By:  Shane C. Sidebottom

If you are a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Residence of the United States (have a “Green card”), you may be able to file an I-130 petition with USCIS for an overseas relative so that they can immigrate to the United States.

U.S. citizens may file an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative for the following relatives:
• Your husband or wife (including a Same Sex Spouse)
• Your child; unmarried children under the age of 21 are eligible for an immediate visa
• A stepchild if you were married to their biological parent before the child turned 18 years of age
• Married son or daughter of any age
• A brother or sister, if the U.S. citizen sponsor is at least 21 years of age
• A parent, if the U.S. citizen sponsor is at least 21 years of age

Lawful Permanent Residents may file an I-130 Petition for the following relatives:
• Spouses
• Your unmarried children under the age of 21
• Your unmarried children 21 years of age or older

Some I-130 petitions for certain relatives will be classified as “immediate relatives” who are eligible for an immediate visa to the U.S. upon approval of the I-130 petition and completion of visa processing at the National Visa Center (NVC). For U.S. citizens, that includes your spouse, children under the age of 21, or your parent(s), the I-130 approval processes typically takes 5-10 months depending on the USCIS office processing your application. Upon approval of the I-130 petition, your case file will be transferred to the NVC for further processing on the specific visa the family member needs to come to the United States.
For other petitions of a U.S. citizen, and for permanent residents, their petition for I-130 will be processed when a visa becomes available based upon the category of the visa and the country in which your relative lives. Relatives who do not qualify as an immediate relative, are assigned a preference category for their visa. The National Visa Center releases a monthly report on when that relative’s visa will be available to process. It should be noted that some family visa categories can take several years before they reach eligibility time to process a visa.

When your I-130 petition is approved and a visa is available, the approved I-130 petition is sent to the NVC for further processing. The NVC will collect additional documents from the Petitioner, review the Visa submitted application, and approve the Affidavit of Support that Petitioners must complete to support their petition for their relative to live in the U.S. Upon NVC approval, the relative will be scheduled for a visa interview at the U.S. embassy in their home country.

If you would like to learn more about the immigration process for relatives living overseas, contact Ziegler & Schneider to discuss the process in more detail.

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