When you want to bring a family member to the United States, submitting an I-130, or the Petition for Alien Relative, is part of the initial process. Once you’ve filed this form, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) examines it along with other supporting documents. Its approval means that the agency recognizes your familial relationship with your beneficiary.
However, this approval doesn’t mean your family member can pack their bags and move right in. Understanding what comes after the I-130 submission is important because it sets the stage for what’s next in your immigration journey.
What Is Form I-130?
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is a crucial starting point for those applying for family-based immigration to the United States. Whether you’re a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR), filing this petition means you have a special connection with a foreign family member or intending immigrant.
This connection, often a familial relationship like being a spouse, parent, sibling, or child, is the cornerstone of this immigration process. It’s the legal way to initiate the journey that might eventually lead to your loved ones being able to join you in the United States. This form sets the official wheels in motion, beginning a potentially life-changing path toward family reunification.
What Happens After Filing A Petition For Your Alien Relative?
Filing form I-130 is a huge step in reuniting with your foreign family member by bringing them to the United States. However, you should know that it is not the journey’s end. You must take various steps to finally be with your loved ones in the country.
USCIS Receipt Notice & Processing
Upon receiving your petition, USCIS will issue a receipt notice to acknowledge the receipt of your application. This notice will also include a receipt number, enabling you to track the status of your case.
Subsequently, the agency will meticulously review your petition to ensure its completeness and the qualification of the family relationship. They may request additional documentation or information to further assess your case if necessary.
Approval Or Denial
If USCIS approves your I-130 petition, they will send an approval notice. If the petition is denied, the agency will provide a written explanation for the denial. You will then have the option to appeal or reapply.
If the petition is approved and the beneficiary is outside the United States, the approved petition is typically transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will process the case further and inform you about the required fees and documentation.
Consular Processing Or Adjustment Of Status
The process then splits into two tracks. If the beneficiary is outside the United States, they will go through consular processing at the consulate or U.S. embassy in their home country. However, if the beneficiary is already in the United States and eligible to adjust status, they can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Beneficiaries undergoing consular processing will be required to participate in an interview at the consulate located in their home country. During this interview, U.S. officials will evaluate the applicant’s eligibility, background, and adherence to immigration requirements.
The interview is a crucial step in obtaining an immigrant visa. It allows authorities to assess the applicant’s qualifications and suitability for entry into the United States as a permanent resident.
Immigrant Visa Or Green Card Issuance
Upon successful approval, beneficiaries following the consular processing path will be granted an immigrant visa, permitting them to enter the United States. This visa allows them to seek entry to the country. Conversely, those who opted for the adjustment of status route will be issued a Green Card. It provides them with permanent residency status within the United States.
Entry Into The United States
After receiving an immigrant visa, the beneficiary can travel to the United States and seek entry as a lawful permanent resident. The specific timeline and requirements can vary based on the family relationship, visa availability, the beneficiary’s country of origin, and other factors.
It’s essential to stay informed about the status of your case and follow the guidance provided by USCIS and the NVC. Consulting with a lawyer for immigration can help you navigate this complex process.
What Benefits Do You Get After The Petition’s Approval?
The approval of your petition for alien relative signifies that the U.S. government has recognized the qualifying family relationship between you and your beneficiary. It comes with several benefits for both the petitioner and the intending immigrant.
- Family Reunification: The primary benefit is the ability to reunite family members. It is a significant step toward bringing the beneficiary to the United States to live with their family.
- Eligibility for Further Immigration Steps: The beneficiary can proceed with the next steps in the immigration process. These include consular processing or adjustment of status, depending on their location and circumstances.
- Priority Date: The approval establishes a priority date, which is essential for tracking the beneficiary’s place in the queue for visa processing.
- Eligibility for Employment Authorization: In some cases, beneficiaries with an approved I-130 petition may be eligible to apply for work authorization while waiting for their visa or Green Card.
- Path to U.S. Citizenship: Once the beneficiary becomes a lawful permanent resident, they can eventually pursue U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
It’s important to note that while an approved I-130 petition is a significant milestone, it does not grant immediate immigration status. The beneficiary must still go through additional steps, such as consular processing or adjustment of status. In line with this, it is vital that you prepare for the challenges that filing for the petition may carry.
What Are The Challenges In Filing The Petition?
While filing form I-130 offers numerous advantages, it is also good to know its potential challenges. Understanding these will help you prepare and manage your expectations.
- The process may be time-consuming. Processing periods may be lengthy, particularly for some categories. The beneficiary may have to wait a long time to reunite with their family in the United States.
- Backlogs in granting visas. Annual visa quotas applicable to family-based priority categories can cause visa backlogs. It indicates the recipient must still wait for their visa number to become accessible before proceeding with the succeeding steps.
- Financial commitments. You must sign an Affidavit of Support or Form I-864 as the petitioner. It is to prove you can afford to financially help the beneficiary as they adjust to their new life.
- Potential Ineligibility. Depending on the situation, the recipient may not be eligible for immigration benefits due to certain considerations. It includes criminal records, immigration infractions, or health problems.
Before submitting your application, it is crucial to consult with an immigration attorney or seek legal counsel to assess your case thoroughly. An experienced legal representative can help you identify any potential challenges that may arise during the immigration process.
How Can An Immigration Attorney Help You?
An attorney for immigration can provide invaluable assistance to individuals filing form I-130. They help applicants navigate the complexities of the immigration process and provide crucial support in several ways. Additionally, immigration law can be intricate, making it essential to have a skilled ally help you understand the complexities of your case. An attorney ensures you meet all requirements and guides you through the legal maze.
Moreover, there may be times when USCIS will request additional information or documentation from you. An immigration attorney will help you prepare a comprehensive response, increasing the likelihood of petition approval. As mentioned, one of the challenges in filing this petition is the delay. It can be frustrating, but your attorney can help expedite the process, ensuring your case progresses smoothly.
Your attorney serves as an advocate throughout your immigration journey, from the initial I-130 petition filing to obtaining a visa or Green Card. Their knowledge and skills are invaluable in navigating the intricate and ever-changing immigration landscape.
The approval of the I-130 petition doesn’t guarantee immediate immigration status. It only establishes a petitioner’s relationship with their foreign family member. However, once your I-130 petition gets approved, the process diverges for beneficiaries inside and outside the United States. Consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate is necessary for those abroad. However, if the beneficiary is already in the U.S. and eligible, they can opt for adjustment of status.
Additional steps and potential challenges exist, including waiting periods, visa backlogs, financial commitments, and eligibility issues. Therefore, consulting an immigration attorney is advisable, as they help navigate the complexities of the process. They also provide assistance from I-130 petition submission to attaining a visa or Green Card.