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Mastering the I-130 for a smooth immigration journey

Mastering the I-130 for a smooth immigration journey

Navigating your immigration journey from India to the United States can be a difficult and confusing process.

However, by mastering the I-130 form, aspiring immigrants can streamline their entrance into the country while simultaneously reducing potential delays.

Here’s how.

What is Form I-130?

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-130 is a petition for Alien Relative that a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can file to start the process of bringing certain family members to the U.S. as immigrants.

Put simply, Form I-130 lets US citizens or permanent residents bring family members to the US.

What do you use Form I-130 for?

The form serves as proof that the petitioner has an established relationship with someone they intend to sponsor, such as your:

  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Sibling
  • Parent

The form also contains information about both parties involved in the petition, along with other important details including financial resources and any existing immigration issues for either party.

Who can use Form I-130?

USCIS only allows sponsors who are citizens or lawful permanent residents to file this form, and applicants must meet all requirements before their petition can be approved by USCIS.

Once it is approved, the beneficiary will be able to take further steps toward obtaining permanent residence status in the United States through adjustment of status or consular processing.

Adjustment of status takes place within the US, while consular processing takes place abroad.

Step-by-step instructions to complete Form I-130

Form I-130 might seem intimidating, but don’t worry — the application process is quite straightforward.

All you need to do is:

  1. Gather documents
  2. Complete petitioner and beneficiary information
  3. Submit the application

Let’s dive in.

1. Gathering necessary documents for Form I-130

When filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, it is important to gather all the necessary documents in order to ensure a successful submission.

This form is required if you are looking to bring a family member into the United States from India.

Documents that may be requested include:

  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Military discharge papers
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent residence status
  • Other identity and financial documents such as passports and tax returns

Having trouble getting your Indian documents approved by USCIS? Let us help.

It is also important to provide any evidence of a relationship between you and the relative you are petitioning for such as photographs or letters.

Having all the necessary documents on hand will help make the process go much smoother.

2. Filling in information about the petitioner and beneficiary

When filling out Form I-130, be sure to provide accurate and complete information about both the petitioner and the beneficiary.

Personal information

The petitioner is the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident who wants to sponsor a family member for a green card, while the beneficiary is the family member who will receive the green card.

The petitioner is the US citizen or permanent resident. The beneficiary is the relative intending to immigrate.

On Form I-130, the petitioner must provide their name, address, phone number, date of birth, place of birth, immigration status (if applicable), and other biographical information.

The beneficiary’s information should also be included on Form I-130. This includes their full name, date of birth, place of birth, current address (if applicable), and other basic biographical information.

Relationship information

In addition to this personal information, the petitioner must include details about their relationship with the beneficiary.

For immediate relatives of U.S citizens – such as spouses, parents, children under 21 years old – this is as simple as listing them in Section D of Part 2 on Form I-130.

For all other relationships listed in Section D Part 2 of Form I-130 – such as siblings or adult married children – additional documents showing the evidence of the relationship must be included.

3. Submit a finished Form I-130

Applicants need to make sure that their application is complete and accurate before submitting it, as any mistakes can cause delays or even lead to rejection.

The best way to ensure that your application is complete and submitted correctly is to double-check all information provided on the form, sign all documents if necessary, and submit the form with all required supporting documentation.

Once you’ve submitted the form and filing fee, you should receive a letter from USCIS confirming receipt of the application. You can then monitor the status of your application online and contact USCIS if needed.

Tips for submitting your Form I-130 successfully

Immigration applications are all about the details. Take advantage of these tips to ensure a successful outcome:

  1. Collect documents and evidence well in advance
  2. Double-check your application for errors
  3. Pay all fees in full
  4. Track your case

1. Gather all the necessary documentation in advance

This includes providing proof of the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary (e.g., marriage certificate and birth certificates).

It is also important to ensure that any information regarding criminal records, medical disabilities, or prior immigration petitions have accurate and current documentation.

The sooner you collect your documents, the less stress you’ll have.

2. Check your application for errors

Make sure to fill out all sections of the form accurately with only current and accurate information as this is vital in successfully submitting a Form I-130 application.

Provide detailed information when asked, such as listing specific addresses, names, dates, etc., instead of relying on general answers or approximations.

Errors and omissions could lead to lengthy delays — or even denial of your application.

3. Ensure that all necessary fees are paid in full.

Fees can be paid online or by mail and should include both the filing fee and any additional fees associated with submitting biometrics or additional forms that may be required during the process.

4. Track your case

Once an application has been submitted it is important to keep track of its progress through the system by regularly checking on its status either online or by calling designated customer service lines provided by USCIS (U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services).

Doing this allows applicants to receive updates regarding their case more quickly if there are any delays in processing time or if additional information is needed.

Hire an immigration lawyer for fast, error-free Form I-130 applications

Errors on your application can set your immigration journey back dramatically.

Don’t risk it. Get professional assistance with your American Dream.

Dalal & Mehta has a track record of successful applications for Indian immigrants. Let us make sure your application is flawless, and you can focus on immigrating.

Contact us today, and let’s get started.

Form I-130 frequently asked questions

Learn everything you ever wanted to know about Form I-130.

1. How do I know if I am eligible to sponsor an immigrant?

In order to be eligible to sponsor an immigrant, you must meet certain criteria as established by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Eligibility is based on your relationship to the immigrant you are petitioning for, as well as other factors such as income and financial resources.

2. What is the difference between a citizen and a non-citizen sponsor?

A citizen sponsor is a U.S. citizen who petitions for a family member to immigrate to the United States, while a non-citizen sponsor is a legal permanent resident (green card holder) who petitions for a family member to immigrate.

3. How do I file an I-130 petition?

You can file an I-130 petition online or by mail. You must provide evidence of the relationship between you and the beneficiary, along with any other necessary documents and forms.

Once filed, you will receive a confirmation letter from USCIS confirming receipt of your application and tracking number.

4. How do I fill out the I-130 form?

The I-130 form is available online and can be filled out electronically or printed out for completion by hand. You must provide accurate information about your relationship to the beneficiary, their place of residence and any other relevant details.

All forms must be signed and dated by both the petitioner and the beneficiary before submission.

5. What supporting documents do I need to file with my I-130 petition?

Along with the I-130 form, you must include evidence of your relationship to the beneficiary, such as a marriage certificate or birth certificate.

Other proof of relationships can include pictures, shared bills, or shared travel itineraries.

You may also need to provide additional forms and supporting documents, depending on your individual circumstances. These could include proof of income, financial resources and other documents related to eligibility.

6. How long does it take to process an I-130 petition?

Processing times for I-130 petitions vary depending on the type of petition, current workload at USCIS and other factors.

Generally, it can take up to a year or more for a decision to be made on an application. You can check the status of your application online or by calling customer service lines provided by USCIS.

7. How much does it cost to file an I-130 petition?

The filing fee as of February 2023 for an I-130 petition is currently $535. This amount must be paid in full when submitting an application, and any additional fees associated with biometrics or supplementary forms should also be included at the time of filing.

Note that USCIS regularly increases fees. Be sure to ask your immigration attorney for current filing costs.

8. Where do I file my I-130 petition?

The I-130 form can be filed online or by mail to the appropriate processing center, as designated by USCIS. The address and other contact information can be found on the USCIS website.

9. What happens after I file my I-130 petition?

The petition will then be reviewed by an immigration officer who may contact the petitioner and request additional supporting evidence.

Once the review is complete, a decision will be made and either approved or denied.

10. Can I check the status of my I-130 petition online?

Yes, you can check the status of your I-130 petition online using your tracking number. This information is updated regularly so you can stay informed about the progress of your application.

Additionally, you can contact customer service lines provided by USCIS for more information regarding your petition status.

11. Who is considered an immediate relative for the purpose of Form I-130?

An immediate relative for the purpose of Form I-130 is defined as a spouse, parent or unmarried child under the age of 21. This also includes adopted children who are under the age of 16 at the time of filing.

12. What if I need to make changes to my Form I-130?

If you need to make changes or provide additional information after submitting your Form I-130, then you must contact USCIS immediately.

You may be required to submit an amended form or additional documents in order for your application to be processed. USCIS will provide instructions on how to proceed with the changes.

13. What is the difference between Form I-130 and Form I-485?

Form I-130 is used to petition for an individual to immigrate. Form I-485 is used by the beneficiary of the I-130 petition to apply for a green card once their application has been approved.

14. Can I expedite processing for Form I-130?

In some cases, USCIS may be able to expedite the processing of a Form I-130 petition. This is usually done in cases where immediate family members are seeking to immigrate or if there are other special circumstances.

For example, couples living abroad may be able to take advantage of Direct Consular Filing in specific scenarios.

15. Is legal assistance necessary for filing an I-130 petition?

No, legal assistance is not necessarily required for filing an I-130 petition. However, it can be beneficial to ensure that the application is properly filled out and all necessary documents are included.

Additionally, an attorney may be able to provide guidance throughout the process and help with any legal issues that might arise.

16. What happens after my Form I-130 is approved?

Once Form I-130 is approved, the beneficiary can then proceed to apply for a permanent resident card (also known as a green card).

This involves submitting additional paperwork and undergoing an interview process. After this has been completed, the applicant will be able to live and work in the United States legally.

17. What happens if my Form I-130 is denied?

If your Form I-130 is denied, it may be possible to appeal this decision. You will need to contact USCIS and submit the necessary paperwork to begin the appeals process.

It is important to note that appeals can take a significant amount of time and may not necessarily result in approval. In some cases, if there is a change in circumstances, it may be possible to refile the petition. It is best to consult an attorney for guidance on how to proceed.

18. Will I need an interview for my I-130?

An interview is not always required for the I-130 application. However, if requested by USCIS you will be expected to attend an interview in order to provide additional information and supporting documents.

While many applicants will attend an interview for adjustment of status or consular processing, this may vary based on the field office or consulate you are applying with.

19. Will my relative be able to work after Form I-130 is filed?

No, your relative will not be able to work in the United States until they are granted a green card. This process can take several months, so it is important to plan ahead and have any necessary documents ready before filing the I-130 petition.

20. Can I file I-130 and I-485 together?

Yes, this is called concurrent filing. This means that if you have a qualified immediate relative, you can file both the I-130 petition and the I-485 application for adjustment of status at the same time.

This will allow your relative to begin the process of obtaining a green card more quickly. However, it is important to note that concurrent filing does not guarantee approval; each form will still be assessed separately.

Additionally, any additional documents or evidence that may be required to complete the process must also be submitted.

21. Will my relative be able to travel on an I-130?

No, a Form I-130 petition does not provide any travel privileges. The beneficiary of the I-130 petition will need to wait for the petition to be approved, followed by the approval of their adjustment of status or consular processing application before they can travel.

Until then, they may travel to the US on a tourist visa. However, they must be able to convince USCIS that they will leave the US before their tourist visa expires.

22. Will Form I-130 still be approved if either myself or my relative has a criminal record?

In general, a criminal record will not automatically disqualify someone from filing an I-130 petition. However, it may be more difficult to obtain approval if either you or your relative has a serious criminal record.

In this case, you should consult with an attorney before filing the I-130 and try to provide as much documentation as possible regarding any progress in rehabilitation. Additionally, depending on the type of crime, a waiver may be available to help with the approval of the petition.

23. Is Form I-130 the same as consular processing or adjustment of status?

No, Form I-130 is not the same as consular processing or adjustment of status. The I-130 petition is the first step in the process and must be approved before either of these can take place.

Consular processing is when an applicant applies for a green card from outside of the US through their home country’s consulate. Adjustment of status is when an applicant applies for a green card from inside the US.

Once the I-130 petition is approved, the beneficiary can then choose to pursue either consular processing or adjustment of status.

You should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine which option is best for your individual situation.

Before completing Form I-130 (or any other form), Indians MUST know this about the US immigration system…

Read more

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Want to minimize your risk of mistakes on Form I-130 and immigrate ASAP?

Do you have a tough case that other law firms don’t want to handle?

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