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I-130 Blog Post

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Immigration

One of the most commonly misunderstood immigration processes is that of the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. While this is the first step in every family-based green card process, the I-130 is nuanced and can be tricky to navigate.

Form I-130 is used to establish a legitimate familial relationship between a U.S. person (citizen or lawful permanent resident) and a qualifying member of their family. U.S. citizens can file an I-130 on behalf of their spouses, children, parents, and siblings. Permanent residents can file an I-130 petition for their spouses and unmarried children. In each of these cases, the Form I-130 must be accompanied by documentation to prove that the people in question are related in the way that they claim.

Of course, proving a family relationship can be straightforward; in some cases, a properly issued birth certificate is enough. In other cases, extensive documentation and even DNA testing may be required to prove that the parties really do have the claimed family relationship.

Obtaining an I-130 approval between spouses can be a difficult and highly personal process. As is depicted in some popular movies, successfully petitioning for one’s spouse does, in fact, require the disclosure of a lot of highly personal information. The information and documentation required might include things like a personal declaration of how the parties fell in love, disclosures about shared finances and expenses, family photos, and sometimes even copies of personal correspondence exchanged between spouses. Couples who are required to attend in-person interviews with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service can expect to be questioned about these very items, and in some cases spouses are actually separated and questioned separately so that their answers may be compared for consistency.

No matter which type of family relationship is at the center of your I-130 petition, it is imperative that you seek experienced counsel to assist you with the preparation of your case. Insufficient documentation of an I-130 petition is costly: while the current filing fee is $535.00 USD, that price will rise to $675.00 USD in April of 2024. Worse still, the processing time for I-130 petitions typically starts at around 11 months, but it can take years for some petitions.

Finally, remember that the I-130 does one thing and one thing only. It establishes that you have a legitimate family relationship with your family member for the purposes of sponsoring them for a green card, and in so doing, it establishes their place in what can be a very long line to receive the green card itself (or an immigrant visa). It does not provide your family member with the ability to enter the United States or remain here lawfully, nor to accept employment within the country.

How long must an individual wait to apply for a green card once their I-130 petition is approved? It depends on several factors, including their country of origin, whether the I-130 sponsor is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and what type of family relationship the parties share. Some individuals are classified as “Immediate Relatives” and are not subject to the national yearly limits on green card issuance. These individuals include spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens, and parents of adult U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives can apply for green cards or immigrant visas as soon as their I-130 petitions are approved.

Everybody else is subject to our national system for limiting the number of green cards issued yearly. The United States Department of State publishes a monthly “Visa Bulletin” detailing how long the wait times are to receive a green card depending on the individual’s country of origin, whether the I-130 sponsor is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and what type of family relationship the parties share. Individuals from China, India, Mexico, and the Philippines may find themselves waiting much longer than individuals from the rest of the world, due to the high number of immigrants from these countries. Take, for example, families originally from Mexico: if you are from Mexico and you are the married son or daughter, or sibling, of a U.S. citizen, you may need to wait 24-26 years to apply for your green card!

Finally, other factors may significantly impact how soon your loved one can obtain a green card or immigrant visa after their I-130 is approved. Depending on the details of their personal health, immigration and criminal history, it may still be a long wait before your loved one is able to live in the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

If you are considering sponsoring a relative for a green card, it is never too early to begin work on your I-130 petition. A skilled attorney will help you secure enough documentation and information to successfully submit your petition and begin the journey towards a green card for your loved one.

If you are interested in beginning the process of obtaining a green card for your loved one, contact us today. David Hirson & Partners, LLP has offices in Costa Mesa, CA and Seattle, WA. Connect with us by phone or at our website,

Costa Mesa, CA Office: (949) 441-4003
Seattle, WA Office: (206) 926-3973