How Long Does the I-130 Petition Process Take?

Form I-130 approval times vary widely based on your immigration status, relationship type, and the number of petitions in line ahead of yours. They are processed on a first-come-first-served basis, and current wait times range from a few weeks to several years.

An I-130 petition is a document you file with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to assist a family member who wants to stay permanently in the United States. A successful I-130 in and of itself will not give your relative the right to live in the U.S.; however, it’s the first step to take toward helping them secure a Green Card.

Application Form I-130 petition for alien relative on a U.S. flag
Eliminate mistakes and expensive do-overs when completing your Petition for Alien Relative application, hire FileRight.

Form I-130 and the Family-Based Green Card Application

Form I-130, officially known as a Petition for Alien Relative, typically accompanies a family-based Green Card application. It establishes that you, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, have a valid family relationship with the Green Card applicant.

Your I-130 petition beneficiary could receive special immigration priority as an immediate relative, meaning processing could be faster. Though you can only qualify under this category if you are an American citizen, and your sponsored family member is your:

  • Spouse — Your legal husband or wife.
  • Child — Your unmarried child, under age 21.
  • Parent — Your mother or father, if you are over 21 years old.

Family Preference Categories

All other I-130 petitions must come under one of the following family preference categories. These case types often take longer than those involving immediate relatives. 

Consider the following list. The further down your circumstance is, the longer you can expect to wait for a decision: 

  • An unmarried adult son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, 21 years or older
  • Unmarried children (under 21 years old) or spouse of a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) (Green Card holder)
  • Unmarried adult sons and daughters of an LPR
  • Married sons and daughters (regardless of age) of a U.S. citizen
  • Brothers or sisters of a U.S. citizen

If your situation doesn’t fall into one of the above categories, you may not be eligible to file an I-130 petition for your relative. The USCIS will prevent you from sponsoring Green Card applications for grandchildren, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents. 

The I-130 Petition Process

Your I-130 petition will be processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) immigration branch. Understanding these petition steps may provide you with a clearer picture of how long the I-130 process takes.

  • Complete Form I-130 — In this application, you’ll disclose information about yourself, your relative, and the nature of your relationship.
  • Gather supporting documentation — You’ll be required to prove your identity and relationship with a birth certificate, your certificate of naturalization/Green Card, your marriage certificate, or proof of adoption.
  • Send your application and documents to USCIS — Submit your I-130 online or through the mail. There are multiple USCIS field offices, and the one closest to your house will handle your application.
  • Pay your USCIS filing fee — The current government filing fee for an I-130 petition is $535.
  • Receive Form I-797C, Notice of Action — After about two or three weeks, the USCIS will send you a notification stating that they received your paperwork and fee. This notice will include a receipt number you can use to follow up on the status of your application.
  • Send additional documents, if necessary — If you failed to make your case sufficiently, the USCIS might request extra documentation to prove your relationship. These requests can cause significant delays; therefore, you’ll want to submit them as soon as possible. 
  • Receive your USCIS decision — When the USCIS agents have completed your case review, they’ll render a decision approving or denying your petition.

After your I-130 petition is approved and an immigrant visa becomes available, your relative will be entitled to move on to the Green Card Application’s subsequent phases. You’ll also be required to appear at a USCIS visa interview to substantiate the claims made on your I-130 document.

FileRight Can Help Minimize Form I-130 Processing Errors

Immigration processing times are extensive enough without the extra delays that may occur when inaccurate or incomplete paperwork is submitted to the government. 

Errors as commonplace as failing to check a box or jumbling two numbers in a birthdate can lead to outright rejection. If this happens, you’d have to refile, pay an additional $535 filing fee, and wait while your petition is bumped to the back of the line.

With application preparation services from FileRight, you can rest assured that your packet is error-free and ready for USCIS scrutiny. Our automated software checks for inconsistencies and standard errors. A qualified immigration attorney will then review your documents for another layer of protection. 

Check Your I-130 Eligibility Today with FileRight

Discover if you meet Form I-130 petition requirements before submitting your paperwork to the USCIS and paying a hefty filing fee. 

With just a few straightforward questions, our Green Card Qualification Quiz will help you and your family discover a more manageable path to citizenship. With FileRight, there’s no obligation and no risk, so get started today!

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