I-130 Sponsor Family for a Green Card
The permanent resident card (Green Card) is a document that is proof of an immigrant's right to live in the U.S. as a permanent resident. Relatives of U.S. citizens receive Green Cards quickest compared to relatives of permanent residents. Certain members of a Green Card holder's family can also apply for their own Green Cards. For most immigrants, the journey to permanent residence in the U.S. begins when a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder relative files Form I-130, Sponsor Family for a Green Card, with the USCIS.
Who can I help immigrate to the U.S. as a citizen?
U.S. citizens can file for the following relatives immigration using Form I-130:
- Natural parents, step-parents and adoptive parents
- Unmarried sons and daughters under the age of 21
- Husbands and wives
- Brothers and sisters, adopted siblings, step-siblings and half siblings
- Married children or children over the age of 21
What is the next step after filing Form I-130?
family members already living in the United States legally can file their Application to Register Permanent Residence as soon as you file Form I-130 for them. This is called "concurrent filing." Parents, children and spouses of U.S. citizens can concurrently file because they do not have to wait for a visa number to become available.
If the family member lives outside the U.S. when the National Visa Center (NVC) assigns their visa number, then the NVC will send the family members' immigration petition and visa number to their local U.S. consulate or embassy. The local agency will advise your family member to visit the agency to complete consular processing.
Who can I petition for immigration as a U.S. permanent resident (Green Card holder)?
The following relatives may apply to immigrate after the USCIS approves the green card holder's Form I-130 petition:
There may be a wait for a visa number because the U.S. limits the number of visas given to children in these categories each year.
What is the next step after the petition is filed?
The NVC assigns your USCIS-approved petition a "priority date," which is the date of receipt for the application. Once no more visa numbers are available for a given year, a wait list develops. At the top of the list is the priority date of the first person who otherwise qualifies for a visa number but can't get one (the "cut-off" date). As long as there is a cut-off date, the USCIS only gives visa numbers to people who have priority dates earlier than the current cut-off date. Once the annual limit of visa numbers is reached, the cut-off date changes, so the U.S. Department of State announces the current cut-off date in a monthly Visa Bulletin.
If your family member is inside the U.S. with temporary permission from the USCIS at the time that they receive a visa number, they will then file the Form I-485 Green Card application. If your family member is outside of the U.S. at the time that they receive a visa number, the NVC will send your petition and their visa number to the family members' local U.S. consulate or embassy, which will advise the family member to come in to complete visa processing.
How long does it take for the USCIS to process Form I-130?
It may take six months or more for the USCIS to process and approve Form I-130 from the time that you send it in. However, this is often only the first step for helping your relatives immigrate to the United States. Their wait for a visa number may take additional time on top of the I-130 wait time.
How much does it cost to sponsor a family member for a Green Card?
The following is a breakdown of the different fees associated with Form I-130 with application assistance:
- Application assistance fee: $240
- Application fee: $535
- Total: $775