Application Procedures for Family Based Green Card
The application procedure for a family-based petition for permanent residence is essentially the same for immediate relative and family preference applicants.

Documents for I-130 Petition
  • Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative).

  • Supporting Documentation that shows
  • If any person's name has changed (either the sponsor or the beneficiary or any other involved person such as parents), please include a proof of the legal name change and that may include marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption decree, court judgment of name change etc.

  • The USCIS filing fees

    Application fee: Application fee must be sent with the application.

    There is NO biometric fee for this application.

    More details about fees

  • G-28 (Notice of Appearance for the Attorney or Representative). You need to send this form only if you are represented by an attorney.

  • Form FC-029, Copy certification.
Application filing instructions

I-130 must be filed to appropriate location based on your residence.

Application Processing
For preference categories, the date that your sponsoring family member submits Form I-130 on your behalf becomes your Priority Date indicating your place in line at which time your visa application can be processed.

  • USCIS Processing:
    A few weeks after your application has been received by USCIS, they will send you I-797C, Notice of Action, Receipt Notice.

    Using the receipt number in it, you can track the process of the case online.

    Online case tracking

    Depending upon the category, it may take a few months or even few years before the petition is processed.

    Processing Timings

    If USCIS needs any additional information, it will mail you a letter called RFE (Request for Further Evidence) asking for it. Follow the directions exactly, and make a copy of everything you send.

    Once it is processed, it will either be approved or denied. USCIS will notify the petitioner if the visa petition is approved, and will send form I797, Notice of Action - Approval Notice.

    An approved petition is only used to demonstrate a qualifying relationship. An approved petition DOES NOT grant any benefit, it simply creates a place in line for visa processing.

    USCIS will then send the approved visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available.

  • NVC Processing:
    National Visa Center (NVC) will notify the beneficiary (foreign national for whom the petition was filed) when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. You (sponsor) do not need to contact the National Visa Center, unless you change your address or there is a change in your personal situation, or that of your alien relative, that may affect eligibility for an immigrant visa, such as reaching age 21, marriage, divorce, or death of a spouse.

    Check Visa Bulletin for availability of immigrant visa numbers. Depending on the relationship and the country involved, the wait for an available immigrant visa number may be several years.

  • Adjustment of Status or Immigrant Visa:
    Once the immigrant visa number is available, the beneficiary can apply for Adjustment of Status if he/she is already in the United States legally. Unless the beneficiary had an immigrant visa petition or labor certification pending prior to April 30, 2001, the beneficiary must have continuously maintained lawful status in the U.S. in order to file an adjustment of status.

    Alternatively, if the beneficiary is outside the United States, he/she must go to the U.S. Consulate servicing the area in which you reside and complete Consular Processing.

    If the beneficiary is already in the U.S., Adjustment of Status (I-485) can be filed concurrently with I-130, provided the immigrant visa number is current (which is always the case for Immediate Relatives category).

Denial and Appeal
If your visa petition is denied, you will receive a denial letter from USCIS. It will mention how you can appeal and the allowed time duration for filing an appeal. Once your appeal form along with the required fee are processed, the appeal will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals.