Form I-130, officially called the Petition for Alien Relative, is used to establish that a real familial relationship exists between a U.S. citizen or green card holder and a family member seeking a green card of their own. Citizens can file on behalf of spouses, children, parents, and siblings, while green card holders can file petitions for their spouses and unmarried children. The following guide provides more information about how to file a petition for your relative and which versions of the firm you should use for your application. Be sure to speak to an experienced immigration attorney for information about how the I-130 visa can be used in your specific situation.
Immediate Relative Categories
There are several categories of I-130 visas, the first of which is for immediate relatives. People who fall in these categories have special priority and do not have to wait for a visa number to become available because there are an unlimited number of visas available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. The IR1 category applies to spouses, IR2 to unmarried children under age 21, IR3 to orphans adopted abroad, IR4 to orphans adopted within the U.S., and IR5 to parents of citizens who are at least 21. Family members who do not fall into this category may qualify under another one, though subsequent categories do not provide immediate visas if the application is approved.
Family Preference Categories
The family preference category applies to most other family relationships of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. People within this category may face a long wait for their green card, as a limited number are made available each year. This can take anywhere from six months to 20 years, depending on current demand for visas, so file as soon as possible and be prepared to wait until your turn for a visa number.
The different types of family preference visas are as follows:
- The F1 category is for unmarried children of U.S. citizens, who are 21 years or older.
- The F2A is for spouses, and their unmarried children (under 21) of permanent U.S. residents.
- The F2B is for unmarried children of permanent residents, over the age of 21.
- The F3 is for married children of U.S. citizens.
- The F4 visa is for brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.
Conditional Resident Categories
There are two conditional resident categories of the I-130 visa, both of which can be used to fast-track citizenship and green card applications. The first, CR-1, allows a spouse who has been married for less than two years to become a temporary resident and later convert their status to that of permanent resident within two years of moving.
The CR-2 category, meanwhile, is used for unmarried children under age 21 of a U.S. citizen. For this subcategory, the marriage to the biological parent must have taken place before the child turned 18 and less than two years prior to petitioning for the visa.
Ways to Use the Petition
The I-130 Petition can be used in three ways, depending on your situation. Note that for each of these situations, there is still only one I-130 form that can be filed. In the first situation, the petitioner and the beneficiary are both legally present in the U.S., with the beneficiary currently in the U.S. with a long-term, non-immigrant status. They can then use the petition to get in line for an immigrant visa and convert their status to that of permanent resident.
In the second potential scenario, the beneficiary is currently living outside the U.S. and can use the petition to be added to the list of people awaiting visas. They will then receive their visa number and use it to apply for a visa at their local U.S. consulate or embassy before immigrating to the U.S.
Finally, the petition can also be used if the sponsoring U.S. citizen has been living abroad continuously for at least six months with the beneficiary. In this case, they will complete a direct consular filing, which allows for the issuance of a visa while outside the U.S. This ensures that you will be eligible for the visa despite not currently living within the country to undergo the usual application process.
Getting Help with Your Petition
Speak to the immigration attorneys at Johnson and Masumi for more information about Form I-130 and how it relates to the immigration process. Johnson and Masumi’s experienced team of attorneys understands the intricacies of the immigration system and can assist you in selecting the correct petitions and applications, completing and submitting them, and preparing for visa interviews, if necessary. The firm offers free consultations to help you explain your situation and receive personalized support and guidance.