What Steps are Involved in I-130 Petitions in Arizona to Reunite with Family Members?
Getting approval on Form I-130 is a critical first step for family-based immigration, but USCIS rules are complex. Errors can lead to delays or a denial, preventing a relative from moving forward on LPR status. Therefore, it is crucial to retain an Arizona immigration lawyer who has in-depth knowledge of the relevant laws and will guide you through the process. You can also learn more by reviewing some useful facts about Form I-130 petitions.
Purpose of the I-130 Petitions in Arizona for Alien Relative
The function of this form is to show USCIS that a valid family relationship exists between the petitioner and the individual seeking a green card. There are strict rules on family-based immigration, and officials want to know details about your relationship and whether you meet the initial criteria. Additional steps and requirements apply for LPR status, but USCIS needs proof of the family connection before moving forward. Getting a green card for an alien relative is conditional upon approval of Form I-130.
In addition, there is another important purpose the petition can serve in certain situations. Filing the form saves a place in line for the foreign-born relative to get a green card. USCIS operates on a first-come, first-served basis for some family-based cases. When the agency receives your documents, it sets the priority date and will process the form in order of the date of receipt. Note that immediate family members skip the line when a US citizen is filing the petition, so the matter of priority date is not as critical.
How You Play a Role with Form I-130 in Arizona
Once you understand the basic functions of the petition, it is important to clarify the parties involved in the process. You may be participating as:
- Petitioner: This is the individual who fills out the form to get the green card process started for a family member abroad. The petitioner must be a US national, US citizen, or person with LPR status. If you are the petitioner, you should realize that the information you include in the form is provided under oath. There can be serious penalties for perjury.
- Beneficiary: This term refers to the alien relative of the petitioner who is seeking a green card. The beneficiary does not actually sign Form I-130. Once USCIS approves Form I-130 establishing the family relationship, he or she can proceed to the next stages for LPR status.
When completing the petition for a relative, you will supply details on the beneficiary’s current location and immigration status. There are specific rules when the beneficiary is abroad versus being present in the US.
Eligibility Under USCIS Rules
Another key fact about I-130 petitions is whether the petitioner and beneficiary qualify under regulations established for family-based immigration. Based on the status of the petitioner, the relatives who qualify as beneficiaries may vary. For instance, US citizens can petition on behalf of spouses, children, parents, sisters, and brothers. However, if the petitioner currently holds a green card, the list of beneficiaries is shorter. You can only submit a Form I-130 for a spouse or unmarried child.
In addition, the following relatives are ineligible as beneficiaries:
- Grandparents and grandchildren
- Uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and cousins
- An adoptive parent or adopted child, when the adoption was completed after the child turned 16 years old
- A biological parent of a petitioner who was adopted
In general, USCIS will also deny the Petition for Alien Relative if it finds that the petitioner or beneficiary married solely for purposes of subverting immigration laws. For example, spouses do not establish a family relationship if one person was involved in immigration court proceedings for deportation at the time.
Objectives of Form I-130 Petitions in Arizona
You can see from the above description that the point of these petitions is to establish a family relationship and complete the first stage of getting a green card. However, there are some specific objectives that you can accomplish.
- If you are a current US citizen, you help immediate relatives on their path to a green card. The beneficiaries may be a foreign-born spouse, unmarried children under age 21, and your parents.
- Petitioners who are US citizens can also file to support preference relatives who are not immediate family members, such as older children and siblings.
- When adopting a child from another country, parents complete the I-130 petition as part of the process.
- Individuals who carry LPR status file the form to establish the family relationship and hold a place in line for the beneficiary. For a petitioner who holds a green card, there are limited visas available for a child, spouse, or the spouse’s children. When these individuals proceed to seek a green card, priority dates back to Form I-130.
Evidence for Alien Relative Petitions in Arizona
As you might expect, USCIS requires solid, credible proof for Form I-130. The information is used to determine the eligibility of the petitioner and beneficiary, as well as to establish the family relationship between them through marriage, adoption, or other connection. Supplying required documents and secondary evidence is essential for gaining approval, so rely on an immigration attorney in Arizona for assistance with the following paperwork:
- Proof of the petitioner’s citizenship or LPR status
- Information about the beneficiary’s nationality
- Evidence of the family relationship, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, and divorce records
- Any details regarding name changes
Required documents for proving these factors typically come from government records, but USCIS may accept secondary evidence. As an example, church, employment, and school records may be sufficient when formal paperwork is not available.
How Long It Takes USCIS to Process a Form I-130 in Arizona
The question on the minds of many petitioners and beneficiaries is when they can expect word from officials. Fortunately, if you submit sufficient evidence, USCIS is likely to approve the petition without the same exhaustive probe as the green card process. This is because Form I-130 is only a precursor for LPR status, and approval does not give any immigration status or benefits.
Still, there are many variables to weigh regarding USCIS processing times. Important factors include:
- The petitioner’s status as a US citizen or green card holder
- The type of family relationship
- Whether the beneficiary lives abroad or in the US upon submitting the petition
What Happens When Form I-130 is Approved
Getting approval from USCIS sets the stage for what comes next with family-based immigration, which is ensuring the beneficiary can move forward to permanently, legally stay in the US. The exact process for getting a green card varies, but it is reassuring to know that you have already completed the important first step with approval on your I-130 petition.
The next stage is a green card application, which is a more extensive process that involves a thorough investigation by USCIS. Officials will review history regarding living arrangements, family relationships, employment, and any previous immigration matters. Plus, USCIS will look into any criminal records, including convictions and arrests that did not result in a conviction.
Legal Help with Form I-130 Petitions in Arizona for Alien Relative
When you are a person seeking a green card or helping a family member obtain one, it is natural to focus on the LPR application. However, from the above, you can see that your initial priority should be Form I-130. Approval for an alien relative is one step along the family-based immigration path, so it is an essential component of your overall strategy.
As such, you are more likely to obtain favorable outcomes from USCIS when you have legal assistance from a skilled Arizona Form I-130 lawyer. An attorney will develop a solid strategy that encompasses this first stage, as well as what follows for a person seeking a green card. You can count on assistance with:
- Gathering required documents as support for the petition
- Investigating to access secondary evidence as necessary to supplement the Form I-130
- Completing all forms and submitting them to USCIS online or via a paper application
- Assisting with fee waivers for the $535 filing fee, if you qualify
- Addressing a Notice of Intent to Deny if USCIS does not have sufficient evidence, which can serve to correct mistakes and keep your petition on track
- Coordinating with the appropriate US Embassy or Consulate in the beneficiary’s home country
- Preparing you for an interview, if requested by USCIS
- Helping with a concurrent filing, in which you submit the Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status for a green card at the same time
Consult with an Immigration Lawyer About I-130 Petitions in Arizona
These facts about Form I-130 petitions should help you gain insight into the basic rules and eligibility requirements. This information also highlights the importance of having skilled legal representation on your side for family-based immigration matters. ABC Legal has extensive experience assisting those seeking to reunite with relatives from abroad, so please contact our firm today. We are happy to set up a consultation with an Arizona immigration attorney who will provide personalized details.
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