** LEGAL UPDATE **
In the past, a U.S. citizen or in some cases, lawful permanent resident who lived abroad and wished to file an I-130 petition for a foreign-born family member had more than one option for where to file. One was to send the petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States; while the other was to approach an overseas USCIS office, in cases where it was more convenient or time-efficient.
USCIS has just announced, however, that the latter is no longer an option. It is closing many of its overseas offices, and going forward will allow Form I-130 to be processed only domestically, or in rare and urgent cases, by the Department of State (DOS).
There are only a few exceptions.
For one, eligible active-duty service members who are posted overseas can file Form I-130 locally with DOS.
Also, DOS can provide a blanket authorization for people to file Form I-130 locally, in cases of prolonged or severe civil strife or a natural disaster.
In addition, DOS will have discretion to accept Form I-130 if warranted by “exceptional circumstance,” such as:
All other petitioners who live overseas will need to file Form I-130 either online or by mail through the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility, as per USCIS's online instructions to the form.
For details concerning this new procedural rule, see Chapter 3 of the USCIS Policy Manual.
Effective Date: February 1, 2020