Understanding Form I-130 and Form I-485: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (LPR) looking to sponsor a family member for a green card, you may have come across the terms Form I-130 and Form I-485. These two forms are essential in the process of obtaining a green card through family sponsorship. In this article, we will break down the purpose and requirements of Form I-130 and Form I-485, and guide you through the steps of completing them.

What is Form I-130?

Form I-130, also known as the “Petition for Alien Relative,” is the first step in the family-based green card application process. This form is used by U.S. citizens and LPRs to establish a family relationship with a foreign national who wishes to immigrate to the United States. The purpose of Form I-130 is to prove the legitimacy of the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, and to establish the eligibility of the beneficiary for a green card.

Who can file Form I-130?

As mentioned earlier, both U.S. citizens and LPRs can file Form I-130. However, the eligibility requirements differ for each category.

  • U.S. citizens: If you are a U.S. citizen, you can file Form I-130 for your spouse, children, parents, and siblings.
  • LPRs: If you are an LPR, you can only file Form I-130 for your spouse and unmarried children.

What documents are needed for Form I-130?

When filing Form I-130, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship with the beneficiary. This can include:

  • Marriage certificate (for a spouse)
  • Birth certificates (for children)
  • Proof of legal status (for LPRs)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (for U.S. citizens)
  • Any other relevant documents that prove the legitimacy of the relationship

What is Form I-485?

Form I-485, also known as the “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status,” is the second step in the family-based green card application process. This form is used to apply for a green card for the beneficiary once the Form I-130 has been approved. The purpose of Form I-485 is to adjust the status of the beneficiary from a non-immigrant to a lawful permanent resident.

Who can file Form I-485?

Only beneficiaries who are physically present in the United States can file Form I-485. Additionally, the beneficiary must have a current priority date (the date when the Form I-130 was filed) and a visa number must be available for their category.

What documents are needed for Form I-485?

When filing Form I-485, you will need to provide evidence of your eligibility for a green card. This can include:

  • Form I-130 approval notice
  • Birth certificates (for children)
  • Marriage certificate (for a spouse)
  • Proof of legal status (for LPRs)
  • Proof of U.S. citizenship (for U.S. citizens)
  • Medical examination report
  • Any other relevant documents that prove your eligibility for a green card

How to Complete Form I-130 and Form I-485?

Now that you understand the purpose and requirements of Form I-130 and Form I-485, let’s walk through the steps of completing these forms.

  1. Gather the necessary documents: Before starting the forms, make sure you have all the required documents ready. This will save you time and ensure that you have all the necessary information at hand.
  2. Fill out the forms: Both Form I-130 and Form I-485 can be completed online or by mail. If you choose to file online, you will need to create an account on the USCIS website. If you choose to file by mail, you can download the forms from the USCIS website and fill them out manually.
  3. Pay the filing fees: The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535, and the filing fee for Form I-485 is $1,140 (including the biometrics fee). If you are unable to pay the fees, you may be eligible for a fee waiver.
  4. Submit the forms: Once you have completed the forms and paid the fees, you can submit them to the USCIS. If you file online, you can submit the forms electronically. If you file by mail, you will need to send the forms and supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS lockbox facility.
  5. Wait for a decision: After submitting the forms, you will receive a receipt notice from the USCIS. This notice will contain your case number, which you can use to track the status of your application. The USCIS will then review your forms and supporting documents and make a decision.

Conclusion

Form I-130 and Form I-485 are essential forms in the family-based green card application process. Understanding their purpose and requirements is crucial for a successful application. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can complete these forms accurately and efficiently, and hopefully, reunite with your loved ones in the United States.

FAQs

Q: Can I file Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time? A: No, you can only file Form I-485 once your Form I-130 has been approved. Q: How long does it take to process Form I-130 and Form I-485? A: The processing time for these forms can vary depending on the USCIS workload and other factors. On average, it can take 7-12 months for Form I-130 and 8-14 months for Form I-485 to be processed. Q: Can I file Form I-130 and Form I-485 for my same-sex spouse? A: Yes, same-sex spouses are eligible for family-based green cards, as long as the marriage is legally recognized in the country where it took place.


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