U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Updates its Process for Accepting Petitions for Relatives Abroad:

Adjustments for the I-130, Petition for Alien for Relative, will be processed domestically by the USCIS or internationally by the Department of State in certain circumstances beginning February 1, 2020. Certain services provided by the international offices of the USCIS will now be offered by the DOS (which already include the services the DOS offers in countries where the USCIS is not present.) Eligible active-duty service members assigned overseas will file their I-130 locally with DOS. “USCIS continues to modernize and become more efficient as an agency,” said USCIS Deputy Director Mark Koumans. “Since the [DOS] has a much larger international presence, we have delegated authority to our State partners to accept and adjudicate petitions for immediate relatives abroad in certain circumstances. 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.” To process the I-130 locally, the petition must fall under the blanket authorization criteria. According to the USCIS, this includes:

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

DOS has the right to accept the I-130 if a U.S. citizen petitioner abides by the “exceptional circumstance” criteria outlined in the Policy Manual update. Other overseas petitioners must file the I-130 online or by mail through the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility for domestic processing.

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Sheila Starkey Hahn

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