Your Path to Family Reunification: Estimating the Expenses of Form I-130

What is Form I-130 used for?

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is a form used by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to establish the qualifying relationship between themselves and certain foreign relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States. The purpose of Form I-130 is to initiate the family-based immigration process, allowing eligible foreign relatives to eventually apply for lawful permanent residency (green card) and live permanently in the U.S.

Here are some key points about Form I-130:

  • Sponsorship: U.S. citizens and LPRs can use Form I-130 to sponsor certain eligible family members for immigration to the U.S. The sponsoring relative is known as the “petitioner,” and the foreign relative is the “beneficiary.”
  • Qualifying Relationships: Form I-130 can be filed for various eligible family relationships, including:
    • S. citizens can petition for their spouses, parents, children (unmarried and under 21), and siblings.
    • LPRs can petition for their spouses and unmarried children.
  • Immediate Relatives: Certain relationships are classified as “immediate relatives” and have unique benefits, including unlimited visa numbers. Immediate relatives include spouses, parents of U.S. citizens (if the petitioner is over 21), and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens.
  • Preference Categories: For relationships that fall outside the immediate relative category, USCIS allocates visas based on preference categories and the availability of visa numbers. These categories may have limited numbers of visas each year.
  • Consular Processing: Once the I-130 petition is approved, the foreign relative typically goes through consular processing if they are outside the U.S. This involves applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
  • Adjustment of Status: If the beneficiary is already in the U.S., they might be eligible to adjust status to lawful permanent resident status using Form I-485 after the I-130 is approved and a visa number becomes available.
  • Filing for Spouse or Child: U.S. citizens filing for their spouse or child may include Form I-130 and Form I-485 in a single package for concurrent filing, potentially expediting the process.
  • Proof of Relationship: The petitioner must provide evidence of the qualifying relationship, such as marriage certificates, birth certificates, or other relevant documents.
  • Filing Fee: Form I-130 requires a filing fee. The fee amount varies and is subject to change. Check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date fee information.
  • Processing Time: Processing times for Form I-130 can vary depending on the service center and the type of relationship. Check the USCIS website for the latest processing time information.

Form I-130 is the initial step in the family-based immigration process, and its approval establishes the qualifying relationship that allows eligible foreign relatives to apply for immigration benefits and eventually obtain lawful permanent residency in the United States.

Cost of petitioning a relative using Form I-130

The cost of petitioning a relative using Form I-130 can vary depending on factors such as the type of relationship, the petitioner’s status (U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident), and whether the petitioner is filing for an immediate relative or a family preference category. USCIS fees are subject to change, so it’s important to check the official USCIS website for the most up-to-date fee information before submitting your application.

Here are the filing fees associated with Form I-130:

  • S. Citizens Petitioning for Relatives:
    • Spouse: $535
    • Unmarried child under 21: $535 per child
    • Parent: $535
  • S. Citizens Petitioning for Siblings:
    • Sibling: $535
  • Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs) Petitioning for Relatives:
    • Spouse: $535
    • Unmarried child under 21: $535 per child

It’s important to note that these fees are per petition and per beneficiary. If you are petitioning for multiple family members, each beneficiary requires a separate Form I-130 and a separate filing fee.

Additionally, there are certain cases where the filing fees might be reduced or waived based on eligibility for fee waivers or certain financial circumstances. Make sure to check the USCIS website for guidance on fee waivers and eligibility criteria.

Remember that the Form I-130 filing fee is just one component of the overall process. Once the I-130 petition is approved, there will be additional fees associated with further stages of the immigration process, such as consular processing or adjustment of status.

To ensure you have the most accurate and up-to-date information regarding the fees associated with petitioning a relative using Form I-130, it’s recommended to visit the official USCIS website or consult with an immigration attorney.

Are there any other costs associated with filing Form I-130?

Yes, in addition to the filing fee for Form I-130, there may be other costs associated with the process of petitioning a relative. These costs can vary based on individual circumstances, the specific immigration pathway you’re pursuing, and any additional services or documents required. Here are some potential additional costs to consider:

  • Translation and Document Preparation: If any of your supporting documents, such as marriage certificates or birth certificates, are in a language other than English, you might need to have them translated. Additionally, you may need to pay for document preparation services or notarization.
  • Travel Expenses: Depending on your circumstances, there might be travel expenses related to attending interviews or appointments. This could include transportation, accommodation, and meals.
  • Medical Examination: If the beneficiary is applying for an immigrant visa through consular processing, they will likely need to undergo a medical examination by a designated civil surgeon. The cost of the medical examination can vary based on location and other factors.
  • Police Certificates and Background Checks: Some applicants might need to provide police certificates or undergo background checks as part of the application process. These documents might come with associated costs.
  • Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) Fees: If the petitioner needs to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, there could be expenses related to meeting the income requirements. This might include costs for obtaining financial documents, tax transcripts, or other relevant paperwork.
  • Consular Processing Fees: If the beneficiary is applying for an immigrant visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate, there are usually additional fees associated with the visa application process. These fees can vary based on the specific embassy or consulate.
  • Adjustment of Status Fees: If the beneficiary is already in the U.S. and adjusting status to a lawful permanent resident, there will be fees associated with Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization), and Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) if applicable.
  • Biometrics Fee: If USCIS requires the beneficiary to attend a biometrics appointment for fingerprinting, there might be a separate biometrics fee.
  • Legal Fees: While not mandatory, some petitioners choose to hire an immigration attorney to navigate the process. Legal fees can vary based on the complexity of your case and the services provided by the attorney.

It’s important to carefully review the USCIS instructions for Form I-130 and any other forms you’ll be submitting to understand all the requirements and potential costs associated with your specific situation. Additionally, consult the official USCIS website for the most up-to-date information on fees and requirements.

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