If your loved one is not a U.S. resident, you may be able to use a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative to help them gain permanent residency. Citizens and U.S. nationals as well as permanent residents can use this form to help family members gain green card status in the country. To learn more about our services and other family-based immigration processes, contact Nesbit Law Office today.
Starting the Family-Based Immigration Process
A Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative establishes the family relationship between a foreign citizen and a U.S. citizen, U.S. national, or permanent resident. This form is also necessary to obtain an immigrant visa for the foreign family member.
While this form will not get a green card for your relative, it can start the process. It will also reserve your relative’s place in line for a visa number. It could take between a few months up to several years to process the Form I-130. It’s best to start the process as soon as possible so your relative has a chance to immigrate when they get to the front of the line.
Mistakes on the Petition for Alien Relative
Even small mistakes on the Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative can lead to significant delays. The U.S. government may deny your petition outright, or they may request additional information. Either of these scenarios can cost you precious time when seeking a green card.
It’s often best to file a petition with the help of an attorney so you know you’ve done everything right. This can greatly reduce processing times and allow you the peace of mind to know your petition will be dealt with quickly.
Getting a Visa Number
As part of the process, your relative will be given a visa number when their Petition for Alien Relative is handled by the government. Depending on which type of visa they are awarded, they may be given a number quickly, or it could take years to get one. The wait time depends on the following:
- Your relationship to the alien relative
- Your status (either a citizen or permanent resident)
- The country of origin of the alien relative
In general, there is no waiting for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens; however, other family categories may have to wait. If you naturalize during the time your relatives are on the wait list for visas, then their status may also change and they may be able complete the immigration process sooner.
Petition for Alien Relative Processing Time
It can take a significant amount of time for your relative’s petition to process. The USCIS will initially mail you a notice of receipt of the Form I-130. Typically, it takes about two to three weeks to receive this notification in the mail. However, if your form was not properly filed, then the USCIS may request additional information. This can delay your request for weeks or months.
The notification that you receive from the USCIS will contain your 10-digit receipt number. This will allow you to check the status of your petition online. This can save you time in the long run and keep you from having to call the USCIS for updates.
Once the USCIS receives your petition, they will begin reviewing it. This should begin between two and four weeks after you file it. If your petition involved immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen, then the review process may be expedited. Immediate relatives are usually approved within five to 12 months after filing. Most other petitions can take between six months and six years after filing.
Estimated Wait Times Depend on Your Relative’s Category
Under U.S. immigration law, only a certain number of family preference green cards are issued each year. Annual quotas result in a wait list. Estimated wait times depend on which category your relative is in:
- No wait time and no numerical limit for immediate relatives, such as spouse, minor children, and parents of U.S. citizens.
- 1-2 year wait time for unmarried sons and daughters who are at least 21 years of age of U.S. citizens.
- 4 year wait list for spouses and minor children of lawful permanent residents.
- 6 year wait list for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
- 10-year wait list for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens.
These wait times vary and are only estimates. If your status changes during the process, then the wait time for your relative could change as well, if they are pushed into a new category.
Where to File a Petition for Alien Relative
You can file your Form I-130 at a Lockbox facility. If your relative is concurrently filing a Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust status, that might change your options. For a full list of Direct Filing Addresses, you should visit the USCIS website.
If you are a U.S. citizen and you live outside of the United States where the USCIS does not have a physical location, then you may file at a U.S. Embassy if there are exceptional circumstances.
Contact a Columbus OH Immigration Lawyer for Help
Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is a necessary form to get your alien relative a green card in the United States. For more information about family-based immigration call Nesbit Law Office today to speak to an experienced Columbus OH immigration lawyer.