Form I-130 Approved: Your Guide to Next Steps in the Immigration Journey

My Form I-130 is approved. What should I do next?

Congratulations on the approval of your Form I-130! After approval of I-130 petition, the next steps will depend on your specific circumstances, including whether the beneficiary is in the U.S. or abroad and whether you’re pursuing adjustment of status or consular processing. Here’s a general guide on what to do next:

  1. Determine the Immigration Pathway:
  • If Beneficiary is in the U.S.: If the beneficiary is already in the U.S., you can proceed with the adjustment of status process to become a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
  • If Beneficiary is Abroad: If the beneficiary is outside the U.S., they will need to go through consular processing to obtain an immigrant visa and then enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident.
  1. If Beneficiary is in the U.S. (Adjustment of Status):
  • File Form I-485: If you’re pursuing adjustment of status, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS. This form is used to apply for a green card while remaining in the U.S.
  1. If Beneficiary is Abroad (Consular Processing):
  • Receive NVC Notification: If your I-130 is approved and the beneficiary is outside the U.S., the National Visa Center (NVC) will process the case and provide instructions for the visa application process.
  1. Complete the Required Forms and Documentation:
  • I-485 (if applicable): If you’re adjusting status in the U.S., complete Form I-485 and gather all required supporting documents, including photographs, government-issued IDs, and medical examination results.
  • DS-260 (if applicable): If you’re going through consular processing, the beneficiary will need to complete Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application, and submit the required supporting documents to the NVC.
  1. Attend Biometrics Appointment (if applicable):
  • If you’re adjusting status in the U.S., USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for the beneficiary to provide fingerprints and a photograph.
  1. Attend Adjustment of Status Interview (if applicable):
  • If you’re adjusting status in the U.S., USCIS may schedule an adjustment of status interview. Be prepared to answer questions about your relationship and provide supporting evidence.
  1. Attend Consular Interview (if applicable):
  • If you’re going through consular processing, the beneficiary will attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. Be prepared to provide documentation and answer questions.
  1. Pay Required Fees:
  • Pay the required fees associated with the specific immigration process you’re pursuing. This may include the filing fee for Form I-485 or the visa application fee for consular processing.
  1. Follow USCIS Instructions:
  • Follow any instructions provided by USCIS or the U.S. embassy/consulate carefully. This includes submitting required documents, attending appointments, and responding to requests for additional information.
  1. Stay Informed and Patient:
  • Stay informed about the progress of your case through USCIS updates and communication from the NVC (for consular processing). Be prepared for potential delays and keep in mind that the immigration process can take time.
  1. Seek Legal Assistance (if needed):
  • If you’re unsure about the next steps or encounter any challenges, consider seeking guidance from an immigration attorney who can provide personalized advice based on your situation.

Remember that the steps you take next will depend on your individual circumstances and the immigration pathway you’re pursuing. Following the USCIS instructions and staying organized will help ensure a smooth process as you move forward in your immigration journey.

What is Consular Processing?

Consular processing is one of the pathways available for individuals who are outside the United States to obtain an immigrant visa and enter the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). This process involves several steps, including application submission, document collection, an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, and, if approved, entry into the U.S. as a green card holder.

Here’s an overview of the consular processing procedure:

  1. I-130 Petition Approval:
  • The first step in consular processing is the approval of the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident on behalf of their qualifying family member.
  1. National Visa Center (NVC) Processing:
  • After the I-130 is approved, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which manages immigrant visa processing for beneficiaries outside the U.S.
  1. Fee Payment and Documentation Submission:
  • The petitioner (sponsor) is required to pay the appropriate fees to the NVC and submit various forms and supporting documents. This may include Form DS-260 (Online Immigrant Visa Application) and documents such as civil and financial records, police certificates, and passport-style photos.
  1. Visa Interview Scheduling:
  • Once the NVC receives and reviews the required documentation, they will schedule a visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the beneficiary’s home country. The beneficiary will receive instructions on how to prepare for the interview.
  1. Visa Interview:
  • The beneficiary attends the scheduled visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. During the interview, a consular officer will review the application, conduct an interview, and assess the eligibility of the beneficiary for an immigrant visa.
  1. Medical Examination:
  • Before the interview, the beneficiary typically undergoes a medical examination by a designated panel physician to ensure they meet health-related requirements for immigration.
  1. Administrative Processing (if applicable):
  • In some cases, additional administrative processing may be required after the interview. This can involve further background checks or document verification.
  1. Visa Issuance:
  • If the consular officer approves the visa application, the beneficiary’s passport will be stamped with an immigrant visa, allowing them to travel to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident.
  1. Entry to the U.S.:
  • Upon arrival in the U.S., the beneficiary presents the immigrant visa and undergoes inspection by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at a port of entry. After inspection, the beneficiary becomes a lawful permanent resident.

It’s important to note that the consular processing process may vary based on the specific U.S. embassy or consulate and the beneficiary’s individual circumstances. Additionally, certain family-sponsored preference categories have limited visa numbers, which can impact the timing of the process. As a result, beneficiaries and sponsors should carefully follow the instructions provided by the NVC and the U.S. embassy/consulate to ensure a smooth consular processing experience.

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