How Do I Fill Out Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative?

This article will walk you through Form I-130 explaining the nuances depending on your status and your relationship to your foreign relative.

Last updated on December 20th, 2018

Editor’s Note: Due to the ever-changing landscape of immigration law, this article is now out of date. However, we will keep a copy of the original up on our site for two reasons.

First, as a reminder of how the process used to work. Second, because the general advice it provides is still relevant even to the current, updated form.

You can learn more about the I-130 by reading the USCIS information page. If you have any further questions about the form or the family immigration process, feel free to contact us or schedule an appointment with one of our experienced immigration attorneys.

Other Resources:

The I-130 is often the first step for an individual to get a green card. It is the form that a United States citizen, or in some cases a lawful permanent resident (“LPR”), can file on behalf of certain relatives.

This article will walk you through Form I-130 explaining the nuances depending on your status and your relationship to your foreign relative.

General Information

  • Form I-130 can be found here.  It is a rather straightforward two page form.
  • The form is to be filled out by the U.S. citizen or resident relative for the benefit of the foreign relative.
  • The filing fee is $420 (USD) and it is to be paid by check or money order payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
  • The form will need to be filed at the Chicago or the Phoenix Lockbox, depending on where you live and whether you are also filing Form I-485. Visit USCIS for details.
  • Who you may petition for depends on your status.
    • If you are a U.S. citizen, then you can petition for your spouse, children, parents, and siblings.
    • If you are a legal permanent resident, then you may petition only for your spouse and unmarried children.
    • For more detailed information, see our article “Who Can Apply For a Green Card?

Step 1: Fill out Part A.

Part A of Form I-130 simply asks you about your relationship with the relative who you are petitioning to enter the U.S.

  1. Is the relative who is trying to enter the U.S. your spouse, parent, brother, sister, or child?
    • If so, check the appropriate box.
    • If not, this form is not for you.
  2. Are you related to the foreign relative by adoption?
  3. Did you gain permanent residence through adoption?

Step 2: Fill out Part B.

Part B of the form is asking for information about you, the U.S. petitioner.

  1. What is your full name?
    • Note: USCIS wants you to list your Family (“Last”) Name in ALL CAPS and then your First and Middle Name with normal capitalization (Example: OBAMA Barack Hussein)

For questions 2-12, simply input the requested information. If there is something that does not apply to you, then simply type N/A or NONE in the relevant space–do not leave blanks. For example, on questions 11 and 12 type N/A if you have no prior marriages.

  1. If you are a U.S. citizen, then you will answer question 13 and write N/A in question 14.
    1. You will need you naturalization certificate handy so you can copy down the number, the date of issuances, and the place of issuance.
    2. Also, you will need to make a copy of it to submit as evidence with the Form I-130.
  2. If you are a lawful permanent resident, then you will write N/A in question 13 and answer question 14.
    1. If you adjusted status inside the U.S., then you will need to list the date and the place of your adjustment to LPR and the class of such admission.
    2. If you entered the U.S. with a green card, then you will need to list the Date and Place of you admission for LPR and the class of such admission.

Step 3: Fill out Part C

Part C asks for information about your foreign relative. Questions 1-12 are the same as in Part B, so simply gather the same information from the foreign relative you are petitioning for. We will pick up now with Part C, Question 13.

  1. Has your relative ever been in the United States?
  2. If your relative is currently in the U.S., then you must note:
    • how they entered the United States (e.g. under visa waiver program, as a visitor (B-1 or B-2 visa), as a student (F-1 visa), without inspection);
      • Note: if your relative entered the U.S. without inspection, it is very important that you speak with an immigration attorney. The process may be more complicated for illegal entrants.
    • their I-94 Arrival Departure Record number and date they arrived; and
    • their date their authorized stay expired or will expire.
      • Note: again, you should work with an immigration attorney if your relative’s visa has already expired because there may be additional steps for visa over-stayers.
  1. Does your relative have a present employer in his or her home country?
    • If so list the employer’s/company’s name and address as well as the date the employment began.
  2. Has your relative ever been in immigration proceedings?
    • If not, simply check “No” and move on.
    • If they have, you must check “Yes” and list where the proceedings were held, when the proceedings were held, and whether the proceedings resulted in Removal, Exclusion, Deportation, Rescission, or Judicial Proceedings.
  3. Here, you must list all your relative’s current spouses and children.
    • You will need each person’s name, date of birth, and country of birth.
      • If you run out of room on the space provided in the form, then you may continue on an additional sheet of paper. Simply label the paper as an addendum to the Form I-130 and list the Part and Question number with your name and signature on the page.
  1. Where does your relative intend to live in the U.S.?
  2. What is your relatives address and phone number abroad?
  3. If your relative’s native alphabet is other than Roman letters, then you will need to write their name and address abroad in the native alphabet. Otherwise, you may simply write N/A and move on.
    • Examples of languages with Roman letters in the alphabet are: English, Spanish, French, and German.
    • Examples of language with non-Roman letters in their alphabet are: Chinese, Arabic, and Japanese.
  4. If you are filing for your spouse, then you must list the last address at which the two of you lived together and the date range you lived there. If you are not filing for your spouse, then simply write N/A in the box.
  5. Question 22 is only applicable if your relative is already in the United States and is applying for adjustment of status.
    • If your relative is eligible to adjust status while remaining in the U.S., then write, in the two left side boxes, the city and state at which the USCIS office is located where he or she will apply for permanent residency.
    • If your relative is not eligible to adjust status while remaining in the U.S., then write in the two right side boxes the city and country of the American consular post where he or she will apply for the visa abroad.
    • If you are unsure whether you relative is eligible to adjust status while in the United States, consider speaking with an immigration attorney.

Step 4: Fill out Part D

  1. If you are filing on behalf of more than one relative, then you must file for each one separately. Question 1 is simply asking you to list all the other relatives you are filing an I-130 for. If you are filing other I-130’s, then list the other relative’s name and relationship to you—otherwise, simply write in N/A.
  2. If you have ever previously filed an I-130 (i.e. submitted the form to USCIS) for anyone—including the relative you are currently petitioning for—then check yes in question 2 and give the relative’s name, the place and the date of where you filed the I-130, and the result of the prior petition. If you have not, then simply check “No.”

Step 5: Sign Part E and (if applicable) Part F.

Part E is where you simply sign your name and date the application. If you have a phone number you are to list in the box provided. If you do not, then simply write N/A.

Part F is only used if someone other than yourself completed the form (e.g. an attorney). They will simply need to sign and list the information asked for under this part.

Submitting the I-130

You have finally filled out the form. Now you must put together the application. The application will consist of the Form I-130, all evidence in support of the I-130, and the $420 filing fee.

What evidence must you submit?

Generally, any evidence that supports any item answered in the form is good evidence. For instance, if you are a naturalized citizen, then you will want to submit a copy of your certificate of naturalization.

At a minimum, you should submit the following evidence with a Form I-130:

Proof of Status as a Citizen or LPR:

  • A birth certificate if you were born in the U.S.;
  • A naturalization certificate if you are naturalized citizen of the U.S.;
  • A copy of your unexpired U.S. passport or an original statement form a U.S> consular officer verifying that you are a U.S. citizen with a valid passport; or
  • If you are a LPR, then submit a copy of the front and back of your permanent resident card. If you have not yet received your card, then submit copies of your passport biographic page and the page showing admission as a permanent resident, or any other evidence issues by USCIS.

Proof of Family Relationship:

If you are filing for your spouse:

  • A copy of your marriage certificate;
  • Copies of document showing that all prior marriages were legally terminated, if you or your spouse were previously married (i.e. if in Form I-130 you answered Part B Question 11 or Part C Question 11 with anything other than N/A, then submit this evidence of termination);
  • A passport-style color photograph of yourself and one of your spouse that was taken within 30 days of the date you filed the I-130. You should write on the back of each photograph in a pencil or felt pen the name and alien registration number (if applicable) of the person photographed; AND
  • A completed and signed Form G-325A for yourself and one for your spouse.

In addition to the required evidence listed above, you will want to submit evidence that your and your spouse are in a bona fide marriage, so submit any of the following:

  • Documentation showing joint ownership of property (e.g. joint bank account, land deeds holding land as joint tenants or tenants by the entirety, etc.);
  • A lease showing join tenancy of a common residence;
  • Birth certificates of children born to you and petitioner and your spouse together;
  • Affidavits sworn to by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the material relationship; or
  • Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing martial union.

If you are filing for a child and you are the mother, then submit a copy of the child’s birth certificate showing your name and the name of the child.

If you are filing for a child and you’re the father, then submit a copy of the child’s birth certificate showing both parent’s names and your marriage certificate to the mother.

  • If the child for whom you are petitioning as their father was born out of wedlock, then
    • If the child was not legitimated before the age or 18 years old, you must file your petition with copies of evidence that a bona fide parent-child relationship existed between you and the child before the child reached 21 years old (e.g. you lived with the child, supported the child emotionally and financially, or showed parental interest in the child’s welfare).

If you are filing for a sibling, then submit a copy of your birth certificate and a copy of your sibling’s birth certificate showing that you have at least one common parent.

  • If you and your sibling have the same father, but have different mothers, then you should also submit a copy of your father’s marriage certificates for both your and your sibling’s mother and evidence that his prior marriage was terminated legally.

If you are filing for you mother, then submit a copy of your birth certificate showing your and your mother’s name.

If you are filing for your father, then submit a copy of your birth certificate showing the names of both parents and a marriage certificate showing that your father was married to your mother before you were born. Also, include any documents showing that all prior marriages of either your mother or father were legally terminated.

If you are filing for a stepparent or a stepchild, then you must file your petition with

  • a copy of the marriage certificate of the stepparent to the child’s natural parent showing that the marriage occurred before the child’s 18th birthday,
  • copies of documents show in that nay prior marriages were legally terminated, and
  • the stepchild’s birth certificate.

If you are filing for an adoptive parent or an adoptive child, then you must submit a copy of the adoption decree showing that the adoption took place before the child turned 16.

  • Note: if the child you are filing for was the sibling of a child you already adopted, then you must submit a copy of the adoption decree showing that the adoption of the sibling took place before his or her 18th

Overcoming obstacles.

What if your name has changed and so the documents you are submitting do not reflect your new name?

In this case, if either you or the person who you are filing for is using a name other than the one shown on the relevant documents, then include as evidence copies of the legal documents that show your change in name (e.g. court orders, adoption decrees, or marriage certificates).

What if any of the documents required above are not available?

In this case, you will need to acquire and submit a statement from the appropriate civil authority certifying that the document is not available and to submit secondary evidence, such as:

  • Church records
  • School records
  • Census records
  • Affidavits—written statements sworn to by two persons who were living at the time and who have personal knowledge of the event you are trying to prove (e.g. place of your birth, or your marriage).


While the I-130 can be a straightforward form, the process of putting together the entire application can be complicated. The process can run much more smoothly if you and your foreign relative consult with an experience immigration attorney. If you finish putting your application together but are concerned with whether you did everything right, consider having it reviewed by an attorney before you send it to USCIS.

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