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Immigration forms go through periodic revisions to reflect changes in the law and to “tighten things up.” However, in the 15 years I’ve been practicing immigration law I have never seen changes as wide in scope as those to the newly revised I-130 Alien Relative Petition form.

This is important because the I-130 is the petition that lies at the heart of the vast majority of family-based immigration. Without an approved I-130 most foreign citizens simply cannot acquire legal status in the United States. Unless the cases are based on special family circumstances (fiancée petitions, battered spouse petitions, and special immigrant juvenile petitions) a foreign citizen can get nowhere in the immigration system due to family relationships without an “approved” or “pending” I-130 filed by a sponsoring family member.

From 2 pages to 12! More petitioner information required. For a basic, non-marriage based I-130 the form now requires that the petitioner list his or her residence over the last five years. It used to be that just the current address was required. It also requires, for the first time in non-marital cases, a list of employment over the last five years, and extensive “biometric information” including ethnic background, height, weight, eye color etc.

More beneficiary information required. Beneficiaries are now required to provide employment information even if the employment occurred outside United States. In addition, the beneficiary must now provide information concerning any prior presence in the United States, not just if the beneficiary is in the United States at the time the petition is filed.

Even more information required in a marriage-based petition. From 2 pages to 18! It was always the case that additional information was required of both petitioner and beneficiary if the petition was marriage-based. The service has a single page “Biographic Information” form called a G-325A that essentially requires a listing of who one’s parents are, where they are now, one’s marital history, and where one lived and worked over the last five years. That information is already required in the new I-130 a marriage petitioner, but the information requirements for the beneficiary now must be listed be listed in a more extensive, supplemental I-130A form that is six pages long.

If this were not enough, it is not clear in a marriage case yet whether one must still provide this information in a G-325A, meaning that the information must be provided twice.

The Impact. Greater client Cost. Immigration lawyers frequently “eat costs” as an accommodation to clients (at least I do) when minor changes in forms occur. However, the information required by the new forms is substantially expanded, and the time necessary to collect it will inevitably be increased. “Time is money” as they say. Look for a general increase in the cost of legal fees to prepare these forms in future.


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