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Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers: What is the USCIS Form I-130?

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If you are a United States citizen or a resident alien, and you want to help immediate family in another country immigrate to the United States, you can expect to fill out a substantial amount of complex paperwork. The first step in the process is to fill out a form known as the USCIS Form I-130. Properly filling out this form is the first point on the path to getting your relative their official immigrant visa number. If you have multiple relatives who desire to immigrate, you must complete a separate USCIS I-130 form for each of them.

There are certain restrictions and rules on who may immigrate to the United States by way of a USCIS Form I-130. For instance, your second cousin will not be able to obtain a visa number by way of your filling out an I-130 for them, because they are too distant a relation.

Individuals who Qualify

The following relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents can apply for green card status and eventually for citizenship:

  • Spouses and children of United States citizens
  • Parents of a United States citizen that is over the age of 21
  • Siblings of United States citizens
  • Spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents

There are many rules and technicalities that govern the I-130 process, many of which depend on where both you and your relative currently reside. If your relative is already legally in the U.S., for example, on a temporary student visa or some other status, then your relative may be placed on the wait list for an “immigrant visa” if the I-130 form you have filled out is approved and depending on your relative’s (beneficiary’s) eligibility. Next, if applicable, they can fill out the USCIS I-485 form (Application for Adjustment of Status). Approval of the I-485 form results in your relative being granted permanent resident status. Many people do not know this, but the I-130 and the I-485 forms can sometimes be filled out and submitted simultaneously, shortening the duration of the process.  The possibility of such contemporaneous or simultaneous filing depends on the beneficiary’s relationship to the petitioner.

If your relative (the beneficiary) is currently living in another country, you must first fill out the I-130 form on its own (the I-485 cannot be filled out simultaneously). Once the I-130 is approved, if your relative is not deemed an immediate relative (immediate relative is a spouse, minor child or parents of a U.S. citizen petitioner), then your relative will be placed on the wait list for an immigrant visa number. Once your relative receives their visa number (i.e., their visa number is current), they can apply for an immigrant visa at a United States embassy or consulate in the country where they currently reside.  Upon approval by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the relative then enters as a Green Card holder or Legal Permanent Resident.

The waiting period for processing immigration paperwork can be lengthy, possibly taking around a year. This does not include the waiting time for visa numbers to become available, which can take extremely long depending on the visa classification (familial relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary) due to the high volume of requests.

Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. Help Relatives of Permanent Residents and United States Citizens  

If you have relatives who would like to become lawful residents of the United States, the respected Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin, P.C. can help. The immigration process can be lengthy and complicated. You need an experienced Philadelphia immigration lawyer in your corner to ensure that your paperwork is accurately completed so that there are no delays in processing time. If you are in need of representation, call our multilingual lawyers at 215-925-4435 or fill out our online contact form today.