DIY an I-130 Family Petition: Building the Foundation for Family-Based Immigration

filing an I-130 marriage petition is the crucial first step in the family-based immigration process

If you’re a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident (green card holder) who wants to help your foreign relatives immigrate to the United States, filing an I-130 petition is the crucial first step in the family-based immigration process. The I-130, officially known as the “Petition for Alien Relative,” establishes the underlying relationship between you and your qualified relative. While this process can seem daunting, it’s possible to navigate it successfully on your own with careful preparation and attention to detail. Remember, this article does not constitute legal advice, and it’s essential to consult with an immigration attorney or check the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for the most up-to-date information before proceeding.

Understanding the I-130 Petition

The I-130 petition establishes the qualifying familial relationship between a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and their foreign relative. Once approved, it doesn’t grant your relative immediate legal status or a green card, but it is the foundation upon which further immigration steps are built. Here’s a step-by-step guide to filing an I-130 marriage petition yourself:

  1. Determine Eligibility: Before you begin, make sure you are eligible to sponsor your relative. As a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your spouse without numerical limitations. If you’re a permanent resident, there may be visa category limitations. Check USCIS guidelines for the most current eligibility criteria.
  2. Gather Required Documents:
    • A completed Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative).
    • A copy of your U.S. birth certificate, naturalization certificate, or U.S. passport to prove your citizenship or permanent resident status.
    • A copy of your marriage certificate.
    • A copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment records from previous marriages for both you and your spouse.
    • Proof of a bona fide marriage, such as joint bank account statements, photographs, or affidavits from friends and family.
    • Passport-sized photos of you and your spouse.
  3. Pay the Filing Fee: As of my knowledge cutoff date in September 2021, the filing fee for Form I-130 was $535. However, USCIS fees can change, so verify the current fee on the USCIS website.
  4. Complete the I-130 Form: Follow the instructions on the USCIS website to complete the I-130 form accurately. Make sure to include all necessary supporting documents.
  5. Mail Your Petition: Send your completed I-130 form, along with the required documents and the filing fee, to the appropriate USCIS address. Be sure to use a trackable mailing method to ensure safe delivery.
  6. Await USCIS Processing: USCIS will review your petition and may request additional evidence or documentation. Be prepared to respond promptly to any USCIS requests.
  7. Receive USCIS Notice of Decision: If your I-130 petition is approved, you’ll receive an Approval Notice. This confirms the establishment of the qualifying relationship between you and your spouse.
  8. Further Processing: Once the I-130 is approved, your relative may proceed with the next steps in the immigration process, such as applying for an immigrant visa or adjusting their status if they are already in the U.S.


Filing an I-130 marriage petition is the crucial first step in helping your foreign relative obtain legal immigration status in the United States. While it is possible to navigate this process on your own, it’s important to stay informed about the latest USCIS guidelines and procedures, as they may change over time. If you encounter difficulties or have questions during the process, consulting with an immigration attorney is a wise decision. Remember, the I-130 petition is just the beginning of the family-based immigration journey, and there are more steps ahead before your spouse can obtain a green card and permanent residency in the U.S.

USCIS Updates Policy Guidance on Naturalization Eligibility and Voter Registration through DMV

naturalization good moral character

On May 27, 2021, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) releases a policy update regarding applicants’ registration to vote through a state’s department of motor vehicles (DMV) or other state benefit application process and the effects on an applicant’s good moral character (GMC).

Applicants for naturalization must demonstrate GMC during the required period of time immediately before filing and up to the time they take the Oath of Allegiance. The applicable period of time depends on the section of the statute under which the applicant is eligible to naturalize. In general, the statutory period for GMC for an applicant filing under the general naturalization provision starts 5 years prior to the date of filing. The statutory period starts 3 years prior to the date of filing for certain spouses of U.S. citizens. USCIS may find that certain applicants have not met GMC requirements if they have unlawfully registered to vote or voted unlawfully in the United States.

The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), often referred to as the “Motor Voter” law, directs states to provide eligible voters with the opportunity to register to vote at the same time they apply for a driver’s license or identification (ID) card at the state’s motor vehicle authority. Consequently, many states have incorporated voter registration into the application for a new or renewed driver’s license or state ID card, and unlawfully registering to vote or falsely claiming U.S. citizenship during this process can adversely impact an applicant’s GMC. The NVRA applies to 44 states. Certain states (Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming) and territories (Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa) are exempt from the NVRA. Many naturalization applicants have unknowingly registered to vote when they renew their ID or driver’s license.

USCIS seeks to clarify the following:

  • USCIS will not penalize an applicant who unknowingly or unwilfully registers to vote.
  • USCIS does not consider an applicant to have unlawfully registered to vote if the applicant did not complete or sign the voter registration (including electronic signature, if applicable) in the motor vehicle or other state benefit application.
  • USCIS does not consider an applicant to have unlawfully claimed to be a U.S. citizen if the applicant did not affirmatively indicate that he or she is a U.S. citizen. However, if the applicant registered to vote, the applicant has the burden to prove that the registration form did not contain a question about whether the applicant is a U.S. citizen or that the applicant did not indicate, in response to the question, that he or she is a U.S. citizen.
  • An applicant may be considered to have falsely claimed to be a U.S. citizen for the purpose of registering to vote, and therefore may lack GMC because he or she committed an unlawful act in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1015(f), if the applicant knowingly answered “yes” to a question asking whether he or she was a U.S. citizen in order to register to vote. This may apply even if the applicant’s registration to vote was done simultaneously with the process of a driver’s license or ID card application, or an application for other state benefits.

When you renew your driver’s license, it’s always wise to read the forms before signing affirmatively.






对年龄在65岁或以上且已合法居住至少20年的申请人, 移民局将给予特殊考虑,选择10个测试问题(需要6个正确答案)。




  1. H-1B 或 H-2B 签证,以及随行的家属;
  2. 实习生,访问学者互惠生或暑期工作旅行计划的范围内的 J 签证,以及随行家属;和
  3. L 签证,以及随行家属。



新公告立即生效直到2020年12月31日到期。这项禁令实际意义是什么? 我们建议所有拿着 OPT的,已经申请 H-1b 的小伙伴们目前不要出入境。如果这中间有衔接失误必须要到境外 stamping,也需要重修考虑是否值得返校修课指导明年开春为止。








  1. 在到达美国之前途径至少两个国家,或者在到达美国之前已在另一个国家中停留了至少14天。
  2. 曾经没有缴纳税款,迟缴税款或没有向国税局报告任何收入。
  3. 在申请庇护之前在美国非法停留一年以上的。
  4. 该提案还包括其他几项庇护标准。指示移民法官在决定是否准予庇护时,将一个人的非法入境美国的行为作为“重大不利因素”。
  5. 该提案还为宣布如果庇护申请的申请表被发现为“恶意造假”, 该申请人将永远不会在美国获得任何其他移民福利。

由于这些原因被拒绝庇护的个人仍然有资格获得《禁止酷刑公约》以内规定的保护 (Convention Against Torture) 或者驱逐令的延缓(withholding of removal)。但是,该提案也使得这两种形式的的胜诉概率难上加难。



川普政府还希望重新定义因“特定社会成员身份” (social group)或“政治见解” (political opinion)而受到迫害的含义。许多曾是 MS-13 或其他跨国犯罪组织的受害者的中美洲人以前曾因此而获得庇护。拟议的提案将取消反对帮派或恐怖组织有关的“特定社会团体”的庇护资格。该提案还将彻底禁止基于性别的庇护申请。即使是逃离伊斯兰国 (ISIS)手中的性奴役的妇女也不得辩称她们“由于性别而受到迫害”。




第一, 在边境寻求庇护的个人将不能进入全面的移民法院诉讼程序。取而代之的是,他们只能获得较狭窄的“仅庇护”法院程序。在这些程序中,即使他们有资格获得庇护以外的另一种形式的救济,也将不允许他们申请。

第二,该提案将允许法官在不进行听证会的情况下直接拒绝庇护申请。目前,法官必须允许庇护申请人就其案件出庭作证。但是根据新规定,法官可以宣布申请人没有在申请中提供足够的证据,并拒绝某人提供证据。对于没有律师的人而言,这一变化将尤其有害。也就是说如果您的案子没有足够的其实证据, 您将失去面试条件,从而导致案子直接被拒。


从6月15日星期一开始,人们将有30天的时间对提案做出评论(在此评论)。 30天的期限结束后,政府会在制定最终提案前考虑这些评论。 由于此过程可能非常漫长,因此该规则预计最早要到秋天才能生效。 如果这些提案规则生效,它们将代表我们所知道的庇护制度的终结。

总统宣告: 美国将暂停某些中国学生和研究人员的 F 和 J 签证

川普总统周五 (5月29号)宣称说中国当局利用一些中国学生,主要是研究生和博士后研究人员,来收集美国的知识产权。 因此,与中国人民解放军有当前联系或曾经与中国人民解放军有联系的,来自中国的本科以上的中国学生或研究人员极有可能被中国当局利用,需引起特别关注。 鉴于上述情况,川普总统宣布从 2020年6月1日开始,美国国务卿和国土安全部将严格审批申请 F (学生)或 J (访问)签证进入美国学习研究的中国学生。美国国务卿和国土安全部将有60天的时间审查自己内部的规章制度并向总统提供建议。


这项宣告将会影响很多正在准备秋季返校以及已经拿到了录取通知书在等待签证的留学生。即使持有效签证在手的学生也有可能在入境时被海关询问而拦截。使馆也有可能在学生返校前取消学生签证。  我们建议学生们留心之前签证时所留下的联系方式,因为这将是使馆的主要交流渠道。

川普总统的法令不影响美国绿卡, 美国公民或绿卡的配偶,美国军队成员以及配偶或子女,以及寻求庇护,难民身份的人员。白宫的原文在此

Can’t Travel, Visa Expires, What Do I Do Now?

A lot of people stuck abroad have experienced panicking moments in the past two weeks when flights are cancelled and borders are closed due to the #COVID-19 shutdown. In March, 2020, the U.S. Department of State announced that immigrant (IV) and nonimmigrant visa (NIV) appointments at ALL Consulates are suspended due to coronavirus. Many countries are also restricting exiting and entering in order to control spread of the pandemic.
So what does this mean when my visa expires? 
These travel restrictions have made family unity and returning to work difficult, if not impossible. Employers are now in the dark with no specific return date for their valued employees and facing uncertainties as to their future needs. Since many visas have a maximum period allowed pursuant to regulation, consular officers do not have the authority to extend visa validity. However, the consular may be able to re-print a visa once travel becomes possible.
Consulates are able to re-issue a new visa provided that all supporting documents, such as police certificates, medical examinations, etc., have not expired. If the supporting documents have expired,  the applicant will be required to obtain new copies prior to the re-issuance of the new visa. Applicants will have to contact the consulate for the re-issuance and different consulate has different procedures. 
For people who are stuck in the U.S. either on valid visas or during grace period, but are not able to leave the U.S. to return to their home countries, options are also limited. Many have applied to extend or change their status using the Form I-539, but this also comes with a hefty fee. Others are banking on the fact that a brief overstay won’t be too problematic if it is limited to 180 days.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) has filed a complaint against USCIS calling for the immediate suspension of immigration benefit deadlines and the maintenance of status for nonimmigrants in the U.S. in light of the pandemic, urging USCIS to extend its filing deadlines so that lawfully present foreign nationals in the United States can maintain status during the pandemic.
While we wait for the outcome of this lawsuit, we urge everyone to stay tuned and take care of yourselves. 

COVID 19 – Unemployment Benefits for Immigrant Workers

immigrant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits and consequences on green cards

Question: Do I, as an immigrant, qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes me losing my job?

Answer: Yes, however, immigrant workers must satisfy the same requirements for #unemployment. You must be unemployed due to no fault of your own, and you must have earned enough wages or worked enough hours in your “base period” to qualify. If you are currently employed or if you quit, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.  If your employer offers sick leave to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, you cannot quit on your own volition to get unemployment benefits. If an employer shuts down operations temporarily and no work is available, you are eligible for unemployment.

Question: If I cannot go to work because I quarantined myself, can I get unemployment?

Answer: MaybeIf your employer allows you to work remotely and you choose not to accept that work, you are not qualify. If the employer requires you to stay home but did not offer work from home, then you might be eligible for benefits.

Question: How much is unemployment?

Answer: Depends on your state law and the reason why you cannot go to work. In addition, Pandemic Federal Unemployment Compensation  allows an additional  $600 on top of weekly unemployment benefits for up to four (4) months, not to exceed July 31, 2020.

Question: Does unemployment benefits hurt my green card #adjustment of status application in the future?

Answer: USCIS does not consider “unemployment” in the public charge inadmissibility determination because they are considered earned benefits through the person’s employment. Unemployment is a type of insurance that employers pay into. This isn’t taxpayer money, so it does not affect your green card.

Question: If I am undocumented, do I get #unemployment benefits?

Answer: If you are undocumented, chances are you do not have valid employment authorization or valid SSN, then you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Question: I applied for work authorization extension and have not yet received my new work card, can I get unemployment benefits?

Answer: If you have proof that you have applied for an extension, you might allowed to receive benefits. 

File unemployment with the Missouri Department of Labor here.

File unemployment with the Kansas Department of Labor here.

Ley de Libertad de Información

Para solicitar un registro de inmigración sobre usted, pruebe el nuevo Sistema de Registros de la Ley Libertad de Información. Hay una cantidad de registros de inmigración de USCIS disponibles a solicitud. Usted puede crear una cuenta de USCIS en línea para solicitar y recibir documentos digitalmente, y eliminar el tiempo y los gastos asociados con el envío de peticiones por correo.

Para comenzar, visite y cree una cuenta. Después de crear una cuenta de USCIS en línea y vincularla a su caso, podrá iniciar una sesión en el centro de entrega digital para ver y descargar los registros que solicitó.

Visite la página FOIA de CBP para solicitar registros de la Oficina de Aduanas y Protección Fronteriza de archivos de no extranjeros.

Para solicitar registros de que no sean de inmigración o un registro de inmigración en nombre de otra persona, debe usar una de las opciones de solicitudes por correo, fax o correo electrónico que se muestran a continuación. Esos tipos de procesos de peticiones aún no están en línea, ¡pero lo estarán pronto! También puede usar el Formulario G-639, pero no es obligatorio.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services
National Records Center, FOIA/PA Office
P.O. Box 648010
Lee’s Summit, MO 64064-8010

  • Si puede escanear la firma notarial o la firma realizada bajo pena de perjurio del sujeto del registro, adjúntelo a un correo electrónico y envíelo a
  • USCIS no recopila los números de Seguro Social en relación con las solicitudes FOIA.
  • FOIA es gratis. 

USCIS Service Fee Change Show 21 Percent Increase

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) proposes to adjust USCIS fees by an increase of 21 percent. Read the federal regulation here DHS claims that current USCIS fees leaves the agency a shortfall of $1.3 billion per year and the fee increase is necessary to recover the full operating costs.

USCIS says it has conducted small entity analysis based on a representative sample of the impacted population, The new rules introduce form changes as well as several new forms.

The most important forms with a fee increase are as follows:

Form No. Form Title Current Fee Proposed Fee Difference
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative $535 $555 $20
I-131 Application for Travel Document $575 $585 $10
I-131 Travel Document for an individual age 16 or older $135 $145 $10
I-131 I-131 Refugee Travel Document for a child under the age of 16 $105 $115 $10
I-192 Application for Advance Permission to Enter as Nonimmigrant $930/585 $1,415 $830/ $485
I-212 Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the U.S. After Deportation or Removal $930 $1,040 $110
I-290B Notice of Appeal or Motion $675 $705 $30
I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant $435 $455 $20
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status (certain applicants under the age of 14 years) $750 $1,120 $370
I-526 Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur $3,675 $4,015 $340
I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status $370 $400 $30
I-589 Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal $0 $50 $50
I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative $775 $810 $35
I-601 Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility $930 $985 $55
I-601A Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver $630 $960 $330
I-751 Petition to Remove the Conditions of Residence $595 $760 $165
I-765 Application for Employment Authorization $410 $490 $80
I-821D Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (Renewal) $0 $275 $275
I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition $465 $500 $35
I-829 Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions on Permanent Resident Status $3,750 $3,900 $150
I-924A Annual Certification of Regional Center $3,035 $4,470 $1,435
I-929 Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant $230 $1,515 $1,285
N-300 Application to File Declaration of Intention $270 $1,320 $1,050
N-336 Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings $700 $1,755 $1,055
N-400 Application for Naturalization $640 $1,170 $530
N-470 Application to Preserve Residence for Naturalization Purposes $355 $1,600 $1,245

This may prove to have significant financial consequences for several groups, including people who have previously been removed from the U.S. and is eligible to re-enter the U.S. (an $830 increase in fees), U visa family members (an $1,285 increase to qualify as U-1), people who seek to naturalize as U.S. citizens (a $530 increase) people whose naturalization have been denied and are seeking review (a $1,055 increase). We recommend that if you are eligible for the above filings, we need to get them in as soon as possible.

Forms that will becomes cheaper are as following:

Form No. Form Title Current Fee Proposed Fee Difference
I-90 Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card $455 $415 -$40
I-129F Petition for Alien Fiancé(e) $535 $520 -$15
I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker $700 $545 -$155
I-191 Application for Relief Under Former Section 212(c) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) $930 $800 -$130
I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status $1,140 $1,120 -$20
N-600 Application for Certification of Citizenship $1,170 $1,015 -$155
N-600K Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322 $1,170 $960 -$210
N-565 Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document $555 $545 -$10
  USCIS Immigrant Fee (consular processing green card fee) $220 $200 -$20
  Biometric Services Fee $85 $30 -$55
  Dishonored Payments (Returned Check Fee) $30 $0 -$30
I-910 Application for Civil Surgeon Designation $785 $650 -$135
I-817 Application for Family Unity Benefits $600 $590 -$10

The deceased fees, comparing to the increases, are minimal. In addition, DHS is proposing to separate Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, into several forms, including the following:

Form No. Form Title Current Fee Proposed Fee Difference
I-129CW (Proposed) Petition for a CNMI-Only Nonimmigrant Transitional Worker $460 $705 $245
I-129E&TN (Proposed) Application for Nonimmigrant Worker: E or TN Classification $460 $705 $245
I-129H1 (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-1 Classification $460 $560 $100
I-129H2A (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-2A Classification $460 $860 (named); $425 (unnamed) $400 (named)
I-129H2B (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-2B Classification $460 $725 (named); $395 (unnamed) $265 (named)
I-129L (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: L Classification $460 $815 $355
I-129MISC (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: H-3, P, Q, or R Classification $460 $705 $245
I-129O (Proposed) Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker: O Classification $460 $715 $255

If you have any reliefs pending and need assistance, we recommend everyone take the opportunities now.