I-130 FAQ'sThese FAQ's are a general guideline and not specific requirements for any given case. Every case is unique and this does not address that uniqueness.
What is an I-130 petition??
An I-130 petition is an immediate relative petition that will allow immediate relatives of US citizens or permanent residents to immigrate into the US
Who may file an I-130 petition??
Any United States citizen or permanent resident may file an I-130 petition.
Who can a U.S citizen/permanent resident file an I-130 petition for?
A U.S citizen may file an I-130 petition for his/her spouse, parents, brothers/sisters, or children. A US permanent resident may file an I-130 petition for his/her spouse or children.
How many I-130 petitions may I file??
You may file one I-130 petition for each relative you intend to immigrate. This includes the children of immigrating relatives. You may sponsor as many relatives as you wish, as long as you can meet the I-864 financial requirements to do so.
Where can I find the I-130 petition??
You can find the I-130 petition at any local CIS office, or it may be downloaded here. (You should also obtain the 2 G-325a biographical sheets from here as well. You will need these to file your petition)
How long does the I-130 petition process take, and how long will it be until my relative can come to the U.S??
The time frame varies, mostly depending upon if you are a citizen, and who you are filing for. Spouses of US citizens will usually get their green card in 6-12 months, while spouses of permanent residents may have to wait years. For more information on processing times of I-130's go here.
I want to marry my fiance/fiancee who is here in the US on a visa, can I marry him/her here in the U.S, and if I do, will he/she be sent back to his/her home country until the I-130 is approved??
If your fiance/fiancee is currently in the U.S legally on any type of visa other than the J-1 visa (the J-1 requires a waiver), and you are a U.S citizen, then you CAN marry him/her, and he/she will NOT be sent back to his/her home country unless the marriage took place while the spouse was under deportation or if your fiance/fiancee came to the US on a tourist visa with the intent of immigration and marriage. (This is considered immigration fraud.)
However, you must immediately file your I-130 along with forms I-485 and I-765. If your fiance/fiancee DID come to the US on a tourist visa with the intent of immigration and marriage, and you are not yet married, then he/she should return to his/her home abroad, and the K-1 visa should be filed instead of the I-130 to avoid a denial or deportation.
If you are already married, and your spouse came to the US on a tourist visa with the intent of immigration and marriage, then he/she should return to his/her home abroad, and the I-130 should be filed with the relative outside of the U.S to avoid deportation or denial. (Better safe than sorry)
My fiance/fiancee came to the U.S on a tourist visa and we intended to get married and for him/her to return home afterwards and then immigrate from outside the US. Does this mean our petition will be denied, and is what we did illegal??
No. It is perfectly ok to marry in the US on a tourist visa as long as the intending immigrant returns to his/her home country to file the I-130, and does not try to adjust his/her status and remain in the US during the I-130 process, as that is illegal.
How much does the I-130 petition cost?
The form itself is free, and the fee can be found here.
May I file an I-130 petition while out of the country??
Yes. If you reside outside of the US, it may be possible for you to file the I-130 petition through the nearest American consulate or embassy. Often this is quicker than returning to the US and filing through the Service Centers. For more information on DCF please see this guide.
What is an affidavit of support...and do I need one??
The affidavit of support is a legally binding contract, that promises the US government that the intending immigrant will not be a financial burden, and will not collect welfare or public benefits until either he/she becomes a US citizen, dies, abandons permanent residency status, or can be contributed with 40 quarters of work. (roughly ten years) All immigrants immigrating via the I-130 petition must have an Affidavit of Support filed on behalf of them from the U.S citizen or permanent resident who filed the I-130 petition for them.
Do I file the I-134 Affidavit of Support, or the I-864 Affidavit of support for the I-130 petition??
You need to file the I-864 Affidavit Of Support.
On the Affidavit of Support Fact sheet, it says that I have to be residing in the U.S to sponsor my relative. Is there any exception to this rule?
Yes, but the exceptions do not apply to most people. You should probably check with the CIS to see if you are one of the exceptions, but for people who do not qualify for the exceptions, there is no time limit set for you to re-establish your US residency. Basically, simply going back to the United States, staying a couple of weeks, and opening up a bank account, leasing/buying an apartment or house, or getting a job re-establishes your residency in the U.S, making it possible to sponsor your relative.
How often is the I-130 petition denied??
Not very often, but nonetheless, it happens.
What are grounds for the CIS to deny an I-130 petition?? There are several grounds for which the CIS can deny your petition. Not being honest with them, or insufficient proof of citizenship, criminal record or US residency are the most common, however, as earlier said, a denial is rare.
What happens if I later discover that I forgot some of the forms needed to go with the I-130 petition...will I be denied??
No, in most cases the CIS office or service center that you filed with will send you a form requesting additional information.
What happens if my I-130 petition is denied?? Can I appeal??
Yes, you can appeal. If for some reason your I-130 petition is denied, then seeing an immigration lawyer is important. A good immigration lawyers can be found by visiting AILA.org.
So now that my petition has been approved, does that mean that my relative is a permanent resident??
No. An approval of an I-130 petition only means that your relative can file for an immigrant visa, or Adjustment of Status, and does not give your relative any rights until the CIS or a consulate officer interviews your relative and makes a decision on whether or not your relative can become a lawful permanent resident.
Does everyone filing the I-130 petition have to have an interview??
Yes. Everyone who files the I-130 and is approved, will eventually at some time or another have an interview with either a consulate officer or CIS officer before he/she can receive a green card.
Who needs to be present at the interview?? If your relative is outside if the US, then only the intending immigrant needs to be present. If your relative is inside the US, then BOTH of you have to be present for the interview.
If my relative is approved at the interview, will he/she receive his/her green card that day??
No. If your relative is in the US, he/she will receive a stamp in his/her passport until he/she receives the green card later by mail, and if your relative is outside the US, he/she will be issued an immigrant visa that will handed over to a customs officer at his/her port of entry, and will be issued a stamp in his/her passport until he/she receives the green card by mail.
My relative is outside of the US, and will be issued the immigrant visa, how long is an immigrant visa good for??
The immigrant visa is good for only 6 months, and your relative will have to immigrate to the U.S before the 6 month period is up, or he/she will lose his/her visa, and will have to start ALL over again!
OK, I heard somewhere about conditional permanent residency...what the heck is it, and does it apply to me??
Due to immigration fraud, the CIS gives ALL immigrants by marriage a conditional permanent residency green card unless the couple has been married for over 2 years at the time of interview. The conditional permanent residency green card is valid for only 2 years from issuance (the day your passport is stamped by customs or CIS), and the couple must file an I-751 form to remove conditions 90 days before the 2 years is up, or the immigrant will lose his/her green card For more information on Removal of Conditions go here.
What happens if a death or divorce occurs before the conditional status is removed?? Will the immigrant be automatically deported??
No. But you in this case must file additional paperwork and evidence.
I filed the I-130 petition for my spouse, and after he/she received his/her green card, I discovered that the marriage was for only immigration reasons. Am I still financially bound to him/her through the I-864, and can I get him/her deported??
Yes and no. If your spouse is still under conditional permanent residency status, then you may have a shot at getting out of the I-864 financial responsibility, and could possibly get him/her deported if you can prove to the CIS that the marriage on the immigrants part was for immigration purposes only and not for love as you had thought. (This is EXTREMELY hard to prove though) If your spouse does not have conditional status, then you are out of luck my friend. You are bound financially responsible until either your ex-spouse becomes a citizen, dies, abandons their permanent residence, or can be contributed to 40 quarters of work. (roughly 10 years!!)
I keep hearing about a K-3 visa for spouses of U.S citizens.. What is it, and can it help me??
To file for the K-3/K-4 visa you must already have pending I-130. This visa is non-immigrant, like the K-1, but is usually processed faster than the I-130. If you do have an I-130 pending, check out the K-3 guide here.
Do you have any tips on speeding up the process??
There are a lot of things that you can do to speed up the process, and to avoid any delays. I highly recommend that before you even attempt to file the I-130 petition and embark on the immigration process, that you make several copies of all legal documents (birth certificates, death certificates, etc) and that you have all of your U.S tax returns and information readily available (tax transcripts can be ordered here for free). Not having enough copies of legal documents and tax and medical records can slow the process down. It is better to have too many copies of these documents, than to not have enough! Also, RESEARCH, RESEARCH, RESEARCH!