Form I-130 Processing Time

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is a crucial first step for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who wish to sponsor their eligible relatives for permanent residency in the United States. The processing time for Form I-130 can vary significantly depending on several factors, such as the petitioner’s relationship to the beneficiary, the service center processing the application, and the visa availability. In this article, we will discuss the Form I-130 processing time, what happens after filing, and common reasons for delays in processing.

Form I-130 Processing Time

The processing time for Form I-130 depends on the relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary, the service center handling the case, and the visa availability for the beneficiary’s preference category. Generally, immediate relatives (spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. citizens) can expect shorter processing times, whereas family preference categories (siblings, married children, and adult unmarried children of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents) may experience longer wait times. Form I-130 processing times can range from several months to several years. To get an estimate of the current processing times, visit the USCIS website and check the processing times for the service center handling your case.

What Happens After Filing Form I-130?

  1. Receipt Notice: After filing Form I-130, the petitioner will receive a receipt notice from USCIS within 2-4 weeks. This notice confirms that USCIS has received the petition and has started processing it.
  2. Request for Evidence (RFE): USCIS may issue an RFE if additional information or documentation is needed to support the petition. Responding to an RFE in a timely manner is crucial, as failure to do so could result in delays or denial of the petition.
  3. Approval Notice: Once USCIS has reviewed the petition and determined that the relationship between the petitioner and beneficiary is valid, an approval notice will be issued. The approval of Form I-130 does not grant the beneficiary a green card; it simply establishes the relationship and allows the beneficiary to move forward with the next steps in the immigration process.
  4. Visa Availability and Filing Form I-485 or Consular Processing: Depending on the beneficiary’s preference category and country of chargeability, they may need to wait for a visa to become available. Immediate relatives generally do not face visa availability issues, while family preference categories may have to wait for a visa number to become available based on the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin.a. If the beneficiary is already in the United States, they may file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, concurrently with Form I-130 or after its approval, provided a visa number is available.b. If the beneficiary is outside the United States, they will need to go through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country once a visa number is available.

Common Reasons for Delays in Form I-130 Processing

Several factors can contribute to delays in the processing of Form I-130, including:

  1. Incomplete or inaccurate petition: Ensuring that the petition is complete and accurate before submission can help prevent unnecessary delays.
  2. Request for Evidence (RFE): As mentioned earlier, if USCIS requires additional documentation or evidence, it can extend the processing time for the petition.
  3. High volume of petitions: The number of petitions received by USCIS can impact processing times. If there is a surge in petitions, it may result in longer processing times.
  4. Security checks: Lengthy background checks and security clearances can sometimes cause delays in processing.
  5. COVID-19 pandemic: The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has led to operational changes and reduced capacity at USCIS offices, which may contribute to delays in processing times.


The Form I-130 processing time can vary widely based on several factors, but understanding the steps involved and being aware of common delays can help you better prepare for the family-based immigration process. Always ensure that your petition is complete and accurate, and promptly respond to any requests for additional information. By staying informed and proactive, you can increase the likelihood of a successful outcome and help your family member move one step closer to becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.