If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and thinking about petitioning for a family member who wants to immigrate, you might be wondering what happens if you change your mind. What if something changes—perhaps your relationship with the foreign-born family member falls apart, or your income goes down and you can't afford to sponsor the person—will you be able to back out of sponsoring your relative?
The answer depends on how far along you and your relative are in the immigration process, as detailed below.
The first step in petitioning for a family member to come to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident is to fill out Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative), created by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
If you have already sent in Form I-130 to USCIS but the case hasn't gone further, you can "withdraw" your petition. To do so, write a letter to the USCIS office that is processing your petition. Be aware that this might be a different office from where you first filed the I-130. The letter should include:
your name and date of birth
your relative's name and date of birth
the "receipt number" for the petition that you filed (listed on the Form I-130 "receipt notice," Form I-797), and
a statement saying that you want to withdraw the petition.
A few weeks after mailing, you should receive a letter from USCIS acknowledging that you've withdrawn the petition. If you do not receive such an acknowledgment, consider having a qualified attorney help you make sure that USCIS has "cancelled" the petition.
Even after USCIS has approved the I-130 petition for your relative, you can still withdraw it until and unless:
USCIS has already made a "final decision" on your relative's adjustment of status application (Form I-485, used if the person filed the application while living in the U.S.), or
your relative has received an immigrant visa from an overseas U.S. consulate and begun his or her journey to the United States.
Just send the same sort of letter described above to the USCIS office that approved your I-130 petition.
If your relative already has received an immigrant visa or USCIS approval for a U.S. green card, your options are more limited.
You can write a letter to USCIS. But the agency will probably not respond unless you are telling it about some sort of fraud. And if fraud is involved, USCIS will want to know when you found out about the fraud and whether you were involved in it.
For example, if you allege that the immigrant married you for a green card rather than for love, USCIS might want to make sure that you weren't actually a willing, perhaps paid participant in this scam. (Penalties for marriage fraud can be severe.)
Proceed with caution and talk to an immigration attorney before taking action.
Telling USCIS why you changed your mind can be risky for two reasons. First, there can be penalties, including jail time and fines, if you lied on the I-130 petition. Second, USCIS might use information that you share with it to deny a petition that you file in the future for the same or a different relative.
But what if you withdraw your petition for reasons unrelated to fraud or misrepresentation? Let's say, for example, that your relationship has changed or you can't afford to sponsor your relative anymore. In such situations, you should feel free to ask USCIS to cancel the petition. What's more, you shouldn't have any problems if you decide to file another relative petition in the future.