What Is USCIS Form I-730?
If someone entered the United States with refugee or asylum status within the past two years, they can file Form I-730. This form from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services allows asylees and refugees to petition for their family members to enter the country with them. The official name is Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, but many call it the USCIS relative petition.
To file Form I-730, you must either be a principal asylee or a principal refugee. A principal refugee or asylee is one who obtained refugee status or asylum on their own, rather than through a family member. Those who are derivative refugees or asylees, meaning they achieve that status through a family member, may not file Form I-730.
Who Is Eligible for a Form I-730 Petition?
The principal refugee or asylee must file Form I-730 on behalf of the family members they are petitioning for. Those family members may not file the petition for themselves, as they are not principal refugees or asylees. The requirements for becoming a derivative asylee or derivative refugee include the following factors.
- Unmarried child: Those filing Form I-730 for their child can only do so for unmarried children. Even if the child marries after you file the petition, they cannot enter the country to be with you.
- Under the age of 21: The child must also be under 21 years of age either when you applied for asylum or attended your refugee status interview.
- With an existing relationship to the principal asylee or refugee: If you want to file the petition for a spouse, you must have an existing relationship with them before you receive asylee or refugee status. You must maintain that relationship when you file the petition. You must also have been married before you were granted asylum or refugee status.
- With no record of persecution: If your family member has a record of persecuting another person, they will be ineligible for derivative refugee status or asylum.
Principal refugees and asylees may also petition on behalf of adopted children and stepchildren. However, there are stricter age limits for these children. Adopted children must have been adopted before they turned 16 to be eligible. Stepchildren must have been under 18 when you married their parent to be eligible. If someone is deemed inadmissible to the United States, they may be able to submit an I-602 waiver on the grounds of “national interest, family unity, or humanitarian reasons.”
What Is the Filing Deadline for an I-730 Form?
The filing deadline for derivative refugee or asylum status applications is two years from the date you receive your refugee or asylum status. In rare cases, USCIS may waive this time limit if you can provide a good reason for filing after the deadline. Specifically, USCIS may waive the deadline for humanitarian reasons.
Form I-730 Instructions
As the petitioner, it is crucial that you carefully fill out your Form I-730 and include all necessary supporting documents. Even small mistakes on these forms could result in a denial of the petition. This is why working with an experienced immigration attorney in Arizona is essential. We can help you through the process and ensure that your petition is filed correctly the first time.
Form I-730 has eight distinct sections, all of which must be filled out fully and correctly. You will begin by filling in your status as one of the following.
- Principal refugee
- Principal aslyee
- Lawful permanent resident (LPR) from previous refugee or asylee status
You must then include information about the petitioner (yourself) and the beneficiary (family member you are petitioning for).
This section includes information about the petitioner, which is you. You will fill in this section with information such as the following.
- First, last, and middle names
- Alien registration number (A-number)
- Phone number
- Mailing and residential addresses
- Date and country of birth
- Email address
- Social security number, if applicable
- Current marriage status
- Asylee or refugee status information
This section includes much of the same information as the previous section, but the information will be about the relative/s you are petitioning for. You must also inform USCIS of the beneficiary’s current location. Are they inside or outside of the United States?
Additional immigration questions ask for information about the following.
- Beneficiary’s immigration history
- Fluency in the English language
- How they entered the United States
If, at any point, you become confused about what to do, we strongly recommend speaking with a qualified immigration attorney. Remember, you must submit this petition before the two-year filing deadline passes.
If you are filing past the deadline, section 3 allows you to explain why. You must include supporting documentation and evidence to support this reasoning.
USCIS Removal Proceedings Warning
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services includes a warning about beneficiaries who are in the country unlawfully. This warning states that, if your family member is not granted derivative status, they will face removal proceedings. To avoid this, we recommend speaking with your attorney about the status of the family members you are petitioning for.
Petitioner and Beneficiary Signatures and Contact Information
Lastly, the petitioner must print their name, then sign and date the petition. If the beneficiary is already in the United States, they must do the same. Beneficiaries not in the United States at the time of filing are not required to do this.
If someone helped you prepare Form I-730, they must also sign the form.
I-730 Interview Questions
The last section of the petition will be left blank. This portion is reserved for the beneficiary’s refugee/asylee relative petition. As of November 18th, 2020, USCIS requires petitioners and beneficiaries to attend in-person interviews, regardless of their current location. The interview determines whether or not the beneficiary qualifies for derivative status.
What Supporting Documents Do You Need for Form I-730?
Before filling out Form I-730, we recommend gathering all essential documents to prove eligibility. Always make copies of original documents to send to USCIS. Do not submit originals to USCIS, as they may be lost or destroyed. Send the following forms of general evidence with your Form I-730 petition.
- Proof of petitioner’s refugee or asylee status
- Passport-style photos of each beneficiary
- Copies of Form I-94 for any qualifying family member who is already in the United States
You must also show evidence of an existing relationship with the beneficiary. For example, those filing for their spouse must provide evidence for both current and previous marriages. To show evidence of this with the beneficiary, you can submit the following documents.
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Adoption decree
- Evidence of termination of previous marriages
- Legal name change evidence, if applicable
- Evidence that an adopted child lived with you for at least two years
- Evidence of bona fide parent-child relationships or marriages
If you do not have any primary evidence, such as the above examples, you can submit secondary evidence from school records, census records, or religious institution records. Additionally, any documents that are not written in English must be completely and accurately translated into English, then verified by a translator.
I-730 Processing Time 2023
In most cases, it is extremely difficult to estimate potential USCIS office processing times. This is especially true if USCIS processing has been delayed for some reason. Generally, Form I-730 petitions can take five to ten months to process. However, the process could last much longer depending on the facts of your case.
Working with a skilled immigration lawyer in Phoenix can give you a better idea of how long your case might take. We have years of experience helping asylum seekers and refugees reunite with their family members, so we know what may or may not delay the process.
Where Do I File Form I-730?
According to the USCIS website, applicants must submit their petitions to the Texas Service Center as of January 2023. Their site also states that any petitions submitted to the Nebraska Service Center will be rejected.
The current address for Form I-730 submissions is as follows.
USCIS Texas Service Center
6046 N. Belt Line Rd. Ste. 730
Irving, TX 75038-0019
How Long Does It Take for I-730 to Be Approved?
Processing and approval times have declined from 2022 to 2023. This change can likely be attributed to the decrease in delays caused by COVID-19. The average processing time in 2022 was 28.6 months. Luckily, the average processing time in 2023 so far is 14 months. Remember that it is difficult to estimate how long your case might take without knowing the details. An experienced immigration lawyer can evaluate your situation and give you an idea of how long it may take.
What Is the Next Step After I-730 Is Approved?
Once USCIS processes your petition, both you and the beneficiary must attend an interview. Before attending this interview, you can review potential questions and practice with your attorney. We understand that the immigration process can be intimidating, so we’re committed to doing everything we can to prepare you.
Contact a Phoenix Immigration Lawyer with Ybarra Maldonado Law Group Today
At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, our team is passionate about supporting immigrant communities however we can. We use our extensive knowledge of immigration law to support the families we serve in their cases. If you want to petition for your family member to become a derivative refugee or asylee, our refugee lawyer team is here to help. To schedule a consultation with us, please call our office at 602-910-4040 today.