The United States of America has traditionally been one of the most attractive countries in the world for immigrants. Thus, about 54 million people immigrated to the country in the period 1820-1987. It is worth noting that most immigrants tend to choose large cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Houston as their place of residence.
Immigration Petition: What Is It?
An immigration petition is a special application form submitted by citizens (petitioners) to USCIS to obtain permission for permanent or temporary residence of applicants (beneficiaries) in America based on family relationships or employment.
Family-Based Immigration Petition
The U.S. relationship-based immigration program provides categories based on the degree of relationship and immigration status of the beneficiary. An American relative should submit a USCIS petition to begin the reunification procedure.
The petition consists of a completed Form I-130 and a set of documents from both the petitioner and their relatives. All documents must strictly comply with USCIS format/content requirements. Incorrect submission of forms may result in delayed or rejected applications.
Basic Sections of Form I-130
A Green Card holder or US citizen over the age of 21 can file a petition I-130 for these categories of people:
- Husband or wife;
- Child of any age;
- Brothers, sisters.
Form I-130 for a US Family Reunification Visa consists of 3 parts:
- Part 1 is devoted to the relationship between the beneficiary and the petitioner;
- Part 2 is about the petitioner. It specifies name, date of birth, family status, and contact information;
- Part 3 about the beneficiary. It usually includes date of birth, full name, residential address, and marital status.
Completing the I-130 Petition
To fill out Form I-130, log into your USCIS account at https://myaccount.uscis.gov/ and follow these instructions:
- Enter the email and password specified during registration;
- Go to “My Account” and click “Fill out the form online”;
- You will see a list of forms that can be completed and submitted online. Form I-130 is usually located at the very bottom of the list;
- Review carefully who is eligible to fill out an I-130 petition. The documents that will need to be provided will also be indicated there;
- Click “Next” and start filling out the form.
First, you will need to describe your relationships with the beneficiary briefly. Then, indicate your age, ethnicity, gender, places of work, and contact details, and provide information about your parents. It is also essential to indicate how you obtained US citizenship or became a Green Card holder.
Then there are questions about the beneficiary: where they want to live in the USA where they currently live. The petition should also include details of the last trip to America, the beneficiary's family status, and other important personal details.
The next page of the form shows the city and state of the USCIS office where you will file the petition. Carefully study the information, attach all the required documents, and double-check to ensure the petition is completed correctly. Only after this can you put your signature. The feeling fee for considering the petition is currently $535. You can pay by card online, which is very convenient.
Here are several helpful tips from USCIS on filling out Form I-130:
- If you are submitting a petition in printed form, make sure it is completed in black ink and block letters;
- If you make a mistake, don't try to correct it. USCIS does not accept corrected applications. Fill out a new document from scratch;
- Provide complete and accurate information because everything is carefully checked. Give truthful answers to questions, and don’t miss a single point.
Employment-Based Immigration Petition
Form I-140 is a petition to apply for an employment immigration visa (EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3) in the United States. The employer usually fills out and submits this document to USCIS. It must include information about the worker, his qualifications, experience, and other factors that may help USCIS decide whether to issue an immigrant visa. As soon as the Form is approved, the employee can apply for the appropriate immigrant visa category.
How to Fill out Form I-140 Step-by-Step?
To complete Form I-140 successfully, follow the guide below:
- Prepare all the necessary documents: copies of diplomas, certificates, workbooks, and other documents confirming the employee’s qualifications and experience;
- Contact an attorney or immigration consultant for assistance in completing the petition. They can help you gather the necessary documents and complete your petition correctly;
- Carefully review the qualifications and experience requirements to ensure the employee meets them. If you are unsure, seek professional advice;
- Try to describe work experience and qualifications as thoroughly and accurately as possible. It is vital to show USCIS that the beneficiary is a highly skilled worker and can make a significant contribution to the US economy;
- Do not forget to attach a payment receipt for processing your application. The payment amount usually depends on the category of an immigrant visa;
- Please check all details before submitting the petition. Mistakes or inaccuracies may result in the application being rejected or delayed;
- You can easily track the petition status on the USCIS website. If any additional information or documents are required, USCIS will reach you using the contact information you provided.
Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery – An Alternative Way to Obtain an Immigrant Visa
It is interesting that in addition to the listed areas of immigration, foreign citizens can win an immigration visa by bypassing the legally established rules. The Electronic Diversity Visa Lottery was created in 1990 to stimulate migration from countries with traditionally low emigration rates to the United States. According to the program, 55,000 visas are randomly awarded annually to citizens of countries from which less than 50 thousand citizens have immigrated to America over the past 5 years.
The computer program distributes visas among six regions of the world, with the largest number of visas going to regions with modest migration rates to the United States. The lottery is not available in regions where more than 50,000 people have moved to the United States in the last five years. An analysis of statistical indicators over recent years makes it clear that residents of Eastern European and African countries have the greatest chance of winning a visa.
Initially, this lottery was designed to increase the influx of migrants from Ireland. Still, over time, it began to be perceived as the only accessible way to obtain a residence permit in America. To be eligible to participate in the lottery, a person must meet several requirements: obtain at least a secondary education or have two years of work experience in a specialty that requires more than two years of training.
Final Notes: Obtaining American Citizenship
It seems appropriate to touch upon the issue of obtaining US citizenship since every immigrant who has been in America for a long time faces it, sooner or later. To apply for citizenship, an immigrant must have a Green Card five years prior to the date of application, be at least 18 years of age, have US permanent resident status, successfully pass exams in English, American history, Basic Citizenship and Law, and pay the state fee.
For spouses of US citizens and individuals who received Green Cards under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), the required Green Card holding period is reduced to three years.