Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative – first guide of many
This is a practical guide, not legal advice for Form I-130
Please note, I avoid giving legal advice for what to put in the form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative on purpose, and my preference is that people who can always think about finding a professional, whether that’s a BIA rep or a lawyer, to help them with the I-130 petition, or any other form.
But, I also have way too many people that come find me after they bungle their I-130 themselves, so I’ve made this video to give those of your out there that insist on DIY a fighting chance for success. Our channel’s mission is to provide reliable information, to help immigrants make better decisions, and avoid costly mistakes, and this is the sort of content that advances that.
Finally, please also note that many of the tips here apply to other immigration forms you may fill out, like the I-129, the I-129f, the I-140, the N-400 naturalization form, the I-485, voluntary waivers, and others.
These 11 tips start with three tips that really apply across any immigration you may file:
Tip 1: Take the care to have your petition reviewed
Your form I-130 petition for alien relative is important enough that you should take the time to do it right, and this means triple-checking every response for absolute accuracy, and having an outside person check for grammar and spelling, where appropriate.
Perhaps more importantly, having someone with experience and training in immigration is critical because there are potential issues in anyone’s background that can be barriers to having an I-130 approved, and potential triggers for more serious immediate consequences, like deportation.
For an I-130 review from me, you can visit my Avvo page, where I am happy to do a review at a reasonable price.
Tip 2: Do NOT file first and ask questions later
Too many people file immigration forms with the assumption that they can either omit information or put in false information and then deal with the consequences later. The truth is that every year the background search process for all applicants gets more sophisticated and better at discovering untruths and half-truths. As a result, if there is anything on your file that needs to be explained or you’re not sure about, you need to address it before you file.
Tip 3: Never lie or say something you’re not 100% sure of
This piggy-backs on point 2, but is a point that bears emphasizing. If you knowingly lie on your application, not only is that a crime, but you are jeopardizing the rest of your immigration process and your ability to stay in the United States. If you say something you are not sure of, you can fall into the same sort of trouble, or simply fall afoul of a regulation that you may not be aware of, which can also adversely affect your life. Double-check, triple-check, quadruple-check all of your responses, and if something feels iffy, then gain clarity by doing research or contacting someone who can help.
From here, the next 8 tips deal with more practical matters:
Tip 4: Get PDF Software
It may seem like a small thing, but there is very little reason to do I-130 forms by hand these days. PDF software can be intimidating, but today there are many free options to help you read and fill out PDFs, without breaking the bank. The two free options I recommend are below:
- PDF Escape (free): https://www.pdfescape.com/account/?expired
- Adobe Reader (free): https://get.adobe.com/reader/
Tip 5: Set up a filing system and get organized
If your work space is not organized, then chances are that you will make a mistake, or that you simply will give up and never finish the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. Getting the paperwork done takes organization, and since this is usually the first step for many immigrants on their journey to become American citizens, getting organized at this stage will pay dividends in the future. All you need is a box, a two hole punch, some tabs, a good pen or two, a folder, and, it is highly recommended, a labeler. A labeler is a major organization hack that will create organized spaces in your house or work space. I talk about that in the video, but for now, I recommend the following two labeler models.:
Tip 6: Get a scanner
For the same reasons as above, a scanner is important to organizing your life as you go on your immigration journey. More importantly, however, a scanner lets you preserve and protect documents. There is a pronounced difference between a scanned image of an important document and one taken with a camera. Wand and mobile scanners have made this technology affordable, and scanner apps on phones (which are still inferior to the real thing) have made it even more so. There is simply no excuse these days not to have one.
Tip 7: N/A is not always best, let the directions guide you
There is a lot of old advice out there about writing “Not Applicable” or “N/A” into every blank space. Feel free to ignore that advice. Let the directions of the form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative guide you as to when you can leave spaces blank. The I-130 is chalk full of places that specifically instruct you to skip sections entirely based on your previous responses:
“Bonus tip”, aka “Tip 8”: A-Number formatting when you don’t have one
If you don’t have an A-number, then instead of writing “none” by hand, simply write in the number “0”, nine times, like so:
Tip 9: Utilize an “addendum” for additional information
The I-130 will often require you to include additional information that does not fit into the regular body of the form. The instructions will tell you to write in this additional information on Page 12 of the form. But, this last page is a very clunky area to write in, and can leave you wanting for space or simply wanting of a way to include information that can’t easily be written down.
The answer is to include an addendum, which is a fancy way of saying “additional page of content”. The thing about including an addendum is that you must give the USCIS office adjudicating your form I-130 petition for alien relative a heads up. And you do that in two steps.
Step 1: Write in “See Addendum #” in the page on space 12 or for whatever number response you need to write the question. Replace  with the number of the addendum that this corresponds to in your application. Your application at this point would then look like so:
Step 2: Include an addendum page behind your I-130 form, and it should have the name of the petitioner, the beneficiary, the page, part, and question number being addressed, the A-number of beneficiary, if applicable, and the information being added. It might look like so:
Tip 10: Do a proper translation, and spend money to get it certified when you can
I can’t emphasize enough that if you want USCIS to consider any foreign language documents you send, from birth certificates to bills to letters of support, then you must provide a certified translation along with the original foreign language document. There are many groups out there that will do this work for you, and in today’s internet economy there is no excuse not to do this. If you are doing the form yourself, you need to do this, otherwise you’ll waste more money getting something translated after your application is rejected due to being incomplete.
Our firm’s trusted Spanish translator group is the Spanish Group.
Tip 11: Memorize the answers on your form
After you’ve put together your I-130 packet and sent it off, you need to save a copy for yourself, memorize your responses on the actual form, and be at the very least extremely familiar with the information in all of the attached documents. Knowing what you send in is a big part of the process, and you shouldn’t forget to do it.
I hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions via our contact form, and please like and share our video if you found it helpful.