May 2022 I-130 Processing Time-What Happens after Filing?

Welcome back to Immigration Lawyer Blog! In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick discusses what you can expect after filing Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative, used by U.S. Citizens or Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs) to lawfully immigrate a qualifying relative to the United States, and how long it is taking for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process these applications.

Want to know more? Just keep on watching.


The first step of the process to immigrate a foreign national involves the filing of Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This application forms the basis of the foreign national’s eligibility to apply for a green card, based upon what is known as a qualifying family relationship. Not all family members may qualify.

If you are a U.S. citizen, you may file Form I-130 only for your eligible relatives. This includes your spouse, your children, your siblings, and your parents. If you are a permanent resident, you can petition for your spouse and any child under the age of 21.

What happens after filing Form I-130?

Once you have filed Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative either by mail or online, you will receive a receipt notice in the mail known as Form I-797C Notice of Action. This notice will serve as proof that your application was received and properly filed with USCIS. The Notice will also include your Form I-130 receipt number where you can track the progress of your case online, and the date the case was received by USCIS also known as the priority date.

If you have filed Form I-130 by mail, you will receive the Notice of Action approximately 1-2 weeks after mailing the application. If you filed Form I-130 online, the Notice of Action will appear in your USCIS online account portal approximately 1 week after submission.

If you fail to include the correct filing fees with your application or your application is deficient in any other way, your case may be rejected and sent back to you. In such case, you would not receive a Notice of Action, and instead would receive a rejection notice along with your package being returned to you. Therefore, it is very important for applicants to review the Form I-130 instructions very carefully and provide all necessary fees and documentation with the filing. Failure to do so can result in the rejection of your case. If your case has been rejected, you are allowed to re-file your application with USCIS having corrected the mistake.

Thereafter, if any additional documentation is missing from your application, or if USCIS needs further information to process your Form I-130, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) outlining the documentation and/or information they need from you to continue processing your case. Requests for Evidence (RFE) are sent by mail and include the deadline for responding to the Request for Evidence in the Notice. When an RFE is issued, the case is halted until you respond to the request. For this reason, it is important to respond in a timely manner and no later than the deadline indicated in the notice. Remember, the longer you delay in responding to an RFE, the more time it will take for your case to be adjudicated.

After USCIS has fully reviewed your case and is ready to adjudicate your Form I-130, they will issue a final approval of the I-130.

Once the Form I-130 is approved, if the foreign national is residing abroad, USCIS will forward the application to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, NH for immigrant visa pre-processing. If your family member is not subject to any numerical visa limits, the NVC will request additional civil documentation to prepare the case to be sent to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad which will schedule the applicant to appear for an in-person immigrant visa interview.

How long is USCIS taking to process Form I-130?

Now, let’s discuss the processing time of the Form I-130. You can review the USCIS processing time for any form by visiting the USCIS webpage, selecting the form type as I-130, the form category that applies to you, and field office or service center where your case is being processed from the dropdown menu options.

For instance, the processing time of Form I-130 for U.S. Citizens filing for a spouse, parent, or child under the age of 21 are as follows:

  • California Service Center: 8.5 months on average
  • Nebraska Service Center: 5 months on average
  • Potomac Service Center: 12 months on average
  • Texas Service Center: 11.5 months on average
  • Vermont Service Center: 14.5 months on average

Please note that the processing times listed above, only take into account the average processing time of the Form I-130. They does not take into account the processing time of the separate Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, known as the green card application, nor does they account for the processing time of immigrant visas. The amount of time it will take to process Form I-485 and/or your immigrant visa will depend on the USCIS service center processing your I-485 application, your family preference category, whether your priority date is current on the visa bulletin based on your preference category, and visa interview availability at your U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.

The family preference categories are as follows:

  • Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (no waiting period required)
  • F1 Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens (subject to numerical limitations of the visa bulletin)
  • F2A Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents (current on the visa bulletin)
  • F2B Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents (subject to numerical limitations of the visa bulletin)
  • F3 Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens (subject to numerical limitations of the visa bulletin)
  • F4 Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens (subject to numerical limitations of the visa bulletin)

How do I know which service center is processing my application?

The service center processing your Form I-130 will be indicated on your Notice of Action. In addition, the first three letters of your receipt number indicated on your Notice of Action will tell you which service center is processing your application.

  • EAC – Vermont Service Center
  • VSC – Vermont Service Center
  • WAC – California Service Center
  • CSC – California Service Center
  • LIN – Nebraska Service Center
  • NSC – Nebraska Service Center
  • SRC – Texas Service Center
  • TSC – Texas Service Center
  • IOE – ELIS (e-Filing); and
  • YSC – Potomac Service Center

Predictions Moving Forward

As the Coronavirus pandemic begins to ease, we believe that USCIS will improve processing times as we progress through the months of June and July. The agency is already catching up and making significant changes to improve their workload including hiring additional personnel and reducing current backlogs. Unfortunately, at the Consular level things will continue to remain delayed. Minimal improvements have been made and country conditions abroad continue to create challenges for immigrant visa interview scheduling. We expect significant delays of more than 1 year at the Consular level due to enormous backlogs that prevent Embassies and Consulates from accommodating the existing demand.

We hope this information was helpful. If you need more information help please contact us to schedule a consultation.

Questions? If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

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