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Form I-130 Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Tutorial for Petitioning Alien Relatives

How to Fill Out Form I-130

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is used by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) to establish the qualifying relationship with a foreign relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States. Here are the steps to fill out Form I-130:

  • Obtain the Form: You can download Form I-130 from the official website of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Make sure you are using the most current version of the form.
  • Read the Instructions: Before you start filling out the form, carefully read the instructions provided with Form I-130. The instructions provide important information about eligibility, supporting documents, and where to mail the completed form.
  • Gather Required Documents: You will need to provide supporting documentation to establish the qualifying relationship with the relative you are sponsoring. The specific documents required may vary depending on your relationship with the beneficiary. Common documents include:
    • Birth certificates
    • Marriage certificates (if applicable)
    • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residency
    • Passport-style photos for both you (the petitioner) and the beneficiary
    • A copy of the beneficiary’s passport
    • Evidence of any legal name changes
    • Any other documentation requested in the instructions
  • Complete the Form: Fill out the form accurately and completely. Use black ink and write legibly. If a question does not apply to your situation, write “N/A” (Not Applicable) in the space provided.
  • Pay the Filing Fee: Check the USCIS website for the current filing fee for Form I-130 and make sure to include the correct payment method (usually a check or money order made out to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security”). Include the fee along with your application.
  • Sign and Date: Both the petitioner (the U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and the preparer (if applicable) must sign and date the form. If someone helps you fill out the form, they should complete the “Preparer” section and sign it as well.
  • Mail the Form: Review the instructions to determine the appropriate mailing address based on your location. Be sure to mail your completed Form I-130 along with all required supporting documents and the filing fee to the correct address. Sending it to the wrong address could result in delays or rejection.
  • Receipt Notice: After USCIS receives your petition, they will send you a receipt notice (Form I-797C) to acknowledge that they have received your application.
  • USCIS Processing: USCIS will review your petition, including the supporting documents. If everything is in order, they will approve the petition. If further documentation or evidence is needed, they will request it.
  • Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status: Once the Form I-130 is approved, the beneficiary may proceed with consular processing if they are outside the United States or with adjustment of status if they are already in the United States. The specific process will depend on the beneficiary’s location and immigration status.

Remember to keep copies of all the documents you submit and to follow the instructions carefully to avoid any delays or complications in the immigration process. If you have any doubts or concerns, consider consulting with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for guidance.

What documents must be submitted with Form I-130?

When filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, you must submit supporting documents to establish the qualifying relationship between the petitioner (the U.S. citizen or permanent resident) and the beneficiary (the foreign relative seeking to immigrate to the United States). The specific documents required can vary depending on the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, but here are some common documents to include:

  • Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residency: Include a copy of your U.S. birth certificate, U.S. passport, Certificate of Naturalization, Certificate of Citizenship, or green card (Form I-551).
  • Birth Certificate: Submit a copy of the beneficiary’s birth certificate. If the document is not in English, you must also provide an English translation along with a certification from the translator that they are competent to translate and that the translation is accurate.
  • Marriage Certificate (if applicable): If you are sponsoring a spouse, provide a copy of the marriage certificate to prove the legal relationship.
  • Divorce or Death Certificates (if applicable): If either you or the beneficiary has been previously married, provide divorce decrees or death certificates to establish the termination of prior marriages.
  • Passport-Style Photos: Include passport-style photos of both you (the petitioner) and the beneficiary. The photos must meet USCIS specifications.
  • Proof of Any Legal Name Changes (if applicable): If either you or the beneficiary has changed names through marriage, court order, or for any other reason, provide documentation to prove the name change.
  • Proof of Bona Fide Relationship: Include evidence to demonstrate the bona fide nature of the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary. This can include:
    • Photos of the petitioner and beneficiary together.
    • Letters, emails, or other correspondence showing ongoing communication and relationship.
    • Evidence of joint financial responsibilities, such as joint bank accounts or shared bills.
    • Affidavits from friends and family who can attest to the legitimacy of the relationship.
  • Filing Fee: Include the required filing fee, which can change over time. Check the USCIS website or the Form I-130 instructions for the current fee amount and payment instructions.
  • Any Additional Documentation: Depending on the specific relationship and circumstances, USCIS may request additional evidence to establish the relationship’s authenticity. Be prepared to provide any requested documents promptly.

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