Immigration Form I-130: What You Need to Know

A Petition for Alien Relative, or Form I-130, is a form from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) which allows petitioners to establish their relationship to an alien relative with the intention of the alien relative immigrating to the United States. As with the completion of other immigration forms, hiring an immigration attorney is not legally required, but can no doubt be a valuable asset to best ensure paperwork is drafted properly, accurately and in a manner that avoids delay. However, if there are potential inadmissibility or eligibility issues or questions about your relationship with your relative, obtaining the services of an immigration attorney is highly advisable.

When is Form I-130 Needed?

The completion of Form I-130 is the first step in getting a relative into the United States, often with a Green Card or visa. Form I-130 is to be completed by the US citizen or permanent resident, not the relative seeking to immigrate.

One Form I-130 will be needed for each eligible relative. Eligible family members for US citizens completing Form I-130 include:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children less than 21 years of age
  • Unmarried sons or daughters greater than 21 years of age
  • Married sons or daughters of any age
  • Brothers or sisters (as long as the US citizen completing Form I-130 is 21 years of age or older)
  • Mother or father (as long as the US citizen completing Form I-130 is 21 years of age or older)

Eligible family members for permanent residents (Green Card holders) completing Form I-130 include:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried child less than 21 years of age
  • Unmarried son or daughter greater than 21 years of age

In cases where the US citizen or permanent resident is completing Form I-130 for his or her spouse, the spouse who is a foreign national will also need to complete Form I-131A, Application for Travel Document (Carrier Documentation).

Description of Form I-130

Form I-130 consists of 12 pages. The following nine Parts make up Form I-130:

  • Part 1: The petitioner’s relationship to the relative (also known as the beneficiary).

  • Part 2: Detailed information about the petitioner, including family relationships.

  • Part 3: Biographical information about the petitioner.

  • Part 4: Detailed information about the beneficiary.

  • Part 5: Additional information about family relationships.

  • Part 6: The petitioner is asked to sign and certify the information provided is correct.

  • Part 7: If an interpreter was used to help complete Form I-130, they will sign and certify this section, as well as provide his or her contact information.

  • Part 8: If someone helped the petitioner complete Form I-130, they will sign and certify this section, as well as explain who they are and how they can be contacted.

  • Part 9: Depending on how the petitioner answered certain earlier questions on Form I-130, this is where additional information and explanations will go.

When to Hire an Attorney to Help Complete Form I-130

A petitioner will usually not need an attorney for completing many of the Parts from Form I-130. Many questions can probably be answered by a USCIS immigration official over the phone or in person. Despite this, having an attorney to help complete these “easier” sections can provide peace of mind and speed up completion of the form. There are also a few questions on Form I-130 where a certain answer will almost always require the assistance of an immigration lawyer.

The first potential issue is from question 41 in Part 2, where the petitioner is asked if he or she obtained a Green Card through marriage. If the answer is “yes,” the petitioner cannot petition for a new spouse who is a foreign national until five years have passed since the first marriage. Two exceptions to this rule are when the first spouse has died or the petitioning spouse can prove that the first marriage was real and not a sham. Knowing exactly what will be needed to prove the first marriage was not a sham can be helped by hiring an immigration attorney. Remember, the petitioner has the burden of proving his or her first marriage was legitimate and not entered into with the intention of obtaining immigration benefits.

Another reason to seek the services of an immigration attorney is to advise whether the petitioner should even try to petition for a new spouse until the five-year time requirement has passed. This is because if the petitioner is unable to convince immigration officials that the first marriage was real, the petitioner could get into trouble for allegedly entering into a sham marriage for immigration purposes.

The second issue is from questions 61 and 62 in Part 4. An immigration attorney will be helpful if the petitioner is not sure which method the beneficiary will use to obtain legal immigrant status in the United States. The immigration attorney will be able to help the petitioner determine the beneficiary’s eligibility for entering the United States.

The third issue deals with question 1 in Part 5. Answering “yes” is not a problem, unless the petitioner has a history of petitioning for multiple spouses. This will likely raise red flags with the USCIS since there will be suspicion that sham marriages are taking place.

Form I-130 Fees

The application fee for Form I-130 is $535 and it cannot be waived; there is no biometrics fee for Form I-130.

Call to Action/Endnote

The immigration process is far from an easy one to understand and simple to complete. While a form may only be a small piece of the immigration procedure, spending the time and dollars to do it right can save you and your family hardship and denial. Be smart about your future in the United States. Contact the immigration attorneys at Crotty Saland PC today.

Call the New York immigration lawyers and former New York City prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today.

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