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Sponsoring a Family Member – Part One

\Who can sponsor a relative?

If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you may be able to sponsor a relative to immigrate to the United States.  In addition to providing documentation to prove your relationship to the person you would like to sponsor, you will also have to provide an Affidavit of Support (this will be addressed in a later blog) and prove your ability to financially support your relative at 125% above the poverty line.  The latest Poverty Guidelines are available at a variety of sites including the Department of Health and Human Services.  To access the latest guidelines go to:

What should I do first?

The very first step, is to establish your relationship to your alien relative or relatives who wish to immigrate to the United States. The way to accomplish this is by filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative form with the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). In most circumstances, you must file a separate form for each relative (there are exceptions for the unmarried children and spouses of the relative you are petitioning for in specific situations – see the instructions for Form I-130).

Prior to filling out an I-130 form, you should review the categories of relatives for whom you are eligible to apply. The allowed categories differ based upon your status as either a citizen or lawful permanent resident. There are also exclusionary categories set forth in the instructions for the form.

Do I have to submit anything with the completed I-130 form?

Along with the completed I-130, you will need to provide documentation to establish:

  • That you are either a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident.

  • The family relationship between you and your relative.

  • If your name or the name of the relative you are petitioning for has changed – provide supporting documentation to that effect.

You will also need to submit the filing fee (which is currently $355.00 but changes periodically) with the petition. Who the check should be made payable to is dependent upon where you reside. The check should be drawn from a bank that is within the United States and should be in U.S. dollars.

Where should I send it?

Be sure to check the instruction form and use the correct address for the state in which you reside. All of the petition forms filed by people residing within the U.S. are directed to Chicago, Illinois. However, the specific USCIS address in Chicago varies based upon the state you live in and whether or not the delivery is by courier/express mail. Additionally, if you are simultaneously submitting Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the I-130, there is a different address the USCIS directs you to use.

Prior to mailing it, be sure to review the application and be sure that you have enclosed the application, all of the necessary documents (fully completed and signed), photos and fees. 




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