Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the first step in helping a relative obtain a family based green card in the U.S. This form is filed to establish a valid family relationship between the applicant and the beneficiary of the immigrant petition.
Receipt of Form I-130
Once the Form I-130 is filed, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) send an application receipt notice, Form I-797, Notice of Action. A notice of action stating that the application has been approved will be sent to applicants whose applications have been approved or a rejection notice will be sent if the application is rejected. USCIS will send this notice if it needs additional information to process an application. This notice or action is an important document as it will have the application receipt number that the applicants will need to use to track the progress of their cases.
Review of the I-130 Petition
After an I-130 application is received, USCIS will review it. Based on the preference category, USCIS will prioritize the review of the petitions. Applications filed for immediate relatives will be processed faster. An unlimited number of immigrant visas are made available for the immediate relatives so the processing times are faster for those in this category. The wait time will be longer for those who belong to other categories because of the limit in the number of visas issued to people belonging to family preference categories.
USCIS might take around five to 12 months to approve applications filed on behalf of immediate relatives. USCIS will also review Form I-485 filed by immediate relatives concurrently with Form I-130. If the applications for adjustment of status and Form I-130 are approved, beneficiaries of immigrant petitions will receive their green cards. Adjustment of status applies only to the immediate relatives in the U.S. and not to those living abroad.
USCIS will forward the cases of applicants living outside the U.S. to the National Visa Center that will process the applications further and schedule interviews at an overseas U.S. Embassy or Consulate. Application processing time will be short for immediate relatives and they need not wait for priority dates to become current. But this is not the case for those in family preference categories. Their applications will take longer to approve.