When seeking a green card for an alien spouse or relative, the I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative is the first step. The term "I-130" refers to a specific form used to describe the relationship between the petitioner and the alien relative. Besides the I-130, other forms and certain documents may be required. Only when the petition is approved can the beneficiary go ahead with the actual immigrant visa application (or adjustment of status if they are already in the States).
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Documents Required for an I-130 Petition
How to File Form I-130
Things You'll Need
G-325a form (required for spouses, may not be required for other beneficiaries)
Photocopies of passport bio data
Proof of citizenship or lawful resident status of petitioner (birth certificate, passport, green card, naturalization)
Proof of relationship (such as marriage certificate, bank statements)
Proof of termination of previous marriages (if applicable)
2" x 2" ID photos
Translations (if applicable)
Table of contents
Photocopies of entire package
Decide on what legal names to use. Many applicants get confused about what name to use if the wife legally changes her name to her husband's in the middle of the visa process, whether she is the beneficiary or petitioner. Decide on this now and be consistent throughout the journey. Try to use the same name in your passport and your I-130 form.
Obtain the USCIS forms. Your beneficiary can get USCIS forms from the US embassy in his country. Check the date on the form as it may have an expiry date. Also, check with the USCIS web site for newer versions of these forms.
Get two US passport-style photos of each of you. The photos must be 2" x 2" with plain white background, showing the person in decent clothing. Write your names lightly with pencil on the back of each photo.
Get originals or certified copies of your marriage certificate, birth certificate or whatever proves your relationship with each other. If this is a spouse immigrant petition and either of you was married before, get proof of the termination of that marriage. You will also need proof of your US citizenship or legal permanent status if you are a green card holder.
Fill out the I-130 and G-325a forms. The I-130 form establishes your relationship with the beneficiary. Read the instructions carefully. Among other things, you will be asked if you have filed a visa petition before. It will also ask the beneficiary if she has ever been in the US and subject to deportation proceedings. Do not leave anything blank; enter "N/A" or "None" as the case may be.
The G-325a is a biographical data form. It is required for spouse petitions. Both petitioner and beneficiary must fill out four G-325a forms each.
Write a cover letter with table of contents. Make it a brief. All you have to say is you are filing for an I-130 immigrant petition so that you may be reunited with your partner in the US. You can also give a short story of how you two met. Attach a sheet that lists all the documents in the package. Staple it to the cover letter.
Make 2-3 copies of the whole I-130 package. One is for the USCIS, the other one or two are for the petitioner and beneficiary. With the exception of the photos and government forms (which must have your original signatures), you do not need to send originals or certified copies along with your I-130 petition. Hold on to them and make photocopies instead. You will need the originals later on.
Mail the I-130 package to the appropriate USCIS or U.S. embassy address. Refer to the I-130 instructions to find out where to send your package.
Wait for the first I-797 Notice of Action or NOA1. This is just a letter from the USCIS acknowledging receipt of your package. It will include a case identification number that you can use to follow up your petition. To do this, go to the USCIS web site and enter your case number. When it says "touched," it means your case is being handled.
Wait for the second I-797 Notice of Action or NOA2. The NOA2 is the notice of approval. If you get this, it means your visa petition has been approved by the USCIS. It can take several months for this notice to arrive. When it does, you are finished with the I-130 petition.
Tips & Warnings
If any of your documents are not in English, get translations.
USCIS currently does not require originals of any documents except the photographs and original signatures. Send photocopies.
Visa fees are NON-REFUNDABLE.
NEVER SEND AN ORIGINAL PASSPORT.
Some family members are considered immediate relatives (IR) and get their petitions processed faster. Others are in family preference categories and need to wait for visa numbers to be available. This can take many years. See the USCIS web site for family preference categories. Generally US citizens' relatives get higher priority than relatives of green card holders.
This article is NOT meant as legal advice. Please consult an immigration lawyer if you want to be sure of what to do.Tags: green card, I-130 form, I-130 Petition, USCIS site, birth certificate