Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the immigrant petition that must be filed by a US citizen who seeks to help his family member to immigrate to America. Some wrongly believe that they would be granted Green Cards as soon as this petition is approved but the approval of this immigrant petition is just the first step. If you are an immediate relative of the US citizen who filed Form I-130 for you, you can file an application for an immigrant visa as soon as Form I-130 is filed for you and you need not wait until the USCIS approves Form I-130. This process will be easier if you are in America and if your US citizen immediate relative files Form I-130 for you. In this case, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, while your immediate relative files Form I-130 for you. You may adjust your status and become a permanent resident while in America and you need not go through consular processing.
Only the immediate relatives of US citizens need not wait until the immigrant petitions filed on their behalf are approved and the relatives who belong to preference categories will have to wait for a long time and they can file applications for immigrant visas only after the immigrant petitions filed on their behalf are approved. Hence, for such relatives the approval of Form I-130 is just the first step and it means that they are placed in a queue. Similarly, application receipt numbers will be assigned to all the applicants and those numbers will show their places in the line.
After approving Form I-130, USCIS will forward the applications to the National Visa Center (NVC) and the NVC will contact the beneficiaries and ask them to submit certain forms and complete Form DS230, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration. Meanwhile, applicants will have to undergo medical examinations and collect the other required supporting documents and after that, they need to appear for immigrant visa interviews and submit the sealed envelopes that contains the results of the medical examination and the other documents.
Only after their priority dates become current, relatives who belong to the preference categories can apply for immigrant visas. This also applies to the relatives in America as non-immigrants as they can also file petitions for adjustment of status only after the approval of the immigrant petitions. Hence, after the approval of Form I-130, the beneficiaries will have to go through consular processing and apply for immigrant visas or they need to apply for adjustment of status, if they are in America as non-immigrants.