I-130 Instructions: How to Complete Form I-130 in the U.S.

Posted by Frank Gogol

The Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is a commonly used form and one of the most essential documents in a relative’s immigration process. Even though there are many Form I-130 instructions and Form I-130 guides on how to complete the Form I-130, not all of them give you proper insight into the purpose of the questions. They also don’t always reveal how your answers might affect your application.

Below we take a closer look at the Form I-130 instructions to help you make a successful petition for your relative to join you in the U.S. 

Table of Contents

I-130 Instructions

Here is a breakdown of the different parts of the Form I-130 and some tips for when you complete them. 

Part 1: Relationship

The first step is to select the type of relative you are petitioning for. If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor any of the listed relatives being spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child. However, if you are a lawful permanent resident, you can only petition for a spouse or unmarried child. 

You will also need to select the type of relationship you have with your relative. Is it a biological, adoptive, or stepchild/stepparent relationship? If you have a step or adoptive relationship, you will have to provide additional documents to prove the relationship. 

If you, as the petitioner, gained permanent residence through adoption (meaning you immigrated to the U.S. before becoming a citizen), you have to select “Yes” at question 4 of part 1. 

Part 2: Information About the Petitioner

This is where you provide more information about yourself. If you are now a U.S. citizen, you don’t have to provide an Alien Registration Number even if you had one before. It is also very likely you don’t have a United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) online account number. If this is the case, simply write N/A.

If you are petitioning for your spouse, keep in mind your marital information will get extra attention. For example, if you or your spouse had previously been married, you will need to prove the previous marriage ended legally through divorce, annulment, or death, for example.

Also, keep in mind if you got your lawful permanent resident status through a previous marriage, you can’t file a Form I-130 for your current spouse unless:

  • Your last marriage ended due to your previous spouse’s death, or
  • 5 years have passed since you became a lawful permanent resident. 

If none of these apply, you could possibly still petition for your spouse if you can clearly and convincingly show your previous marriage was not entered into just to evade immigration laws. 

Remember to let the USCIS know if the mailing address you provide here changes. They will be mailing important documents to the mailing address provided. 

Part 3: Biographic Information

In part 3, you have to provide your biographical information. These questions are pretty straightforward. However, you will notice that Hispanic/Latino is only an option for ethnicity and not race. The USCIS does not define Hispanic/Latino as a race. If you are from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, South or Central America, or any other Spanish culture or origin, you must choose one of the race options provided and which you most closely identify with. There is no wrong answer here, so select the race you feel most comfortable with. 

Part 4: Information About Beneficiary

This is where you provide more detailed information about the relative you are petitioning for. If your relative doesn’t have a USCIS online account number or social security number, you can leave these fields blank or write N/A. 

Here you also have an opportunity to list your relative’s spouse and children. This includes only unmarried children under age 21. Make sure you include all children, even if they don’t plan to immigrate with your relative. 

If your relative’s spouse or children plan to immigrate to the U.S., you might not have to file a separate Form I-130 for them as well. They could possibly qualify as “derivative beneficiaries.” 

This will be the case where the relative you are applying for is your:

  • Married son or daughter (if you are a U.S. citizen)
  • Brother or sister (if you are a U.S. citizen)
  • Spouse (if you are a lawful permanent resident)
  • Unmarried child under 21 (if you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident).

Again, the USCIS is always on the lookout for marriage or other types of visa fraud. So, you have to provide detailed information about any of your relative’s previous applications and marriages.

Part 5: Other Information

This part reverts back to questions about you. If you have ever previously filed a petition for this beneficiary or someone else, you have to think back and review those petitions. Make sure the facts you provide in this petition is consistent with the information provided there. This is especially important if your previous Form I-130 petition was denied. Understand why the previous petition was rejected and how this could affect your petition now. If you see any problems, consult an immigration lawyer.

Also, remember if you’ve previously applied for a different spouse for an immigration benefit, the USCIS might suspect marriage fraud. Your application will probably get a lot more scrutiny.  

Part 6: Petitioner’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature

Here you must confirm you understand the questions and that the information you provided is correct. Alternatively, if you made use of an interpreter, you have to indicate it here. Make sure you provide the correct and most up to date contact information in this section. 

Part 7: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature

It’s quite common to use an interpreter if you aren’t comfortable to complete a legal form in English. If you choose to use an interpreter, your interpreter must fill out this section and provide their contact information.

By signing here, your interpreter is certifying:

  • They are fluent in English, and the language used to interpret to you
  • They have read every question and instruction on the form, and your answers to each question to you
  • You understood each and every instruction, question, and answer to each question.

Part 8: Preparer’s Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature

If you made use of a lawyer or agency to assist you in completing the form, their information must be provided in part 8. If no one assisted you in preparing the form, you could write N/A. Keep in mind advice from a friend or things like typing assistance doesn’t count as using a preparer for the purposes of this part. You don’t have to provide their details here.

Part 9: Additional Information

Part 9 provides additional space if you need it to provide more information for some of your answers. Make sure it is clear what question and section the additional information relates to.

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Ensuring a successful petition for your relative starts with properly and correctly completing the Form I-130. We hope these Form I-130 instructions gave you some extra insight and help you see your relative’s petition approved!

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