USCIS Suggests to Follow Updated Special Instructions for Form I-130 to Avoid Delays and Extra Fees

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated the special instructions on its Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative page to help petitioners ensure that USCIS sends their form to the correct location after it is approved.

Form I-130 asks petitioners to indicate whether the beneficiary will apply for adjustment of status inside the United States or for an immigrant visa abroad at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate (also known as consular processing). These are currently questions 61 and 62 on the paper-based Form I-130 and these options appear in the online version of the form as well.

Although Form I-130 allows petitioners to choose both options, petitioners  should select only one option. Petitioners’ response determines where USCIS will send the approved petition. If petitioners select the consular processing abroad option, USCIS will route the approved Form I-130 to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC).

If petitioners select the adjustment of status option, USCIS will typically send the approved Form I-130 to its National Records Center (NRC) to wait for the beneficiary to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

If petitioners want to change the selection while the Form I-130 remains pending with USCIS, they should contact the USCIS Contact Center. If they want to change your selection after USCIS has already approved the form, they may need to file Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition.

Selecting only one option on Form I-130 will help petitioners avoid additional costs and processing delays.

The Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman) has received several case assistance requests from petitioners who selected both options on Form I-130 and USCIS routed their approved petitions to the NRC. If the petitioner selected both options on the form when the beneficiary resided outside of the United States, USCIS required the filing of a Form I-824 to have the approved petition relocated to the NVC for consular processing. The filing fee for Form I-824 is $465 and processing times currently range from 3.5 to 22.5 months.

If petitioners select only the consular processing option and USCIS does not send the approved Form I-130 to the NVC within two months of approval, this could be a USCIS error and petitioners would not be expected to file a Form I-824. If petitioners cannot resolve the issue with USCIS, they may submit a CIS Ombudsman case assistance request. If they do, they should include copies of the original Form I-130 submission and documentation of their  correspondence or inquiries to USCIS where they tried to resolve the issue.