What is Form I-130 used for?
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form used to establish the qualifying relationship between a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder) and a foreign national relative who seeks to immigrate to the United States. The purpose of this form is to initiate the process of bringing certain family members of U.S. citizens or green card holders to the U.S. as lawful permanent residents.
Form I-130 is used to petition for various categories of relatives, including:
Spouses of U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents: U.S. citizens and green card holders can file Form I-130 to sponsor their foreign national spouse for immigration to the U.S.
Children of U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents: U.S. citizens can file Form I-130 to sponsor their unmarried children under the age of 21 for immigration. Green card holders can also file I-130 to sponsor their unmarried children under 21, but there might be wait times due to visa category limits.
Parents of U.S. Citizens: U.S. citizens can file Form I-130 to sponsor their foreign national parents for immigration to the U.S.
Siblings of U.S. Citizens: U.S. citizens can file Form I-130 to sponsor their foreign national siblings for immigration to the U.S. This category falls under the Family Fourth Preference (F4) visa preference.
The purpose of Form I-130 is to establish the familial relationship between the petitioner (the U.S. citizen or green card holder) and the beneficiary (the foreign national relative). If USCIS approves the I-130 petition, it means that the qualifying relationship has been confirmed. After I-130 approval, the beneficiary might be able to proceed with the next steps in the immigration process, such as applying for a green card through Consular Processing (for beneficiaries abroad) or Adjustment of Status (for beneficiaries in the U.S.).
It’s important to note that while Form I-130 establishes the qualifying relationship, it is not the same as a visa application or green card application. The beneficiary will need to follow additional steps after I-130 approval to complete the immigration process and receive a visa or green card.
Always refer to the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that you have accurate and up-to-date information about the immigration process and required forms.
Cost to petition a relative using Form I-130
The cost to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, varies depending on the relationship between the petitioner (U.S. citizen or green card holder) and the beneficiary (the foreign national relative) and whether the petitioner is filing for one or multiple beneficiaries. Please note that USCIS fees can change over time, so it’s important to check the official USCIS website for the most up-to-date fee information.
Here’s a general overview of the filing fees for Form I-130:
- Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (Spouse, Parent, Child under 21): The filing fee for Form I-130 was around $560 per petition.
- Family Preference Categories (Siblings, Children over 21, Married Children of U.S. Citizens; Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents): The filing fee for Form I-130 was around $560 per petition.
- Multiple Beneficiaries: If you’re filing Form I-130 for multiple beneficiaries who qualify under the same category, you generally only need to pay one fee. For example, if you’re a U.S. citizen and you’re filing for both your spouse and your unmarried child under 21, you would only pay one filing fee.
Please be aware that USCIS may change the fees, forms, and processes, so it’s essential to visit the official USCIS website for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Additionally, USCIS occasionally offers fee waivers for certain categories, but eligibility criteria must be met.
When preparing to file Form I-130, ensure you’re using the most current version of the form and that you’ve reviewed the USCIS instructions thoroughly. Consulting with an immigration attorney can provide you with personalized guidance and ensure that you’re following the correct procedures and meeting all requirements.
Tips on reducing the cost of petitioning a relative using Form I-130
While some costs associated with petitioning a relative using Form I-130 are fixed, there are a few strategies you can consider to minimize expenses. Keep in mind that ensuring accuracy and complying with USCIS requirements should always be your priority. Here are some tips:
- Understand the Filing Fees: Familiarize yourself with the USCIS filing fees for Form I-130. Knowing the fees for your specific situation will help you budget accordingly.
- File for Multiple Beneficiaries: If you’re eligible to petition for multiple beneficiaries under the same category (e.g., filing for both a spouse and a child under 21), you’ll generally only need to pay one filing fee.
- Check for Fee Waivers: USCIS offers fee waivers for certain applicants who can demonstrate financial hardship. Review the USCIS guidelines and criteria for fee waivers to see if you qualify.
- Review Fee Exemptions: Certain categories of petitioners, such as U.S. military members or certain religious workers, may be eligible for fee exemptions. Verify whether any of these exemptions apply to your case.
- Choose the Right Category: Selecting the correct relationship category is crucial. Applying for the wrong category could lead to additional costs if you need to correct the mistake later.
- Prepare Accurate Documentation: Ensure that you provide complete and accurate information in your Form I-130 petition. Mistakes or omissions might lead to RFEs (Requests for Evidence), which can cause delays and additional costs.
- Utilize Online Resources: Access the USCIS website and other reputable online resources for guidance. This can help you understand the process, avoid common mistakes, and prevent unnecessary expenses.
- DIY vs. Legal Assistance: While you can prepare and submit Form I-130 on your own, enlisting the help of an immigration attorney can help prevent mistakes that might incur additional costs down the line.
- Avoid Expedited Services: USCIS offers premium processing for certain forms, but not for Form I-130. Be cautious of any third-party services offering expedited processing for this form, as these services might be scams or unnecessary.
- Plan Ahead: Start your petition process early to avoid potential expedited processing fees due to time constraints.
- Double-Check All Details: Mistakes can lead to rejections or the need for corrections, which might result in additional fees. Double-check all forms, documents, and information before submission.
- Review Updates: Keep up-to-date with USCIS announcements and changes to fees, forms, and processes. This will ensure that you have the latest information for your application.
Remember that while cost-saving measures are important, accuracy and compliance with USCIS requirements should remain your primary focus. If you’re unsure about any aspect of the process, seeking advice from an experienced immigration attorney can help you navigate the complexities and potential pitfalls.