Help with Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

The Form I-130 can be very confusing, and minor mistakes now can become major mistakes later.  You may want or need help.

If you need help petitioning for a relative, contact Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez.  Giselle helps clients with the full range of immigration challenges, including completing or correcting Form I-130. She is bilingual (English & Spanish), and works with clients throughout Greater Boston and Massachusetts. Contact Giselle today to discuss your case, or read on to find out more.

Whether or not you work with an immigration attorney, you probably want to know more about the Form I-130 and how to get it right.  Here is a little info on it.

When do you need to file Form I-130?

The sponsor files the form, not the person who is trying to immigrate. You, the US Citizen or current green card holder, are the sponsor.  The person who is seeking the green card is known instead as the beneficiary.

Before filling out the form, it’s a good idea to ensure you’re eligible to be a sponsor in the first place.  Eligibility requirements are:

  • You’re filing for an eligible family member – that is, a spouse, parent, child, or sibling.
  • You are a US Citizen or green card holder.
  • You can provide proof that a legally valid relationship exists.

Later, you will need to provide your loved one with an Affidavit of Support. This will require you to have an annual income that is at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. You can use assets to meet that requirement, as well as income, and other people may help you meet the requirements if you can’t meet them on your own. The beneficiary may also use his or her own income to meet financial requirements if that income will continue to come from the same source after obtaining the green card.

What mistakes are common on the Form I-130?

I see several common mistakes:

  • Misunderstanding the meaning of the word “ever.” For example, question 16 asks “Has your relative ever been under immigration proceedings?” People sometimes answer “no” when those cases were dropped or dismissed, but a dropped or dismissed case doesn’t mean an immigrant wasn’t involved in the case. The correct answer here is “Yes,” along with the relevant information. Immigration officials will look up the case and see for themselves that the case was dropped or dismissed.
  • Failing to write “NONE” where applicable. Do not leave any line of your petition blank. If you don’t have a USCIS account number, for example, write NONE to show that you don’t have one. Otherwise, immigration officials may assume you left the item blank by mistake, or, worse, that you’re trying to conceal information from them.
  • Failing to write “N/A” when a question is not applicable. You do that for all the same reasons when you might write “none.”
  • Failing to use explicit numbers. If you’re asked “how many,” use the exact number, even if that number is zero.
  • Failing to understand the difference between a passport and a travel document. You’re asked how many of each you have, as though everyone has both kinds of documents: Most have only a passport OR a travel document, not both. On the form, write down how many of one type you have, and write “N/A” for the other. Do not repeat the number for the passport in the “travel document” space, or vice versa.

Other points to know about Form I-130

You must provide appropriate evidence at the same time you file the form. For example, if you are filing for a spouse you need to include evidence that this is a legally recognized marriage. You also have to provide proof of the beneficiary’s nationality, proof of your citizenship or permanent residency status, and proof of the beneficiary’s name change, if applicable.

Filling out form I-130 is less like filling out a form and more like filling out a job or college application, in that USCIS will use is to determine whether your loved one can immigrate to the United States.

12 pages of confusion

It’s common to need help to fill out the I-130 form – correctly and on the first try.  It’s dense, long, confusing, and the whole feel of the document can seem a little oppositional.

Plus, you may only get one shot to bring your relative to the United States with you. If USCIS rejects your application you may not get another chance. Some mistakes aren’t fixable.

Consider scheduling a consultation with me so that I can check your paperwork for you before you submit it. It will save you a lot of time and pain. It may even save you money. Most important of all, it can protect your ability to unite your family here in the United States. You can contact me, Boston immigration attorney Giselle M. Rodriguez, to discuss your case.