An immigration lawyer explains two important steps necessary for a U.S. permanent resident card. Learn about the required I-130 form, legal terms, fees and how long the process will take.

Step 1: In order to obtain U.S. residency for you or a family member you will need to complete and file Form I-130. This form is also called a Petition for Alien Relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once completed, it will start the process to apply for a green card and ultimately receive a family-based U.S. permanent residency.

The person making the request for an alien relative to come to the U.S is called a petitioner or sponsor. He or she can be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (green card holder.) A sponsor can petition for his or her children, spouses or siblings (the “beneficiary”).

  • Purpose: The main purpose of Form I-130 is to verify the existence of a valid family relationship between the petitioner/sponsor and the beneficiary.
  • Fee: The filing fee for Form I-130 is $535.00.
  • Timeline: The time to process the Form I-130 Petition varies significantly depending on the relationship between the petitioner/sponsor and the beneficiary. The timing will also depend upon the workload of the USCIS office and the amount of forms being processed.

Step 2: Although at first glance the Form I-130 appears to be basic, it is not. In addition to providing biographical information known only by the petitioner/sponsor and the beneficiary, the Form I-130 also requires specific support documentation.

Hiring an immigration lawyer will help make your life easier in the long run by walking you through the process, share how the system works, track your green card status and explain the important language and support documents needed for a successful outcome.