immigration maze can become much easier than tackling it alone. Pursue the path of success– hire hacking law practice today!

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