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Family Based Green Card: Petition for Alien Relative

Family Based Green Card: Petition for Alien Relative

The petition for alien relative is the necessary first stage of any Family Based Green Card application. The petition must be completed by the U.S. citizen, and the immigration petition must be approved before a Family Based Green Card application can begin.

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What is the I-130 Petition for Alien?

The immigration petition for an alien relative is used to establish the relationship between a U.S. citizen/Green Card holder and an eligible relative who wishes to remain in the United States permanently.

The petition stage is the necessary first step in the application procedure for any Family Based Green Card.

The petition must be completed by the U.S. citizen/Green Card holder before the foreign applicant begins the visa application procedure. The visa application procedure can only begin if and when the petition is accepted.

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What do I Need to Know About the Immigration Petition for an Alien Relative?

The form which the U.S. citizen needs to complete is: Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relatives.

All sections must be completed, and the form needs to meet the necessary administrative standards.

As mentioned above, only U.S. citizens/Green Card holders can file I-130 petitions. This person will be known as the petitioner or sponsor of the beneficiary (the foreign national who wishes to immigrate).

Once the petition has been filed, the USCIS will respond by mailing a receipt to the petitioner confirming that the petition has been received.

The application procedure for any Family Based Green Card cannot begin until the petition has been approved.



What are the Required Documents for an I-130 Petition?

The petitioner will need to submit a number of documents to support the petition application. These documents are required to prove that the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary is genuine.

For instance, a Green Card for minors (IR2) would require the petitioner to include a copy of a genuine birth certificate of the child.

Generally, the required documents include:

  • Proof of the sponsor’s status as a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder
  • Proof of the legally valid relationship
  • Proof of the nationality of the beneficiary
  • Proof of any name changes of sponsor or beneficiary

‘Secondary evidence’ documents might be accepted when original documents cannot be located for reasons beyond the petitioner’s/beneficiary’s control.

What is the Fee for the I 130 Petition?

There is a government filing fee of $535 which the U.S. citizen must pay when they submit the petition.

This must be paid in order for the petition to be considered for approval.

Where do I Send the I-130 Petition form?

The petition needs to be sent to a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) field office. The specific office which the petitioner needs to send it to depends on where they are located.

Some of the largest offices are located in Chicago, Dallas and Phoenix.

How Long Does it Take to Process an I-130 Petition?

Generally speaking, the processing time for an I-130 petition is between 7 and 15 months, but it could be longer.

The processing time depends on the USCIS office which is processing the petition. Also, the processing time could differ depending on the family relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, and whether the petitioner is a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder.

It is extremely important that you file the petition to the appropriate standard. Failure to do so will result in the USCIS requesting additional items or, a complete rejection of the petition.

To avoid any delays in the processing time (and the time it takes for your family member to join you in the United States) you must complete the petition to the required standards.

Here at the Immigration Advice Service, we can help you formulate your petition. With many years of experience in the field, we will maximise your chances of receiving the outcome you are looking for.

Call us now on +1 844 290 6312 to find out more.

What are the Family Based Green Cards?

Once the petition has been approved, the applicant will be eligible to begin the process of applying for a Family Based Visa/Green Card.

There are two types of Family Based Green Cards: Preference Relative Visas and Immediate Relative Visas.

Preference Relatives are subject to a cap on the number of people who can receive one every year. After the petition has been approved, the applicant will need to wait until their application becomes current before beginning the application procedure.

Immediate Relative Green Cards are for the closest relatives to the petitioner. This includes spouses, unmarried children and parents.

Immediate Relative Visas do not have any caps on the number of people who receive one. This means that as soon as the petition has been approved, the applicant can begin the application procedure.

As a result, Immediate Relative Visa applicants will receive a decision on their Green Card application much quicker than Preference Relative Visa applicants.

Preference Relative Visas

Preference Relative visas are designed for relatives of U.S. citizens/Green Card holders, but not immediate relatives.

These visas are:

  • F2A Visa. For spouses and unmarried children of U.S permanent residents
  • F2B Visa. For unmarried adult children of Green Card holders and U.S. citizens
  • F3 Visa. For married adult children of U.S. citizens, and their spouse and minor children
  • F4 Visa. For the siblings of U.S. citizens

Immediate Relative Visas

Immediate Relative Visas are for the most immediate relatives to U.S. citizens including spouses, children and parents.

There are five Immediate Relative Visas:

  • IR1 Visa for spouses of U.S. citizens
  • IR2 Visa for minors who are under 21-years-old
  • IR3 Visa for children adopted abroad
  • IR4 Visa for children adopted in the United States
  • IR5 Visa for parent/s of U.S. citizens
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Frequently Asked Questions

Under the U.S. immigration law, the following relatives meet the definition of “immediate family”:

  • Spouse of U.S. citizens (IR1 Visa category);
  • Unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens (IR2 Visa category);
  • Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen (IR3 category);
  • Orphan adopted in the U.S. by a local citizen (IR4 category);
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen (IR5 Visa category).

If you do not fit in any of these categories, you may not be an immediate relative. However, you may still be eligible for another Green card family preference category.

You can sponsor your immediate relative members’ petitions if you are either a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

The first step to take is to submit your I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. Along with your application form, you must provide adequate proof of your relationship with your family.

In addition, you must prove that you can support your relatives financially, and they do not need to rely on U.S. welfare. The USCIS also needs to review if your family members hold any criminal record or a history of immigration violations.

If your immediate family is already in the U.S. under a different visa, you do not need to file a Petition for Alien Relative. Your family must submit a Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).

The I-130, also known as Petition for Alien Relative, is the form that you need to submit to the USCIS to petition for a family-based Green Card. It is used to establish a relationship between a U.S. lawful permanent resident and his or her alien relatives.

If you wish to sponsor for more than one family member, you must submit a separate I-130 form for each of them. It is also worth mentioning that if you are applying for K visas or Family Preference tiers, you cannot use the I-130 Petition. To bring your foreign partner to the U.S. you should submit a K3 visa application form for spouses or a K1 visa form for fiancé(e)s.

Upon approval of the I-130 Form, your relatives will be summoned for an interview at their local U.S. consulate.


The family based Green Card processing time usually takes from 5 to 12 months after filing your petition.  The waiting time significantly varies based on the type of relationship between you and your relatives.

The immigration department may issue an RFE (Request for Evidence) before approving your petition. You can follow the status of your application online on the USCIS website.

Each family-based Green Card tier is processed individually and at a separate time. While they wait for their response, your relatives can travel to and from the U.S.

However, they cannot apply for other non-immigrant visas. The pending Form I-130 implies their immigrant intent.

The total cost for getting a Green Card through family includes:

  • The filing fee for Form I-130 ($535);
  • Fee for Form I-485, if your family is already in the U.S. (from $750 to $1,140, depending on the visa tier);
  • Immigrant application processing fee, if your family leaves abroad (325$);
  • USCIS immigrant fee ($220);
  • Biometrics fees ($85).

IR petitions are usually processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Your application forms must be free of errors and inconsistencies, or you may delay your application.

If your I-130 Petition is denied, the USCIS will issue a Notice of Action to reject or delay your request. To avoid this undesirable outcome, you must seek the guidance of an expert.

At IAS, we can make your family based Green Card application process less stressful for you and your family.