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Form I-30 or the ‘Petition for Alien Relative’ is necessary to prove your family relationship when petitioning for a green card for a relative. Form I-30 is the first step in the green card process when sponsoring a family member.
Form I-30 helps the USCIS determine if a marriage is valid (or a sham just to get your green card) or to establish your place in line when applying for your green card, as your date isn’t set until the USCIS receives Form I-30.
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Who Files Form I-30?
The sponsor of the immigrant files form I-30, but not just anyone, can be your sponsor. US citizens may sponsor their spouse, children, parents, and siblings. Green card holders can sponsor their spouse or unmarried children.
What Documentation Is Required?
This is the most important part of filing Form I-30 - providing the right documentation. The USCIS must believe beyond a reasonable doubt the relationship between yourself and the applicant.
Without the required documentation, your application won’t be processed. At a minimum, sponsors need:
- Proof of US citizenship via a passport, birth certificate, or naturalization certificate
- Proof of green card if you are a permanent resident
- Proof of address for the last five years
- Proof of employment for the last five years
- Information about any name changes you’ve had
You’ll also need documentation for the petitioner, including:
- Proof of address for the last five years
- Proof of employment history for the last five years
- I-94 information if currently in the United States
- Documentation from any previous immigration hearings
If you don’t have some of the major documentation, such as a birth certificate, you’ll need to provide alternative documentation that shows detailed information about your place of birth. The information must be irrefutable but may even include statements from relatives who can attest to the information provided.
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I-30 Checklist for Spouse Petition
If you’re petitioning for your spouse, in addition to the above documentation, you’ll need:
- Form I-30 - Complete all information on Form I-30 legibly and to the best of your ability
- Form I-30A - If your spouse is currently in the US, you’ll need this form, but if he/she isn’t in the US, it’s not required
- Marriage certificate - This proves your relationship is ‘real’ and legal
- Proof of termination of previous marriages - If either of you were married before providing proof of dissolution of the marriage
The final documentation is proof the marriage is ‘real’ and isn’t a sham just to get your green card. The USCIS needs proof that you are in a joint union and not just pretending to be married. Some documents that suffice include:
- Proof of joint bank accounts
- Proof of shared liabilities
- Documentation of your tax liabilities
- Birth certificates of any children you had together
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I-30 Checklist for Parents
If you’re petitioning for your parents, you’ll need the following additional documentation:
- Parents’ birth certificates
- Parents’ foreign passport
- Parents’ marriage certificate
- Death certificate if either parent is deceased
- Divorce decree if your parents divorced
- Proof of name change if either parent legally changed his/her name
In addition to all of the above, you’ll need your I-30 filing fee of $535 and a cover letter. The cover letter isn’t required, but it is a great way to make sure you’re organized. It also gives you an opportunity to explain your documents and any unique circumstances you may have.
Every Case Differs
It’s important to know that every case is different when filing Form I-30. While the above documents are necessary for a ‘standard’ petition. If you have unique circumstances, you may need additional documentation to prove your ability to sponsor your relative.
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How to File Form I-30
You can file Form I-30 online (recommended) or via mail. If you file online, you’ll get your application in right away, have an account that you can frequently check, so you know the status of your application, and know when there are account alerts right away.
Where Do You File Form I-30?
If you don’t file online, you’ll need to send your documents via mail. Once you complete Form I-30 and have all supporting documentation, you’ll send it to the USCIS lockbox based on your location. Before you send your I-30 application off, make sure you have all documentation as the USCIS only processes complete applications.
It’s a good idea to keep a photocopy of everything you send so you have it for your records. If anything gets lost or there are questions about your documentation, you’ll have proof of what you sent and can answer questions correctly.
What Happens After You File?
After you file Form I-30, you’ll receive a notification of receipt from USCIS. This is your proof that you are in line, but it’s not proof that you were approved (or denied). You’ll have a receipt number to use to track your petition on the USCIS website.
After the USCIS processes your application, you’ll receive notice of approval or denial. If they can’t approve the application, they’ll tell you why and you have the opportunity to file again. If it’s approved, the next step is the green card application.
It usually takes a couple of weeks to receive your proof of receipt of the application, but the overall process takes much longer and depends on the demand at the time you apply.
Can You Rush Form I-30?
Unfortunately, there aren’t any ways to rush the processing of Form I-30 like there are for other immigration documents. If you have an urgent matter, you may be able to request that they expedite it, but they don’t often approve requests.
The Bottom Line
If you’re sponsoring your parents, unmarried children, spouse, or siblings to come into the United States, file Form I-30 as quickly as you can. Knowing everything you need to make it a seamless transaction is important, so you avoid the back and forth or an unnecessarily declined application because you didn’t provide the right information.