Why Now’s the Time to Submit I-130 Visa Petitions for Family Members

March 2, 2018 Strategies for sponsoring family members to immigrate to the United States in light of possible impending changes to existing laws, which might severely limit this option.

President Donald Trump has, among other statements about U.S. immigration policy, said on numerous occasions that so-called “chain migration” should be ended or sharply restricted. By his definition, chain migration means when “newcomers are admitted to the United States based on family ties and distant relations, as opposed to a merit-based system that selects newcomers based on economic and national security criteria.”

The President has, therefore, pushed for a change to the existing federal immigration law, which allows U.S. citizens to petition for green cards for parents as well as for siblings (brothers and sisters).

In response to his requests, Congress has considered various proposals, including one draft bill that would have eliminated green cards for all immediate relatives other than spouses and minor children.

Although this particular round of proposals (in 2017 and early 2018) was ultimately defeated, additional efforts at changing U.S. immigration law can be expected out of Congress in the coming months and years.

To be on the safe side, if you have a non-citizen parent or sibling who qualifies for U.S. legal permanent residency through you, and who wishes to live in the U.S. on a permanent basis, it might be worth submitting a Form I-130 visa petition for that person as soon as possible. Frequently, when immigration laws undergo a major change such as this one, people who already have an application in the system, awaiting future processing, are allowed to continue on with it.

Form I-130 is a relatively simple form that the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident fills out and submits to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in order to start off someone’s immigration process. For help understanding what the I-130 does and how to prepare it, see Filling Out and Submitting Form I-130 for Parents of a U.S. Citizen and Filling Out and Submitting Form I-130 for Sibling of a U.S. Citizen. And for information on what happens after the I-130 has been approved by USCIS, see Nolo's articles on the green card application process.

Stay tuned to the news and to Nolo’s online immigration updates for announcements about the future of family-based green cards.

Effective Date: March 2, 2018