Many people from other countries wish to become U.S. citizens through naturalization. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) governs the process that allows foreign nationals to enter the United States lawfully. In other situations, current permanent residents and U.S. citizens wish to bring their relatives to live and work in the United States. In order to enhance the efficiency of immigration proceedings, the USCIS is continually making updates to its policies and procedures. Starting on February 1, 2020, the Petition for Alien Relative will only be processed by USCIS if it is a domestic case or by the Department of State (DOS) for international cases.
Form I-130 is the first step for an eligible relative to apply to immigrate to the United States and obtain a Green Card. This form is usually approved if it can be established that a relationship exists between you and your relative that qualifies for immigration to the United States. Once a petition is approved, the second step in the process is when the immigrant relative applies to become a lawful permanent resident (LPR). In some cases, the family member must wait until a visa number is available before applying. An immigrant visa is always available for immediate family members (spouse of a U.S. citizen; unmarried child under 21 of a U.S. citizen; or parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older).
Previously, USCIS provided specific services in their international offices, typically in countries where USCIS does not do a lot of work. Now, DOS will take over some of these services. Eligible active-duty military members who are based overseas can file their Form I-130 locally with DOS, and so will select non-military petitioners who meet designated criteria for consular processing.
Because DOS has a bigger international presence compared to USCIS, State partners have been granted the authority to accept and adjudicate petitions for close relatives who are living abroad. USCIS is increasing its online filing options, available to those individuals who file domestically or those who file from overseas. The digital application process is a cost- and time-saving measure for those who are petitioning and those who are applying.
In general, DOS will process Form I-130 locally if the petition meets broad authorization criteria, such as either of the following:
Besides these broad authorizations, DOS has the discretion to approve Form I-130 if a petitioner meets the “exceptional circumstance” criteria specified in the policy update.
Immigrating to the United States can be a daunting process for those who are from another country. There are many legal steps involved that require forms, applications, and documentation. At Mevorah Law Offices, we are dedicated to providing our clients with the best legal representation in all immigration-related matters. Discuss your case with our skilled and compassionate Illinois immigration attorneys to find out how we can assist you. To schedule a complimentary consultation, call our office today at 630-875-1700.
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