So you want to know the steps to filing a petition for a relative immigrant in or outside the United States.
1. The first step to gaining permanent residence for any foreign relative of a U.S. citizen is to file a petition for an alien fiancé/relative to USCIS.
- If you are engaged, you need to file form I-129F (petition for alien fiancé) – $455 (timelines).
- If you are already married, you need to file form I-130 (petition for alien relative) – $355 (timelines)
- CR-1: marriage between immigrant, and USC spouse less than two years must file this. It is a Conditional Residence green card that must be removed in two years.
- IR-1: Immediate Relative, marriage between immigrant & USC spouse for more than two years must file this. It has no limit.
- Choice of Agent form (DS-3032)
- Affidavit of Support bill
- Affidavit of Support (form I-864)
- Visa application (Part I of DS-230)*ILLEGAL (EWI) IMMIGRANTS*
- Adjustment of Status to permanent residence(form I-485)*VISA HOLDING IMMIGRANTS*
- VISA HOLDING IMMIGRANTS* After all the above paperwork is completed, and mailed back, you will wait 5-6 months for an appointment at a local USCIS state office. You may have to wait for these letters to arrive anywhere from 1-2 months before the scheduled interview date.
- The completed case will be forwarded from the USCIS to the National Visa Center to be processed where you will receive the exact forms to refill out for the process except you will receive a visa application. After mailing, you will have to wait for an appointment 8-12 months at the foreign consulate.
4. You need to do the following before the visa interview:
- Medical exam: All spousal applicants are required to get a medical exam and a number of vaccinations before their visa interview. Fiancé intending immigrants can wait until they enter the U.S. and file for adjustment of status. After the exam, the intending immigrant will be given the results from the exam which need to be taken (still sealed) to the interview, usually the next business day.
- In Ciudad Juarez (CDJ), where all Mexican applicants have their interviews, there are only two approved clinics that administer the exams.
- In the United States, Mexican applicants will be mailed a list of approved doctors for the medical exam by USCIS.
5. Do the visa interview:
- The officer at the visa interview in Cuidad Juarez, after asking a few questions about the immigrant’s immigration history and relationship to his/her USC spouse, will inform them and determine whether they are eligible for the I-601 waiver. The same for the Adjustment of Status applicant, USCIS will determine whether the immigrant is eligible for the AOS.
- ILLEGALS: The only way to pursue this process for a person who EWI and was unlawfully present for more than 180 days after their 18th birthday is for him/her to be married to or eventually marry a USC. You still need to complete this step one of the process to file a petition for them.
- It is important during this process that the USC petitioner or a combination of the USC and others have enough income to meet 125% of the poverty line. If the USC petitioner does not earn enough money to meet 125% of the poverty for the immigrant and his/her dependents, you must find a co-sponsor who can make up the difference.
- DO NOT wait for the USCIS, or ESPECIALLY the Consulate to mail a letter for your interview. You the petitioner, or immigrant may call to schedule it at: 900-476-1212 from the United States or 01-900-849-49-49 from Mexico). To use a credit card, call 800-919-1754 from the United States or 01-477-788-70-70 from Mexico. Have all necessary information on hand when scheduling appointment.
- MEDICAL APPOINTMENT IN CIUDAD JUAREZ: There have been many reports of the doctors and nurses at the clinics in CDJ asking immigration and criminal history-related questions. While there is concern about these practices, it is advised to answer all questions truthfully. They are also trying to determine if an immigrant might be ineligible on grounds that they are a drug user or abuse alcohol. DO NOT admit to even experimentation with marijuana or occasional use of any drug can result in a three-year bar where NO waiver can be filed and the immigrant HAS to remain outside the United States.
- If the immigrant overstayed in the United States illegally. The Consulate will tell you to file the I-601 waiver of inadmissibility for the immigrant if they qualify.
- Illegal immigrants are NOT eligible for in-country adjustment of status (the process undertaken by filing form I-485 concurrently with the I-130 petition), even when they are married to a U.S. citizen (USC). The exception is if the intending immigrant is eligible under 245i. If it’s possible that a petition was filed on the immigrant’s behalf by April 30, 2001.
- Be prepared to pay more than $1000+ in filing fees, and travel especially if the immigrant must travel Mexico for their appointment.
- BE PREPARED FOR TIME APART!!! The Consulate may schedule the waiver appointment 4+ weeks after the visa appointment. If immigrant is backlogged, it may take 8-12 months for a decision by the Consulate including another open appointment to pick up the approved visa.