Once U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your asylum application, you can apply for your immediate relatives to join you in the United States. To do that, you will have to file a Form I-730 petition on their behalf. This article explains Form I-730, including who can file it and when, which relatives qualify for it, and how to file a Form I-730 petition.
What is Form I-730?
Form I-730 is the “Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), an agency of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), uses Form I-730 to grant derivative status to relatives of refugees and asylees. With derivative refugee/asylee status, certain relatives can accompany you to the United States. The U.S. Department of State classifies these traveling relatives as follow-to-join asylees and follow-to-join refugees.
To file Form I-730, you must be the principal refugee or principal asylee. Those with derivative asylee or refugee status cannot file Form I-730. After receiving refugee/asylee status, you have two years to file Form I-730 for your relatives. Under special circumstances, such as a health crisis, you can request an exception waiver from USCIS for the filing time requirement.
Which refugee/asylum relatives are eligible for a Form I-730 petition?
You can file Form I-730 on behalf of your spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a few additional stipulations on eligibility for Form I-730. The following must apply to your relatives for a Form I-730 petition to be valid:
- You and your relative’s family relationship must have existed on or before the date of your asylum grant or refugee grant. You and your spouse must have been married when you received refugee or asylum status. Your child must have a date of birth on or before your date of asylum or refugee grant.
- Your child must be under 21 when USCIS receives your initial asylum application. Alternatively, your child should have been under 21 when USCIS interviewed you for refugee status. If your child is now over 21 years of age, they may still qualify for derivative status if they were under 21 at the time of your initial asylum or refugee application. Additionally, you must have listed your child on Form I-589 or Form I-590 when you first applied for your status.
- Your child must not have married by the time USCIS approves your Form I-730 petition.
- Any of your adopted children or stepchildren seeking derivative status must meet certain age limits. Adopted children qualify if you adopted them before they turned 16. Stepchildren qualify if they were younger than 18 when you married their parent.
- Any relative seeking derivative status must not have persecuted others. If your relative ordered, caused, assisted, or contributed to persecution based on race, religion, nationality, or political beliefs, they are ineligible for asylum.
How to complete Form I-730 for your relative
Form I-730 has eight sections, along with an initial section at the beginning where you’ll note for whom you’re applying. Read on for a walkthrough of the different sections of Form I-730. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides detailed Form I-730 instructions on its webpage if you need more guidance.
You can find the “START HERE” section on the first page. Here, you’ll need to select your current status: refugee, asylee, or lawful permanent resident (former asylee). Then, you’ll need to indicate the relative for whom you’re petitioning. Note that you’ll need to complete a separate Form I-730 petition for each relative. However, you’ll need to indicate the total number of relatives you’re applying for on each form.
Part 1: Information About You, The Petitioner
Part 1 will ask for basic information about yourself. You’ll need to provide your full name, address, gender, date of birth, telephone number, alien registration number (A-Number) or Social Security Number (SSN), country of birth, and nationality. You must also provide information about past names you’ve used and your current and previous marriages. If a question in Part 1 does not apply to you, you should answer “N/A.” Don’t leave any questions blank.
Part 2: Information About Your Alien Relative, The Beneficiary
Part 2 asks questions about your family member. You’ll need to indicate whether your relative is in the United States. Be sure to write their mailing address in the language of their residential country. If your relative needs to apply for an authorized travel document, list the most convenient U.S. embassy, consular office, or international USCIS service center for them here.
Petitioners who hire an assistant to prepare Form I-730 should have their assistant check off “To Be Completed by Attorney or Representative.” You should also have your preparer submit identification and USCIS Form G-28.
Part 2 will also ask about your relative’s U.S. immigration history. This may include any past involvement in removal proceedings at an Immigration Court. In such cases, you may wish to discuss your relative’s situation with an immigration attorney before filing. You’ll also need to list the dates and places of their U.S. entry and their I-94 number.
Part 2 will then ask about their English and foreign language fluency. If your relative is in the United States and doesn’t speak English, an interpreter over 18 should go with them to their interview. If your relative is overseas, they won’t need an interpreter.
Part 3: Two-Year Filing Deadline
Remember that you should file Form I-730 no later than two years after receiving your status. However, if you apply outside of this timeline, you might still be eligible to apply for derivative status. You should explain why you’re applying late and attach evidence supporting your explanation.
Part 4: Warning
Part 4 warns that USCIS might find that your relatives in the United States are removable based on past immigration or criminal issues. If this happens and they deny your petition, a USCIS office may place your relative(s) in removal proceedings. Be sure you’re aware of any of your relatives’ immigration law violations. If you think one of your relatives may have an issue getting derivative status, you should consult with an immigration lawyer.
Parts 5-6: Petitioner’s and Beneficiary’s Signatures
Parts 5-6 will ask you (the “petitioner”) and your relative (the “beneficiary”) to complete some additional questions and provide your signatures. Your signatures assure that you are telling the truth on this form. If your relative is currently overseas, you can leave Part 6 blank.
Part 7: Contact Information, Certification, and Signature of the Person Interpreting this Petition, if Other Than the Petitioner or Beneficiary
Petitioners who used an interpreter will need to have them sign Part 7.
Part 8: Contact Information, Certification, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Petition, if Other Than the Petitioner or Beneficiary
Petitions who worked with a preparer should sign Part 8.
Part 9: To Be Completed at Interview of Beneficiary, if Applicable
You should not complete this section. If your relative is over 14, they will sign this section during their interview.
What supporting documents should you include with a Form I-730 petition?
To complete Form I-730, you’ll need to submit some required documents. These supporting documents will help prove your relatives’ eligibility for derivative status. A certified English translation must accompany any foreign language original documents you submit. You should submit each of the following that applies to you:
- Proof that you are a refugee or asylee in the United States.
- Recent photograph(s) of the family member(s) for whom you petition.
- If applying for a spouse: your marriage certificate.
- If applying for a biological child or stepchild: your child’s birth certificate.
- If applying for an adopted child: the adoption decree and records proving that you have resided with your adopted child for at least two years.
- If applying for a stepchild: your marriage certificate with your stepchild’s natural parent.
If an official never legalized your marriage, USCIS may still accept the relationship. Informal or refugee-camp marriages are valid for Form I-730 if you can show that you could not legally marry due to outside circumstances.
Fortunately, Form I-730 does not require any filing fees.
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