An official website of the United States government

Filing an Immigrant Petition
Family-Based Immigration

Step 1: Filing an Immigrant Petition

This is the first of two steps in obtaining an immigrant visa. The second step is the actual application for the visa, which is described in the next page.

How to file an I-130 petition:

Petitioners residing overseas who wish to file a Form I-130, Petition for a Non-Citizen Relative, may do so as follows:

  •  Online; or
  • By mail (paper).

The filing location for your Form I-130 depends on where you live and if you are filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status at the same time (this is called “concurrent filing”). Please visit the USCIS  website for details on filing the I-130.

Note: USCIS does not authorize the Department of State to accept a local filing abroad if the petitioner has already filed a Form I-130 domestically for the same beneficiary.  If exigent circumstances exist, the petitioner should request expedited processing for the electronic or domestically filed petition.

Exceptional Situations:

The U.S. Consulate General in Ciudad Juarez has limited authority from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to accept certain I-130, I-360, and I-600 petitions.  This authority only extends to U.S. citizens filing petitions for Immediate Relatives and to self-petitioning widows.

DHS is normally responsible for adjudicating these petitions and only permits the Consulate General to accept petitions in narrow circumstances.

The applicant and petitioner must meet specific physical presence requirements in Mexico and have authority to remain in Mexico for the duration of consular processing.  Petitioners must also show exceptional circumstances, which can include adoption, short notice of job relocation, U.S. military emergencies, or beneficiaries who are close to aging out of visa eligibility.  Petitioners should be prepared to provide documentary evidence supporting the basis for local filing.  USCIS has published guidance on circumstances that may qualify as exceptional and more information can be found in the Foreign Affairs Manual.  Petitioners may not locally file at the Consulate General to circumvent DHS processing times.

Individuals who believe they qualify to file a petition at the Consulate General may contact CDJFilePetition@state.gov to request more information.


< Previous: Family-Based Immigration                                                         

                            Next: Apply for an Immigrant Visa >