The time it takes to receive approval on Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, can vary significantly depending on the petitioner/beneficiary relationship.
For immediate relatives (spouse, children and parents) of U.S. citizens, there is an unlimited number of immigrant visas and approval can be obtained in approximately 5-9 months. There is a short wait because there is no visa limit for the immediate relative category. Immediate relative visa categories include:
- IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- IR-2: Unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen
- IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
- IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old
For all other categories, the time frame to receive an approval on Form I-130 can be significantly longer. It may be as short as 5 months for some categories but as long as 4 years for other categories. U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available each year for all other relationships. For alien relatives in preference categories, a limited number of immigrant visas are issued each year. Family preference visa categories include:
- F1 (Family First Preference): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
- F2 (Family Second Preference): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of lawful permanent residents.
- F3 (Family Third Preference): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
- F4 (Family Fourth Preference): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.
To determine your estimated wait, visit the USCIS page for Processing Times. Select the service center near you and examine the times for Form I-130.
Your relative’s place in line will be based on the date you file your Form I-130 petition. Therefore, there is an advantage to filing as soon as possible.
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