USCIS Updates Process to Accept Abroad Relatives Petitions

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is in the middle of its effort to adjust its international footprint in order to increase efficiencies. As part of this, the processing for Form I-130, also known as the Petition for Alien Relative, changed beginning on February 1. If you find yourself impacted by these changes, contact an experienced New York immigration attorney for assistance.

What Does the Update Entail?

The updates made by USCIS regarding the Form I-130 states that the document will only be processed domestically by USCIS or internationally by the Department of State (DOS) in certain circumstances. Responsibility for certain services that were provided at USCIS international offices will now be up to the DOS. These are services that the DOS already provides in countries where USCIS does not have a presence. In addition to this, eligible active-duty service members who are assigned overseas will file their Form I-130 locally with the DOS. This is the same for certain non-military petitioners who meet certain criteria for consular processing.

The DOS will generally process a Form I-130 locally in the event that the petition falls under specific authorization criteria. As stated by USCIS, this includes:

  • Temporary blanket authorizations for instances of prolonged or severe civil strife or a natural disaster
  • Blanket authorization for U.S. service members assigned to military bases abroad

In addition to these, the DOS maintains the discretion to accept Form I-130 if a United States citizen petitioner meets the “exceptional circumstance” criteria in the Policy Manual update. All other petitioners residing overseas are required to file Form I-130 online or by mail through the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility for domestic processing.

Speaking of the update, USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans stated, “USCIS continues to modernize and become more efficient as an agency … USCIS continues to expand online filing options, which are available to those filing domestically or those filing from abroad, saving applicants and petitioners time and money.”

Contact our Firm

The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David practices immigration law throughout NYC. Immigration is a sensitive issue, which is why you should consider a compassionate, experienced, and aggressive immigration attorney who will guide you every step of the way. If you have questions about your particular matters regarding immigration please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your circumstances and options.