Stage 1: I-130 Petition

Stage 2: I-485 or DS-260 Consular Processing

Stage 3: The Interview

Stage 1: I-130 Petition

Most family immigration begins by filing the I-130 application with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The I-130 can be filed by qualifying petitioner on behalf of the benefiting spouse. The qualifying relationships include a U.S. Citizen or LPR spouse petitioning for their benefiting spouse, U.S. Citizen children over 21+ petitioning for their Mother or Father, U.S. Citizen or LPR parent petitioning for their Minor Children (under 21), U.S. Citizen sibling applications or even U.S. Citizen Step-Parent applications for Minor Step-Children so long as the Step-Parent married the non U.S. spouse prior to the benefiting child turning the age of eighteen (18) years old.  Note, that the age of minor children can be frozen in time if the child qualifies under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA).

Stage 2: I-485 or DS-260 Consular Processing

2A. If the beneficiary is inside the United States, then the goal is to file the I-485 application for Adjustment of Status (AOS). In some cases the I-130 may be filed concurrently with the I-485 application if the beneficiary immediately qualifies for Adjustment of Status (AOS). In cases where the benefiting alien is not present in the United States, the application will then be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). You can think of NVC, like a bridge between USCIS and the U.S. Embassy abroad. Upon receipt of the file the by the U.S. Embassy the beneficiary may then proceed to file the DS-260 to receive an immigrant visa to the United States. Upon receipt of an immigrant visa the beneficiary will enter the United States and then proceed to receive a permanent resident card or green card.

2B. Other forms will be necessary in order to qualify the I-485 or DS-260. The petitioner and/or other joint sponsor will be required to file form I-864 on behalf the beneficiary to assure that the beneficiary will not become a public charge. A “public charge” is a person who is likely to need a U.S. benefit such as food stamps, Medicaid, Medicare or government assistance program that the foreign alien is not otherwise qualified to receive. In order to satisfy the requirements of the I-864, the Petitioner or Joint Sponsors must prove that his or her income is sufficient to satisfy the national poverty guidelines defined by USCIS at I-864P. To support this proposition, the Petitioner or Joint Sponsor will be required to show three years of income, with the prior year tax return attached, in addition to any other evidence that tends to prove ownership of assets or money in the bank (i.e. bank statements). In addition to the I-864 requirements, the alien will be required to complete medical examination form I-693 to ensure that the alien is not carrying any communicable diseases that may be brought by them to the United States. The I-693 is completed by a medical doctor and must be delivered to USCIS or the Embassy in an envelope sealed by the medical doctor. Last but not least, if the beneficiary is inside the United States, he or she may qualify to apply for the I-765 work permit application, this will allow the beneficiary to work and make a living while they wait for the I-485 to be processed. Also note, that if the beneficiary is allowed to lawfully produce income pursuant to an approved I-765, they may include their own income to qualify under the I-864.

Special Note, if the benefiting alien is applying from inside the United States, and did not enter lawfully, this certainly will require the alien to file a waiver application most often on the I-601 or I601A application. This also may apply if the alien is outside the U.S. and is inadmissible to the U.S. due to prior unlawful entry or overstay, prior criminal acts, health related or other grounds of inadmissibility.

Stage 3: The Interview

After all documents are processed as stated above, USCIS or the U.S. Embassy abroad will schedule an interview with the beneficiary. If the interview is with USCIS, the petitioning relative will be required to appear. The same may not be required by the U.S. Embassy because they understand that the Petitioner may still be inside the United States. A typical interview is to confirm the relationship between the Petitioner and Beneficiary, this is most common in marriage cases. Original documentation will be required at the interview such as Passport, Driver License or Government ID Card, Birth Certificates, Marriage Certificates, and any other government issued identification.  If your survived these three stages, congratulations you are now Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) and Welcome to the United States!