Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative

A US citizen or a green card holder can file a petition with immigration service for his/her relatives to migrate to the USA. The first step is to file Form I-130. You will have to wait for your turn to receive a green card through family, as there are quotes for most of the categories (exception: spouses and parents of US citizens).

Having received an immigration visa, relatives enter the USA and receive their green cards by mail within two weeks.

As a US citizen you can file a petition I-130 for:

Your spouse – no waiting period;

Your unmarried child under 21 – no waiting period;

Your unmarried child over 21 – there is a wait time, category F1;

Your married child of any age – there is a wait time, category F3;

Your brother or sister (you need to be 21 years of age or more) – there is a wait time, category F4;

Your parent (you need to be 21 years of age or more) – no waiting period.

As a green card holder you can file a petition I-130 for:

Your husband – there is a wait time, category F2A;

Your unmarried child under 21 – there is a wait time, category F2A;

Your unmarried child over 21 – there is a wait time, category F2B;

Marriage and illegal status

Marriage with a US citizen condones illegal stay in the USA (even if the court decision on your removal came into force).

Marriage with a green card holder does not give such a benefit. Moreover, you have to reside in the USA legally during the time you wait for your turn to receive a green card.


Procedure may depend on the place where the relative resides – in the USA or abroad.

When a US citizen files a petition for a spouse, unmarried children under 21 or parents, who are in the USA, Form I-485 can be attached to it (application for a green card) and you skip the waiting period.

If a family member is outside the USA, he or she applies for a green card in the US Embassy. An immigrant gets immigration visa in the passport and a sealed package of documents that he or she takes to the USA. In two weeks a green card is usually mailed to the applicant.

Regardless of who submits the documents a green card holder or a citizen the procedure is the following:

In the USAAbroad
No waiting period (spouses, parents, unmarried children under 21)Form I-485 can be submitted with Form I-130After an approval of I-130 the documents are forwarded to the National Visa Center.

Interview at the embassy is appointed shortly.

Waiting periodSubmit I-130 at first and a proof of legal status within the waiting period. When it is you turn, submit I-485.An interview in the embassy is appointed when your turn comes (check here)


Terms to process the Form depend on the category of relatives and your status. To check the current dates of processing, follow this link.

Document checklist

A document to prove your US citizenship (for example, birth certificate, US citizen passport or naturalization certificate) or copies of a green card;

Documents to prove family relationship (copies of marriage certificate, birth certificates of children and others);

A passport-style photo;

Completed and signed Form G-325A (Biographic information). Submitting this form with Immigrateful, it will appear on your account, check is free;

Documentation showing joint ownership or tenancy;

Income certificate;

Affidavits of third parties that prove family relationship;

Other documents that confirm your intentions.

For each case (spouses, children, parents, brothers and sisters) a separate list of documents is required. See the full list of documents on your account.


All your documents in any language, except for English, must be translated. You need to bring originals of all the documents mentioned in your application to an interview at the Embassy or Immigration Service.

Copies of documentary evidence attached to an application shall be of good quality and translated into English. Translation must be certified by translator’s signature with his/her name, contacts and qualification. All the originals will be returned after the interview.

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