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How long will it take for the Form I-130 approval?

i-130 processing timesThe time it takes to receive approval on Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, can vary significantly depending on the petitioner/beneficiary relationship.

Estimating I-130 processing times can be very difficult. But it is extremely helpful to understand the difference between immediate relative and family preference categories as well as the basics of family-based immigration in the United States.

RECOMMENDED: What Happens After Filing Form I-130

I-130 Processing Times for Immediate Relatives

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 to 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

To learn what happens next, read After I-130 is Approved, What’s Next.

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I-130 Processing Times for Family Preference

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 several years for other categories. U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available each year for the family preference categories. This backlog creates the wait. 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.

To learn what happens next, read After I-130 is Approved, What’s Next.

Priority Dates & Visa Bulletin

For family preference petitions, your relative’s “place in line” will be based on the date you file your Form I-130 petition. This is known as the priority date. Therefore, there’s an advantage to filing as soon as possible.

Even once USCIS approves the I-130 petition, it must also be current before your relative can apply for a green card. When an I-130 petition is current, that’s the equivalent of moving to the front of the line. More precisely, it means that a visa number is available. To monitor their place in line, many people review the U.S. Department of State’s monthly visa bulletin.

RECOMMENDED: How to Read the Visa Bulletin

Source: USCIS