Bringing family members to live in the United States as immigrants can be challenging. If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you can petition certain relatives for a visa. But there are several requirements you must satisfy, such as financial requirements and evidence of a bona fide family relationship. Before you start a petition for your spouse, child or other qualifying relative, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork and funds ready.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Internet access
- Form I-130
- Form G-325a
- Passport photocopy
- Evidence of petitioner's qualification (e.g. U.S. birth certificate or passport, green card)
- Passport photos
- Evidence of relationship (e.g. marriage certificate, birth certificate, adoption decree, divorce certificate, letters, financial records, insurance, photos, etc.)
- Police clearance
- Supporting evidences (if necessary)
- Form DS-3032
- Form DS-230
- Form I-864
- Medical examination
- Immunisation record (if available)
- Appointment letter
- Filing fees
Download Form I-130 from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website. Read and follow the instructions. Provide information about yourself and your dependent family member. You must file a petition for your relative using this form. If you are petitioning your spouse, get Form G-325a as well.
Print out the form when you are finished. You can save a copy of the blank Form I-130, but you cannot save the data you enter into it. Check your answers several times. When you are sure everything is correct, sign the form.
Gather evidence of your relationship with your dependent. The requried proof depends on your relationship with the beneficiary. In general, you must show documents that prove the legal connection between you, the petitioner and your dependent, the benefiiciary. Examples include a marriage certificate, birth certificate and adoption decree.
Make several copies of your petition. Submit your Form I-130 petition, supporting documents and the filing fee to USCIS. Use the tracking number to make sure your package gets there.
Wait for the outcome of your petition. The USCIS will notify you of updates on your case. You will be notified when your petition is received, transferred to a different USCIS Service Center, approved or denied. If evidence is lacking, you will be sent a Request for Evidence or RFE. Send the required evidence within the time given you.
Get instructions for the visa application. If your petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for payment and processing. The NVC will contact you and your beneficiary and give you instructions. Your dependent relative must submit Forms DS-3032 and DS-230 to apply for his or her visa. As the petitioner, you must submit Form I-864 and show proof of adequate resources to support your relative in the U.S.
Complete the visa application. Your dependent will be scheduled for an interview at the U.S. embassy where his or her case will be adjudicated. Before the interview, have your relative complete a medical examination. Get the interview appointment letter and make sure your relative has all the required documents at hand for the interview. A consular officer will ask some questions to the beneficiary, review the evidence and decide whether to approve or deny the visa.
Get the green card. If your benefiicary is issued a visa, he or she will be given a "visa packet," which is a sealed envelope. Do not open the envelope under any circumstances. Upon his or her arrival in the U.S., have your relative turn the packet over to a Customs and Border Protection officer. If everything is in order, your relative will be allowed to enter the country as a green card holder. The green card and Social Security card (if he or she applied for one) will come in the mail some time afterward.
Tips and warnings
- A separate Form I-130 is required for each immigrating family member.
- In case of a legal name change, you may need to submit proof of the change if it affects your case.
- A visa case is processed once a "visa number" becomes available. Except for "immediate relatives" of U.S. citizens (spouse, unmarried children below 21 and parents if the petitioner is at least 21), all family members who are being petitioned must wait some time for a visa number. You can find out through the Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State.
- You can check the status of a petition at the USCIS website.
- Get an experienced immigration lawyer if you need help.
- Additional documents may be required.
- Read form instructions very carefully. Do not fill out, sign or submit a form without making sure everything is correct. Mistakes can cause delays in the processing of your petition or application.
- USCIS accepts photocopies. The NVC and U.S. embassies will want to see originals or certified copies. Do not submit any originals unless you have to. But be prepared to give them if asked.
- Not all relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents qualify for an immigrant visa. See the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information.
- Notify USCIS if you change addresses during the petition. Otherwise you might not receive important notices about your petition.
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