I-130 Form: Step by Step

Here you will find a practical guide of how to fill out an I-130 Form and make a Family Petition.

It may have taken you a long time and much hard work, but you were finally able to obtain your Green Card, and now you are finally a permanent resident in the United States. Or maybe you were born in the US, spent some time working or studying abroad, you found ‘the one’, and got married. Can you come back home and bring your family with you? Absolutely.

The I-130 Form (download here) was specifically designed for this kind of cases. This form is the most important document that you will need in order to get a Letter of Residence based on marriage or family ties.

At Xavier Law Firm, immigration attorneys in Houston and Los Angeles, it will be our pleasure to help you. We will explain it to you ‘step by step’, and you will be able to easily fill out this form. So, let’s get started.

What is the I-130 Form and what is the eligibility criteria?

The main goal of the I-130 (Alien Relative Petition) is to allow the sponsor to show that you have a valid family relationship with the carrier of the residence card or citizen.

For example, if the beneficiary is the spouse of the sponsor, he or she must give a valid marriage certificate and proof that can be backed up with pictures, bank accounts, properties, etc. 

There are 2 possible kinds of sponsor who can petition their relatives and help them obtain Letter of Residence: American citizens (by birth or naturalization) and legal permanent residents (Green Card holders). It is very important to keep this in mind because there are significant differences.

If the sponsor is an American citizen, generally speaking, he can petition his/her spouse, children (regardless of age or marital status), parents, and siblings.

Permanent residents, on the other hand, can only petition their spouse, children under 21 years of age (or children over 21, as long as they are single). However, there are some exceptions to this rule. They following people are not eligible:

  • A child or a step brother/sister, if the adoption took place after the beneficiary turned 16 years of age.
  • A blood relative if the sponsor obtained his/her residence permit or citizenship by adoption. 
  • Step-relatives (step-parents, step-children) if the marriage that created the step-family bond took place after the son or daughter turned 18 years of age.
  • The current spouse, if the residence card was obtained by means of a previous marriage with an American citizen o a green card holder, unless the current sponsor has obtained his citizenship by naturalization, or he/she has been a citizen for 5 years or more.
  • A spouse, if they got married while the sponsor had an open case before an immigration court.
  • Any relative, if it is found that he/she got married with the sole purpose of becoming a permanent resident in the United States.

Now we have reviewed the criteria necessary for an Alien Relative Petition.  If you want more information about the actual process of how to bring your relatives to the United States, please visit this post. If you need information tailored to your own needs, here at Xavierl Law Firm, we would be happy to help you. We are immigration lawyers in Houston, TX and Los Angeles, CA.

The I-130… is the most important document that you will need in order to get a Letter of Residence based on marriage or family ties.

Guide to fill out the I-130 Form or Alien Relative Petition

Along with the I-130 Form you should attach the $535 government fee and all of the documents that prove that there is a valid family relationship between the sponsor and the beneficiary. For example:

  • Proof of the sponsor’s citizenship status (copy of his/her birth certificate, Letter of Naturalization or American Passport) or legal permanent resident status (copy of his/her Green Card).
  • Evidence of the marriage’s is legal validity (a marriage certificate with the names, wedding’s place, and date). 
  • Proof of the marriage’s is authenticity (pictures, joint bank accounts, joint insurance, joint lease agreement, etc.)
  • Proof of divorce (in case one of the spouses had beend previously married).
  • Evidence that will certify the spouse’s nationality (birth certificate and/or passport).
  • As for the rellatives who can benefit, documents that prove the family ties (birth certificates, legal adoption certificates, certificate of single status, etc.).

If any of the documents mentioned above is not available to you, then you must send alternative documents could be considered as secondary evidence. 

For example, if the birth certificate is somehow unavailable, you can request the government institution responsible for such affairs to give you a letter in which it estates that the required information is not available.  Or if the beneficiary is a son or a father, you can present church records, school documents, etc. that can certify the date, place of birth, and/or the names of the relatives involved.

For example, if you must prove that your parents are really your parents, your baptism certificate can be used, since it regularly states your date and place of birth and includes your parents’ full name.

Filling out the I-130 Form

The first page of the form at the top begins by saying “For USCIS use only.” Clearly do not write anything there.

Below you will see a part in which it says “START HERE”. That’s where you should start writing. In part 1, you will establish the relationship between the sponsor and the beneficiary. In point 1 you must mark your relationship with the beneficiary (spouse, father or mother, brother or sister and son or daughter).

Then, a question you should only answer if the beneficiary is your son or your father or mother. It refers to the relationship (if you are the biological son or father of the applicant within a marriage, outside a marriage, stepson / stepfather, or adopted son or father).

Then, there is a question that you should only answer if the beneficiary is your brother and if your ties are by means of adoption.

The fourth and final question on this section in the first part is whether you obtained your residency or citizenship status by adoption.

Then, go to part 2. You must first write (if applicable) your immigration registration number, your online USCIS account number and your social security number.

Then, in this order (in point 4 of part 2 and its subpoints) place your last name, first name and middle name (if you have one).

Go to the next page. There follows section two. Answer if you have ever used another name or nickname legally and / or publicly. Below you will be asked for information about your city, country and date of birth and about your sex. Then, physical email address: name of the recipient and complete address (street number, house / apartment number, city, state, zip code, country) and if that email address is the same one you live in.

If it is a different address to your address, in the next column you will write your or your current addresses. If this is not the case, go to the next page.

At point 18 write your current marriage date (if applicable). Remember that in English the month is placed first and then the day, so if your marriage was on July 26, 2019, it would be 07/26/2019. Point 19 is about the place of marriage: city, province / state and country. Then, from point 20 you must write the data of your current spouse and past spouses (if any): Surname, first name, middle name and date of end of marriage (if applicable).

Hence, go to point 24, which asks about your parents. From there you must indicate full name, date of birth, gender, and place of birth.

Starting from number 36 you will find some questions addressed directly to you. Choose whetherf you are a citizen or permanent resident.

Answer number 37 only if you are a citizen. Mark if you obtained your citizenship by birth, by your parents, or by naturalization.

In question 38 mark if you obtained a citizenship certificate, if so, you must provide the following information: certificate number, place and date of issue.

If you are a legal resident, start from question 36 through 40. Answer the type of admission you got, the date and place and if you obtained that status through marriage.

Then, you will need to provide information about your employment status during the last 5 years. If you are unemployed, write “Unemployed.” Otherwise, indicate the name of your employer or company, your address, the occupation you have, the time you have worked there.

In case you have had more than one job in the last 5 years, fill in the information about your last job before the current one.

Thus we move on to part 3 on the biographical information of the petitioner.

In the first question, select your race (if you are multiracial, select all that apply). Then your height (in feet and inches) and weight (in pounds). Then the color of your eyes and your hair.

You are already in part 4, which is about the information of the beneficiary relative. Indicate, if applicable, your immigration registration number, your online USCIS account number and your social security number. In point 4 you must indicate your full name and 5 names or aliases that have previously used.

On part 6, they request information about the beneficiary: city, country and date of birth, gender and if someone has ever filed a petition for the beneficiary. In item 11, the detailed information of your address, then at 12 the address where you plan to live in the United States. If it is the same as 11, just write SAME in item 12.a.

From 14 to 16, you should provide your landline, email address and cell phone. From 17 to 19 you have to talk about your marital status: if the beneficiary has been married, and how many times, what is his current civil status and the date of the current marriage, if applicable.

If married, answer item 20 regarding the place of marriage and 21 through 24 on the current and previous or previous spouse (if any) of the beneficiary: full name and end date of the marriage.

Then, enter information about the beneficiary’s direct family (spouse and children). Full name, relationship, date and place of birth.

From there go to point 45. Answer if the beneficiary has been in the United States. If so, at the next point select under what status it was or is in the United States. Then, write the arrival date, the deadline for the stay, passport or travel document number, issuing country and expiration date. Then, if applicable, write the detailed information of the beneficiary’s current employment from point 51.a.

Then, at point 53 ask if the beneficiary has bad immigration proceedings in the past. If yes, answer in what kind of processes (removal, deportation, detention or other). The city, state and date of the process.

If the beneficiary’s original language does not use the Latin alphabet, from the 57th to write their name and address in their native alphabet.

If the beneficiary is your spouse, write the exact address of the last address where they lived together from point 59.a.

If the beneficiary already lives in the United States and wishes to apply for a legal permanent resident to an adjustment status, respond in 61.a. and b, the city and state where you want to do it. If you do not live in the United States, at point 62.a., b and c you must establish the city and country from which you will apply and withdraw the visa (you must have a US consulate or embassy).

So, moving on to part 5. In question 1, you must answer if you have previously sponsored this beneficiary or some other foreigner. If yes, from point 1 to 4 give the personal data of the person and in 5, say the result (approved, rejected, withdrawn).

If you are requesting another family member in a different application, you need to write their full name (point 6) and your relationship with that family member (7). If you are more than one family member, do the same at points 8 and 9.

Now we move on to part 6. If you speak English and you filled out the application alone, check option 1.a., if you don’t speak English and an interpreter read the questions for you and wrote your answers, check option 1.b. and answer the language in which he read the questions  to you.

Even if you speak English, maybe all of this was a bit complicated for you, so maybe a family member or legal assistant authorized by you filled out part or all of the form following your instructions. In that case, check the box in point 2 and write your name.

From point 3 through 5 write your landline number, email and mobile phone. In point 6.a. sign the application by hand with pen and on 6.b., the date you signed.

We turn to part 7. If you used an interpreter, from point 1 through 6 you must write his/her full name, address and contact information (landline, email and cell phone number). Then the interpreter must certify that he is a fluent speaker of English and the language of the applicant and sign in item 7.a. and place the date on 7.b.

Now you can move on to part 8. Just fill it out in case someone helped you fill out the form. Indicate full name, full address and contact (landline, email and mobile).

If you are not an attorney or accredited representative, check box 7.a., if so, mark 7.b. and clarify whether or not the assistance extends beyond the writing of the return. In point 8 you must sign and write the date.

Part 9 should only be filled in if you need extra space in any section (for example, if you have had more than two jobs in the last 5 years, or the beneficiary has more than 4 children, they should use this additional space). Indicate your name in the indicated part. Indicate the page, part and point to which your answer refers and write the necessary information.

You have finished the form.


Filling out Form I-130 can be a tedious process, but with this practical and simple guide you already know how to do it perfectly. If you would like more information about the immigration process to the United States and the types of existing visa, do not hesitate to contact us at Xavier Law Firm: your trusted immigration lawyers

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