Form I-130 is an immigration document used to prove a foreign national’s relationship with a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR). To learn more about Form I-130, including eligibility requirements and how to file the document, keep reading below.

What is Form I-130? 

Under United States immigration law, foreign nationals can obtain a family-based Green Card if they are related to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident (Green Card holder). Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) is a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) form that is used to prove a valid family relationship exists between a foreign national intending to immigrate to the United States and a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. 

Form I-130 must be completed and filed by the U.S. family member or Green Card holder (the petitioner or sponsor). The form is filed on behalf of their foreign national family member (the beneficiary).

It’s important to note that an approved Form I-130 is not a visa and does not allow a foreign national to enter and remain in the United States. Rather, this form is used to prove that a valid relationship exists between the petitioner and the beneficiary.

Additionally, this form establishes the beneficiary’s place in line for a Green Card. Only certain family members can be issued a Green Card immediately (spouses, parents and unmarried children under the age of 21). All other family members must wait for a Green Card to become available, which will be determined by their priority date (the date that the I-130 petition was received by USCIS). 

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Eligibility Requirements

U.S. citizens and valid Green Card holders can file Form I-130 on behalf of their family members:

  • Spouses
  • Unmarried and married children of any age
  • Brothers and sisters
  • Mothers and fathers

Lawful permanent residents of the United States can file Form I-130 for the following eligible relatives:

  • Spouses
  • Unmarried and married children of any age

Eligibility Exclusions

A U.S. citizen or Green Card holder may not file Form I-130 to sponsor the following relatives for a Green Card: 

  • Grandparents
  • Grandchildren
  • Nephews and nieces
  • Aunt and uncles
  • Cousins
  • Parent-in-laws 
  • Adoptive parents and adopted children if the child was adopted after his or her 16th birthday
  • Stepparents or stepchildren if the marriage that established the relationship took place after the child’s 18th birthday
  • Spouses, if both spouses were not physically present for the marriage ceremony
  • Spouses who are involved in immigration court proceedings for removal

Required documents

To establish the relationship between a sponsor and a beneficiary, Form I-130 must be filed with specific documents. The following documents serve as supporting evidence for Form I-130:

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, Green Card or U.S. national status, such as: 
  • A certified copy of a birth certificate
  • A copy of naturalization or citizenship certificate, issued by USCIS or the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
  • A copy of a valid U.S. passport
  • A copy of Form FS-240 (Consular Report of Birth Abroad) issued by a U.S. consulate or embassy
  • A copy of a Form I-551, a Permanent Resident Card or Green Card 
  • Evidence that a family relationship exists
  • For spouses, a copy of a valid marriage certificate and evidence that any prior marriages were terminated (if applicable) 
  • For children, a copy of the child’s birth certificate
  • For parents, a copy of the sponsor’s birth certificate
  • For siblings, a copy of the sponsor’s and the sibling’s birth certificate
  • If filing on behalf of a spouse, evidence that proves a marriage is authentic and legal, such as: 
  • Forms that prove joint property ownership (a deed to a house, for example)
  • A copy of a lease that proves both spouses reside at the same address
  • Financial documentation that proves resources have been combined
  • Birth certificates of children who were born to the spouses together
  • Sworn or affirmed affidavits from third parties that confirm the marriage is valid
  • If filing on behalf of an adopted child, evidence that the adoption is legal and valid, such as:
  • A final adoption decree
  • Evidence that the petitioner has had legal custody of the child for at least two years
  • Evidence that the petitioner and adopted child have lived at the same address for at least two years

How to Complete and File Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)

A copy of Form I-130 can be obtained by visiting the I-130 page of the USCIS website and downloading the form. You can also obtain a copy by calling the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 and request to have the form mailed to you. 

General instructions

  • Form I-130 must be completed fully and accurately.
  • All information must be printed or type written in black ink.
  • The petition must be properly signed. USCIS will only accept handwritten signatures; typed or stamped signatures are not considered valid.
  • The filing fee must be submitted with the petition.
  • Only provide original documents if they are requested. If copies are requested and original documents are provided, USCIS may destroy them. If original documents are requested, USCIS will return them to the mailing address provided by the petitioner.
  • If extra space is required for any section or part of Form I-130, it can be provided in Part 9, Additional Information. Alternatively, a separate piece of paper can be used. Include the name of the petitioner, Alien Number (if applicable), page number, part number and item number that the answer refers. Separate sheets of paper must be signed and dated.
  • If questions do not apply, type “not applicable” or “N/A.” If the question requires a numerical response, “none” should be printed (unless otherwise directed).
  • Dates should be entered in mm/dd/yyyy format; for example, January 4, 2000 should be entered as “01/04/2000”. 

Parts of Form I-130

  • Part 1. In this section, the petitioner must provide details that relate to the U.S. citizen or permanent resident and the intending immigrant (beneficiary).
  • Part 2. In this section, the sponsor must provide information that pertain to his or her citizenship or immigration status. 
  • Part 3. Here, the petitioner must provide biographic information about themselves, such as ethnicity, race, height, hair color and eye color. 
  • Part 4. Information about the beneficiary must be provided in this section.
  • Part 5. In this section, more information that detail the relationship between the sponsor and the beneficiary must be provided.
  • Part 6. In this section, the petitioner must sign and date Form I-130 and confirm that they understands the purpose of the petition and confirm that the information provided in the form is truthful and accurate. 
  • Part 7. If an interpreter assisted with the completion of this form, they must provide their qualifying information, confirm that the interpretation was accurate and valid and sign and date the form. 
  • Part 8. If someone completed the form on behalf of the petitioner (a preparer), they must complete this part of Form I-130.
  • Part 9. This part provides extra space for any additional information that pertains to other parts of Form I-130.

Where to File Form I-130

The completed Form I-130 must be sent to the appropriate address together with the required supporting evidence and the filing fee. To locate the right mailing address, the petitioner should refer to the USCIS chart.

What is the Filing Fee? 

The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535. Payments can be made using a check or money order, made out to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (initials such as USDHS or DHS will not be accepted). If biometrics are required, an $85 fee will be required and can be paid prior to the screening appointment. 

The takeaway

If you are a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder who is sponsoring a family member for a Green Card, Form I-130 is the first part of the Green Card process. The eligibility and ineligibility requirements for Form I-130 are intricate. For help determining who is eligible and ineligible or any other assistance, consider consulting an immigration attorney.

For more resources on how to navigate your new life in the U.S., visit Nova Credit’s resource library where you can learn about everything from renting an apartment to finding the best credit cards for noncitizens.

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