Reuben S. Seguritan

USCIS Expedites Processing of Relative Petitions

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There have been concerns regarding the slow adjudication of Form I-130 petitions filed by US citizens for their immediate relatives. Until very recently the USCIS has taken a year to process the petitions and the delay has caused long separation of families.


Another processing problem is the improper rerouting of approved petitions to the National Records Center instead of the National Visa Center in cases when the beneficiary will apply for immigrant visa abroad. The rerouting has led to further delay and unnecessary expenses incurred by the petitioner whose relatives cannot apply for adjustment of status in the US and have to apply for an immigrant visa abroad.

These problems were addressed by the USCIS a couple of weeks ago when it assured the public that it would speed up the processing of Form I-130 petitions. It reported that it was already processing those filed in February 2013 instead of October 2012 as announced earlier.

The USCIS also announced last November 22 that it was identifying and expediting pending I-130 petitions filed by US citizens for their Filipino immediate relatives. This is among the immigration relief measures for those impacted by Typhoon Haiyan.

Furthermore, the USCIS said that it expected the processing to improve to an average of 5 months by May 2014. To achieve this goal, it has started to transfer stand-alone Form I-130s filed by US citizens for their immediate relatives from the National Benefits Center to its Service Centers in Nebraska, Texas and California.

Once a case is transferred, the petitioner will receive a notice of the transfer and where it will be processed. The receipt number will remain the same and the adjudication will take place within 60 days from the transfer. The status of a case can be tracked through the USCIS website which has been recently updated.

If a request for evidence (RFE) is issued, the petitioner is advised to respond fully in a timely manner to the Service Center where it originated. If the petitioner moves to a new address while the case is pending he has to notify the USCIS of the change.

The USCIS has also addressed the problem of improper rerouting which is particularly important to beneficiaries who will not seek adjustment of status in the US or who are not eligible for Section 245 benefits.

In discussions with representatives from the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the USCIS said that the response to Form I-130, Section C, Question 22 will determine where the file will be forwarded.

To ensure routing to the National Visa Center, the consular post has to be indicated in the I-130 form and it’s advisable to state that the beneficiary is ineligible under Section 245. If the form is correctly filled out and the case is improperly sent to the National Records Center, the local USCIS Field office should be contacted so that the file will be routed to the National Visa Center without filing Form I-824.

Form I-824 is an application to request further action on a previously approved application or petition and the filing fee is $405. It may be used to request USCIS to send an approved immigrant visa petition to the US Department of State’s National Visa Center.



(Editor’s Note: REUBEN S. SEGURITAN has been practicing law for over 30 years. For more information, you may log on to his website at or call (212) 695-5281.)

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