When you file a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative the USCIS will send you an acknowledgement that they have received the petition and give you a receipt with an estimated processing time. The key to that receipt is the word estimated.
Not that long ago the USCIS changed its policy in assigning priority regarding processing I-130 petitions to place emphasis on those petitions for which there was an actual visa number available for the petitioner’s relative. Immigration visas that are restricted by quota have to have a visa number available before they can receive an immigrant visa.
This move in theory meant that the USCIS would only be working on petitions where the relative had a chance to get a visa. Petitions for relatives that have years to wait before a number is available have been placed on the back burner. Having a petition approved serves no purpose if there are no visas available.
File your I-130 early
Even though your relative may live in a country that won’t have a visa number available for years you should submit the I-130 to the USCIS at your earliest convenience. Submission of the form marks your relative’s place in line for the desired visa and the sooner you mark it the sooner your relative will receive an application for immigration.
Before you tear your hair out
For two years now the USCIS has been trying to streamline the process and do a better job of communicating with their “customers”. One of their greatest achievements has been the introduction of online applications and online tracking of applications.
There are two areas on USCIS.gov that can help you figure out where your I-130 is. The first is a table called Case Processing which shows how long it takes to process a specific form. If the form is meeting USCIS stated goal for processing it will show how many months are required. If a goal is taking longer than planned, the table will show the filing date of the last case processed.
For example, currently the time to process a I-130 for a US citizen petitioning for a spouse, minor children or a parent is 5 months. However a US citizen filing to sponsor a sibling will have some waiting to do because the last processed petition was filed in April of 2007. The reason for this significant time difference is that siblings are on the bottom of the priority list and there simply aren’t enough visa numbers available.
Drilling down to your case
While the table is a good planning tool you want to know where your specific case is in the processing stage and USCIS has a way to tell you online. On the home page of their site you’ll find a link to “Check My Case Status” that will take you to an online form. Simply enter the receipt number and click “go” and the system will return a page that tells you what phase of the processing your application is in.
Just below that form there is another tool which will give you the national trend for processing I-130 which can give you an even better estimate of how much longer you will have to wait.
Your delay in the I-130 most likely is because there are no visa numbers available for your releative at this time. However with the tools mentioned above you can get an excellent idea of just how much longer the wait will be.
Eugene Jones is a principal in www.ImmiGreatNow.com.com which provides web solutions for family Immigration. Eugene is also a principal in www.connect4business.com a lotus domino manufacturing solution and www.nauvou.com.com web based solutions for customer support.