What are Forms I-130 and I-130A?
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the form used by a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident to petition for their relative who wants to immigrate to the United States. This form is the first step in a two-part immigration process for individuals looking to bring relatives into the United States. Unlike many immigration forms which are filed by an intending immigrant, this form is completed by the U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident for their relative themselves.
Form I-130A is another form that collects more required information if a spouse is petitioning the intending immigrant.
Since this Form(s) is just part of a more extensive process, submission and approval of this form alone does not confer any status, work authorization, or permanent residence in the United States. Instead, the Form’s approval confirms that you have a qualifying familial relationship that your relative can use to apply for permanent residence.
When to file Form I-130:
Regardless of whether the intending immigrant is inside or outside of the United States, the first step in beginning their journey to permanent residence is to have their family member file Form I-130.
After your I-130 is received, it will be reviewed. USCIS prioritizes the review of petitions from Immediate Relatives. USCIS does not limit the number of immigrant visas (green cards) granted annually to immediate relatives. Because of this, the processing time is faster for Immediate Relatives than other relatives. Congress permits a limited number of Family Preference visas per year. Therefore, people in this category often wait longer for a visa number to become available. Priority depends on when the I-130 was submitted. The wait time can range from 6 months to 6 or more years.
Filing for a relative living inside the United States: If the relative is considered an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen (spouses of citizens, unmarried children (under age 21) of citizens, and parents of citizens 21 years of age or older), they may be eligible to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the same time as the Form I-130.
Filing for a relative living outside the United States: If the intending immigrant lives outside the US, they will file just Form I-130. Then, following the I-130 Approval, Form DS-260 will be filed with the National Visa Center.
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