Form I-130 Made Easy: Your Complete Step-by-Step Tutorial

Form I-130, officially known as the “Petition for Alien Relative,” is filed by a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to establish the qualifying familial relationship with a foreign national relative who seeks to immigrate to the United States. The form is typically used to sponsor family members for immigration purposes.

The following individuals are generally eligible to file Form I-130:

  • U.S. Citizens:
    • U.S. citizens can file Form I-130 on behalf of their:
      • Spouse
      • Unmarried children under 21
      • Unmarried sons and daughters over 21
      • Married sons and daughters of any age
      • Brothers and sisters (if the U.S. citizen petitioner is at least 21 years old)
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders):
    • Lawful permanent residents can file Form I-130 on behalf of their:
      • Spouse
      • Unmarried children under 21

It’s important to note that the specific eligibility criteria and requirements may vary based on the familial relationship and the immigration category. The petitioner must provide evidence of the qualifying relationship and meet the necessary eligibility criteria.

How to fill out Form I-130 step-by-step?

Filling out Form I-130, the “Petition for Alien Relative,” involves several steps. Here is a general step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process. However, keep in mind that USCIS forms and procedures may change, so it’s essential to refer to the most recent instructions on the USCIS website and, if necessary, consult with an immigration attorney.

Detailed instructions on filling out the Form I-130 can be found here.

Step 1: Obtain the Latest Version of Form I-130:

Visit the official USCIS website to download the most recent version of Form I-130 and the corresponding instructions.

Step 2: Read the Instructions:

Before you begin filling out the form, carefully read the instructions provided with Form I-130. The instructions provide important information on eligibility, supporting documentation, and submission requirements.

Step 3: Gather Supporting Documents:

Collect the necessary supporting documents to establish the qualifying familial relationship. This may include proof of the petitioner’s status (U.S. citizen or green card holder), proof of the relationship (such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate), and any additional required evidence.

Step 4: Complete Form I-130:

Follow these general steps to complete the form:

  1. Part 1: Information About You (Petitioner): Provide your personal information, including your name, address, date of birth, and other relevant details.
  2. Part 2: Information About Your Beneficiary: Provide the beneficiary’s (the relative you are sponsoring) information, including their name, address, date of birth, and relationship to you.
  3. Part 3: Additional Information About You (Petitioner): Answer the questions related to your immigration history, criminal history, and other background information.
  4. Part 4: Information About Your Marriage (if applicable): Complete this section if you are petitioning for a spouse.
  5. Part 5: Information About Your Prior Marriages (if applicable): Complete this section if either you or the beneficiary have been previously married.
  6. Part 6: Information About Your Parents (if applicable): Provide information about your parents.
  7. Part 7: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature: Complete the contact information, review the declaration, and sign and date the form.

Step 5: Pay the Filing Fee:

Check the USCIS website or the form instructions for the current filing fee and payment instructions. Include the appropriate fee with your application.

Step 6: Mail the Form:

Mail the completed Form I-130, supporting documents, and the filing fee to the address specified in the instructions.

Step 7: Follow USCIS Updates:

Monitor the status of your petition on the USCIS website. USCIS may request additional information or schedule an interview.

Form I-130 checklist of required documents

The specific documents required for Form I-130, the “Petition for Alien Relative,” can vary depending on the relationship between the petitioner (U.S. citizen or green card holder) and the beneficiary (the foreign national relative). However, here is a general checklist of common documents that are often required:

  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative:
    • Complete and signed by the petitioner.
  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Residency:
    • For U.S. citizens: Copy of a birth certificate, passport, or certificate of naturalization.
    • For green card holders: Copy of the front and back of the green card.
  • Proof of Relationship:
    • Marriage certificate (for spouses).
    • Birth certificates (for children).
    • Marriage and birth certificates from previous marriages (if applicable).
  • Proof of Legal Name Change (if applicable):
    • If either the petitioner or beneficiary has changed their name, provide legal documentation of the change.
  • Passport-Style Photos:
    • Passport-style photos of the petitioner and beneficiary.
  • Proof of Eligibility and Legitimacy of the Relationship:
    • Affidavits from friends, family, or other individuals attesting to the bona fide nature of the relationship.
    • Photos of the petitioner and beneficiary together.
    • Documentation of joint financial accounts, joint property ownership, or joint liabilities (if applicable).
  • Filing Fee:
    • Check or money order for the appropriate filing fee. Check the USCIS website or the form instructions for the current fee.
  • Evidence of Termination of Previous Marriages (if applicable):
    • Divorce decrees, annulment certificates, or death certificates if either the petitioner or beneficiary has been previously married.
  • Translations:
    • If any documents are not in English, provide certified translations.
  • Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional):
    • Include this form if you want to receive electronic notification (email or text) that your application has been accepted.
  • Cover Letter (optional):
    • A cover letter summarizing the contents of your submission can help USCIS officers process your application efficiently.

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