Filling Out USCIS Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition for Your Family

If you have settled in the U.S. as a refugee or were granted asylum here, filing Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition with USCIS will allow your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 to accompany or join you in the United States in derivative asylee/refugee status.

By , Attorney · Temple University Beasley School of Law

If you have settled in the U.S. as a refugee or were granted asylum here, you might have family members whom you'd like to have join you or share your new immigration status, whether they are outside or inside the United States. To help these "derivative" family members, you can file Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), plus supporting documents.

Form I-730 and instructions are available on the I-730 page of the USCIS website ( This article provides detailed instructions on filling out the form. To see the underlying law on this matter, check out I.N.A. § 207(c)(2) and I.N.A. § 208(b)(3).

By When You Must File Form I-730 With USCIS

You have two years from your grant of asylum or refugee status to apply for this status for these qualifying family members. The only exception is if the United States agrees to waive this requirement for good cause in your case.

Who Will Qualify as a Refugee or Asylee's Derivative Relation

The following criteria must be met before you can petition your relative to become a derivative asylee or refugee:

  • You must be the principal asylee or refugee. If you were granted derivative asylee or refugee status, you are not eligible to file a Form I-730.
  • Only your spouse and unmarried children under age 21 can accompany or join you in the United States in derivative asylee/refugee status.
  • The relationship must have existed on the date of your asylum grant. Your relationship with a qualifying family member must have existed on the date you were granted asylum or refugee status and must continue to exist when you submit Form I-730. So, for example, if you are filing for your spouse, you must have been married at the time your asylum was granted. If you are filing for your child, they must have been born or conceived by the date your asylum was granted.
  • Your child must be under 21 when your initial asylum application was received or the date of your refugee status interview with USCIS. A child who is over 21 now might qualify if they were under 21 when you first applied for asylum or refugee status. In addition, the child must have been listed on the Form I-589 or Form I-590 that you submitted in order to become an asylee or refugee.
  • Your child must be unmarried at the time USCIS approves your I-730 petition. Only unmarried children under age 21 will be eligible for derivative status. A child who marries while your petition is pending will not be allowed to accompany or join you. A child who turns 21 might be protected from "aging out" by the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA). For more information, see the USCIS web page concerning the CSPA.
  • There are age limits for adopted children and stepchildren. Adopted children do not qualify unless they were adopted before age 16. A stepchild must have been younger than age 18 on the date of your marriage in order to qualify.
  • Your relative must not have persecuted others. Someone who matches this asylum bar cannot qualify for derivative asylum or refugee status.

Line-by-Line Instructions for USCIS Form I-730

Here is some helpful line-by-line advice for completing Form I-730 (the version USCIS issued on 02/02/24). If the answer is self-explanatory, we will skip it.

"START HERE:" Next to "My Status," check the box that best describes you: Refugee, Asylee, Lawful Permanent Resident based on previous Refugee status, or Lawful Permanent Resident based on previous Asylee status.

Next, check the box for the type of family relation you are petitioning for (your "beneficiary"), either spouse or child (with an additional box to check to indicate the parent-child relationship).

You must fill out a separate Form I-730 for each qualifying relative you wish to bring to the United States. In the next space, on each form, you'll need to enter the total number of relatives for whom you are submitting a Form I-730. Then in the next space, which says (____ of ____) you'll potentially enter a different number for each I-730. If filing just one relative petition, write "1 of 1." If filing for more than one person, write the total number on the second line and number each one consecutively. For example, if filing for three people, you'd write "1 of 3" on one I-730 petition, "2 of 3" on the second, and "3 of 3" on the third petition.

Part 1. Information About You, the Petitioner: This section is mostly self-explanatory. Enter your name, address, date of birth, gender, Alien Registration and Social Security (SSN) numbers, country of birth, and nationality. You will also be asked to list any other names you have used, provide information about your current and previous marriages, and answer questions about your receipt of asylum or refugee status. For any question in Form I-730 that doesn't apply to you, it's best not to leave the space blank. Instead, type either "N/A" for "not applicable" or "none," whichever best fits the situation.

Part 2. Information About Your Alien Relative, the Beneficiary: You will be asked the same questions about your family member that you answered for yourself in Part 1, plus additional information. If your relative is in the United States already, check the appropriate box. If your relative is outside the United States and will therefore need to apply for travel authorization, list the U.S. consulate or international USCIS office that is most convenient. Make sure to write the mailing address in the language of the country where your beneficiary resides. If you have hired someone to assist you in preparing Form I-730, that person should check the box "To Be Completed By Attorney or Representative" and provide identification here along with an attached USCIS Form G-28 (with your signature).

Questions about family members' U.S. immigration history: You will need to provide information about your relative's U.S. immigration history. If your relative is or was ever in removal proceedings in Immigration Court, you'll need to list the court's name here. But you should absolutely consult an attorney about the implications of this history for your relative's current eligibility.

You will later be asked to list all dates and places of the person's U.S. entry, including the I-94 number. Get this from either the little card that U.S. officials put into their passport upon entry to the U.S. or, if the entry was after April 2013 and they did not receive a paper I-94, download this number from the Customs & Border Protection website. You'll also need to specify your relative's immigration status at the time of each visit. If your relative entered the United States without inspection, type "EWI" in the space for status and write "none" for I-94#. Also attach copies of the I-94s and relevant passport pages.

Various questions about family members' English and other language fluency: Fill in information about your family member's language abilities. If your family member who is applying for derivative asylum does not speak fluent English and lives in the United States, you will need to bring a competent interpreter of 18 years of age or older to the eventual USCIS interview; someone who is fluent in both English and the language your family member speaks. A witness, attorney, or employee or representative of your country MAY NOT serve as an interpreter. Though bringing an interpreter is not absolutely required, it is highly recommended. Relatives outside of the U.S. usually will not require an interpreter at their overseas interview.

Part 3. Two-Year Filing Deadline: If you are filing Form I-730 more than two years after you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or granted asylum, check "yes" here, and provide good reasons for not having submitted this application prior to the deadline. USCIS decides on a case-by-case basis whether to allow late submissions. Also attach evidence to support your explanation. For example, if you were unable to timely file due to illness, you can attach a note from your doctor or copies of medical records that can prove your incapacity.

Part 4. Warning: This section will advise you that if your relatives are in the U.S. but are found to be removable due to immigration or criminal violations or any other grounds of inadmissibility, they will be placed into removal proceedings in immigration court if the I-730 petition is denied. This is why it's important to consult an experienced immigration attorney who can advise you whether or not it's wise to submit Form I-730 for a relative currently in the United States, especially without lawful status.

Parts 5-6. Certifications, Contact Information, Signatures: You (the "petitioner") as well as your relative ("the beneficiary") will need to provide some final information and assurances that you are telling the truth, and to sign and date the form here. If your relative is not the United States, or is younger than 14, their section may be left blank.

Part 7: Interpreter's Contact Information and Signature. If a foreign-language interpreter helped you understand this form, that person's information and signature must go here.

Part 8: Preparer's Contact Information and Signature. If somebody helped you prepare the petition, that person should also sign, date, and provide identifying information

Part 9. To Be Completed at Interview of Beneficiary, If Applicable. DO NOT COMPLETE THIS SECTION. A family member who is over age 14 and is interviewed will sign here at that time.

Additional Form Refugees (Not Asylees) Must Complete and Send

If you are a refugee in the United States, you are expected to also submit a Form I-590, Registration for Classification as Refugee (PDF, 696.08 KB), along with the Form I-730 petition. It requests additional family biographical information. Your relative does not need to complete Parts 5, 8, or 9 of the form, nor sign it.

What Documents You Must Send With USCIS Form I-730

Submitting Form I-730 alone is not enough. You will need to add supporting documents (as detailed on the instructions to the form, found on the USCIS I-730 page), most importantly proving the claimed family relationships; such as a birth certificate for children and a marriage certificate for a spouse.

If your marriage wasn't formally legalized, but was an informal or refugee-camp marriage, USCIS will recognize it if you can show that you couldn't have your marriage legally recognized where it happened because of your flight from persecution and circumstances beyond your control, or due to restrictive laws or practices in your home country or country of first asylum. Such a marriage must meet all other legal requirements.

Is There a Fee to File Form I-730?

No, USCIS does not charge a fee for I-730 filing or approval.

What to Do After Completing Form I-730

After you have completed the I-730 application, make a copy of it and any supporting documentation for your files. If you will be submitting any foreign language documents, these must be accompanied by a complete English translation, in which the translator certifies competence to translate and that the translation is accurate.

Then send it by mail to the address indicated on the USCIS website. Be sure to choose a mailing method that comes with tracking, in case it gets lost.

How Long USCIS Will Take to Process Form I-730

Get ready for a long wait. As of early 2024, USCIS was taking nearly 30 months to make decisions on Form I-730. You can check its average processing times online.

Next Steps After I-730 Is Approved for Overseas Family

Even after your I-730 receives USCIS approval, plan for it to take some time for the U.S. government to help arrange for entry of overseas relatives.

In preparation for meeting with a U.S. official overseas, relatives of asylees will need to undergo a medical examination, by an authorized panel physician, and pay the doctor on their own. Relatives of refugee, by contrast, will receive instructions on having medical exams done after their interviews, and the U.S. government will pay the costs.

Your family members will need to apply to a U.S. embassy or consulate for either what's called a "Visa 92" (if you are an asylee) or a "Visa 93" (if you are a refugee). That means they will need to attend an interview there. Unfortunately, not all consulates handle this type of case, which means they might need to travel to one in another country. There is no fee charged for the interview itself.

The primary purpose of these consular interviews is to establish that applicants are truly your family members (and didn't, for example, merely fake the documentation) and that they don't pose a security threat to U.S. society.

For more information, see the State Department's web page for Follow-to-Join Refugees and Asylees.

As for for travel, your family will need to take care of this on its own. However, family of refugees (not asylees) will receive U.S. help with the arrangements and potentially a loan to cover the expenses.

Next Steps After I-730 Is Approved for Family in the United States

Relatives in the United States, by contrast, can receive their status fairly soon. They will, however, need to attend an interview at a USCIS office, with you accompanying them. This might require travel to another U.S. city or state.

A year after becoming derivative refugees or asylees, your family members can apply to adjust status and thereby receive U.S. lawful permanent residence (a green card).

Getting Legal Help

A good attorney might help you prepare the paperwork and supporting documents, as well as analyze any issues in your family members' claim for derivative asylum and help overcome problems.

Fortunately, asylum is an area where you'll find a lot of help from volunteer attorneys or nonprofit (charitable) organizations serving immigrants and refugees.

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