The I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is a critical step for Iranian citizens looking to bring their family members to the United States. This comprehensive guide will give you everything you need to know about the I-130 petition, including eligibility requirements, necessary documentation, and filing processes. By understanding the intricacies of the I-130 petition, Iranian applicants can better navigate the complexities of U.S. immigration law and increase their chances of a successful outcome.
Understanding the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative
The I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is a form used by U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) to establish a qualifying relationship with a foreign relative who wishes to immigrate to the United States. The purpose of the I-130 petition is to demonstrate that a legitimate familial connection exists, making the foreign relative eligible for family-based immigration.
Who Can File an I-130 Petition?
U.S. citizens and LPRs (green card holders) can file an I-130 petition on behalf of their foreign relatives. The eligible relatives include:
I-130 Petition Requirements for Iranian Applicants
The requirements for the I-130 petition are generally the same for applicants from all countries, including Iran. However, Iranian applicants may face additional scrutiny due to the tense political climate between the United States and Iran. Iranian applicants must submit complete and accurate documentation to avoid delays or denials. Some crucial documents include:
The I-130 Petition Process for Iranian Applicants
Once the I-130 petition is completed and the required documentation is gathered, the U.S. citizen or LPR petitioner must file online or mail the package to the appropriate U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office. After USCIS receives the petition, they will issue a receipt notice to the petitioner, which contains the case number and the estimated processing time.
USCIS will then review the petition and assess whether the familial relationship is genuine. If the agency requires additional information or documentation, it will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) to the petitioner. Iranian applicants should respond promptly and thoroughly to any RFEs, as failure to do so may result in the denial of the petition.
Upon approval of the I-130 petition, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will collect additional forms and fees from both the petitioner and the beneficiary. The NVC will also assign a case number and invoice ID, which will be used to access the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) for submitting required documents online.
Embassy Process after the National Visa Center for Iranian Applicants
Once the NVC has reviewed the submitted documents and determined that the case is documentarily complete, it will schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the beneficiary's home country. For Iranian applicants, this interview typically takes place in one of three embassies outside of Iran due to the absence of a U.S. embassy in Iran: the U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, the U.S. Embassy in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, or the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, Armenia.
During the interview, the consular officer will assess the beneficiary's eligibility for a family-based immigrant visa. The officer will verify the authenticity of the submitted documents, confirm the existence of the claimed familial relationship, and determine whether the beneficiary is admissible to the United States. Iranian applicants should be prepared to answer questions about their relationship with the petitioner and their intentions for immigrating to the United States.
Post-Interview Steps and Adjustment of Status
After the embassy interview, there are three possible outcomes for Iranians: approval, rejection, or additional background checks called administrative processing. If the consular officer approves the immigrant visa, the beneficiary will receive a visa packet and an immigrant visa stamped in their passport. The beneficiary must then pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee online before traveling to the United States. Upon arrival in the U.S., the beneficiary will be admitted as a lawful permanent resident, and their green card will be mailed to their U.S. address.
On the other hand, It is common for Iranian applicants to be subject to additional background checks after their embassy interview. Administrative processing does not have any timeline or estimated wait times. Many times interviewing officers will give an estimate such as “three weeks” or “a few days.” Still, these are not guarantees, and the administrative processing can be pending for several months, despite the estimate provided by the officer. On the embassy’s website, they often state that applicants should not follow up about their case within the first six months of administrative processing. If your case becomes subject to administrative processing, contact us, and we can help you navigate your options and provide strategies for moving the case again. Here at ImmigraTrust Law, we have worked with hundreds of clients stuck in administrative processing, and we can help you navigate your options and to use the necessary strategies to get your case results.
If Your Relative is Already in the United States
Please note that this article has focused on filing the I-130 for a relative outside of the United States. Iranian beneficiaries already in the United States under a non-immigrant visa may be eligible to file an I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status concurrently with the I-130 petition. This process, known as "adjustment of status," allows the beneficiary to obtain their green card without leaving the United States. However, it is essential to consult with an immigration attorney to determine eligibility and avoid potential pitfalls.
Navigating the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative process can be complex and challenging for Iranian applicants due to the unique geopolitical circumstances and heightened scrutiny. Iranian applicants can increase their chances of successfully bringing their loved ones to the United States by understanding the requirements, gathering the necessary documentation, and following the prescribed processes. It is highly recommended that Iranian applicants consult with an experienced immigration attorney to ensure the smoothest possible process and the best possible outcome.
--Najmeh Mahmoudjafari, Esq.
Najmeh is the Founder and Lead Immigration Attorney at ImmigraTrust Law (www.ImmigraTrust.com), an immigration law practice in Orange County, California, representing individual and corporate clients in all 50 U.S. States and internationally. Najmeh can be reached at Najmeh@ImmigraTrust.com.
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DISCLAIMER: This article is for general information purposes only. It is not intended and does not constitute legal advice. This article does not create an attorney/client relationship and does not provide an attorney/client privilege. For legal advice about your specific case, please contact an attorney.
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