Form I-130, issued by U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services (USCIS), is the first form someone files in order to start the process of getting U.S.
lawful permanent resident status (a green card) for a family member.
More technically, it’s known as a visa petition. Both U.S. citizens and lawful
permanent residents can use Form 1-130 to petition for a spouse and unmarried
children, and U.S. citizens can additionally use it to petition for parents,
siblings, and married children.
If your I-130 visa application has
been denied, you need to figure out the likely reasons as well as whether you can
overcome them, as discussed below.
Reasons for I-130 Denial
There are many reasons why an I-130 petition
can be denied, such as the ones listed below. For any of these, note that normally
you will be notified of the problem first, before receiving a denial notice, and
have a chance to supply follow-up documentation.
- You didn’t provide enough information for USCIS to make
an informed decision. If, for example, USCIS sent you a request for
follow-up documents or information, and you didn’t provide what it was
looking for, you probably already have a good idea of the reason for the eventual
- Not enough proof of family relationship. One of the key
requirements of Form I-130 is proving that the petitioning U.S. citizen or
lawful permanent resident is actually the spouse, parent, or other family member
of the intending immigrant. If the birth or marriage certificates that you
submitted were badly photocopied and difficult to read, had not been
translated, or did not appear to come from an official source, your petition
might be denied. Proving stepparent relationships can also be confusing
for some people, who don’t realize that you need to provide both the child’s
birth certificate and the parents’ marriage certificate proving that the
marriage took place before the child turned 18.
- Not enough proof of the U.S. citizen’s or permanent
resident’s status. There is no way that USCIS will approve an I-130 until
it is convinced that the person filing it has the power to petition for an
immigrant. If, for example, a permanent resident tried to file an I-130
petition for someone by presenting a copy of his or her expired green card,
that application would be denied.
- Failure to pay the appropriate fee. USCIS fees are
changed regularly, usually in an upward direction. If you didn’t pay the
correct fee at the time you filed the petition, or if USCIS lost your fee payment
(it happens), the petition would be denied.
- A USCIS mistake. Sometimes, despite your best efforts,
USCIS does not realize that you have provided everything needed in order
for your I-130 petition to be approved. This is intensely frustrating, but
at least you’re likely to have better luck next time.
If Your I-130 Visa Petition Is Denied
Although it’s possible to appeal the
denial of an I-130, it’s just as easy to start over by filing a new petition. This
also offers the advantage that you’re not trying to convince USCIS that it made
a mistake, which USCIS doesn’t like to admit. Nothing prevents you from filing
a new I-130 visa petition whenever you like.
A good immigration lawyer can help you figure out what
went wrong with your first I-130 petition, and help you do it right on the next