Improved Process for Petitioners Abroad will Increase Efficiency and Flexibility
August 15, 2011
Published May 16, 2011; revised Aug. 10, 2011
WASHINGTON - Effective Aug. 15, 2011, petitioners residing in countries without USCIS offices must file their Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) lockbox facility in Chicago. This change makes the filing process more efficient and gives USCIS greater flexibility in managing its workload.
Petitioners residing in a country with a USCIS office may send their petitions to the USCIS Chicago lockbox, or file at the USCIS office in that country. Overseas petitioners filing with the lockbox should expect processing times similar to petitions filed domestically, which currently stand at five months.
Based on a Policy Memorandum published in July 2011, these petitioners will also be granted more time to respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE). Applicants and petitioners residing outside the United States are now given up to 12 weeks to respond to RFEs, plus an additional 14 days to account for overseas mail.
Previous regulations permitted individuals overseas, who comprise about 5 percent of all I-130 petitioners, to file with USCIS or their local U.S. Embassy or consulate. Under the new process, USCIS may authorize the Department of State to adjudicate their case in certain emergency situations, including when:
A U.S. service member stationed overseas becomes aware of a new deployment or transfer with very little notice.
A petitioner or beneficiary is facing an urgent medical emergency that requires immediate travel.
A petitioner or beneficiary is facing an imminent threat to personal safety.
A beneficiary is within a few months of aging out of eligibility.
The petitioner and family have traveled for the immigrant visa interview, but the petitioner has naturalized and the family member(s) require a new, stand-alone petition.
The petitioner adopted a child and there is an imminent need to leave the country.
Individuals who must file Form I-130 at the Chicago lockbox should use the addresses provided in the revised form instructions, also available on www.uscis.gov/I-130:
For U.S. Postal Service:
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107
For express mail and courier deliveries:
131 South Dearborn – 3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
This new process was published in the Federal Register on May 17, 2011. Additional details are available in the related interim Policy Memoranda, issued Aug. 10, 2011. Individuals with questions or concerns should contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
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