Family-Based Immigration

Two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories, immediate relatives and family preference, are provided under the provisions of United States immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  You can learn more about these two categories of immigrant visas on usvisas.state.gov.

To apply for an immediate relative or family preference immigrant visas, follow the steps on the Immigrant Visa Process on usvisas.state.gov.  Once you have completed those steps, review the instructions given to you by the National Visa Center (NVC), along with the information presented on this website, for further guidance and instructions.

Exceptional Filing at U.S. Embassies or Consulates without a USCIS Field Office (such as Ukraine): Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners, who do not reside in a country with a USCIS field office, but who believe that their situation merits an exception, may request an exception to allow the Consular Section at the Embassy or Consulate to accept the filing.  Each request for an exception will be evaluated individually. A petitioner seeking to file a Form I-130  (PDF, 1.62 MB) at an Embassy or Consulate where USCIS does not have a presence should contact the Consular Section to request consideration of the request for exception and explain the circumstances in detail.  The Consular Section will then relay the request for an exception to the USCIS field office with jurisdiction over the Embassy or Consulate.  The determination of whether the case presents exceptional circumstances that warrant an exception to the general filing process will be made by USCIS.  USCIS will be publishing guidance on the circumstances that may qualify as exceptional on their website. Please contact the Consular Section at kyiviv@state.gov for further information. The pages in this section provide step-by-step instructions for filing an I-130 petition for immediate relatives.

Please remember that I-130 petition approval is only the first phase of the immigrant visa process. Petition approval is not a visa approval. The petition only supplies the basis upon which the beneficiary can apply for an immigrant visa. The final decision about visa issuance is made by the consular officer after the petition has been processed, required documentation has been submitted and reviewed, and the beneficiary has been interviewed. American citizens can file an I-130 petition with the Embassy for the following categories of immediate relatives:

  • Spouse (IR-1 or CR-1 visas)
  • Unmarried child under 21 years old (IR-2 visa)
  • Step-child, if the marriage that created the relationship took place before the child’s 18th birthday (CR-2 or IR-2 visas)
  • Parent, if the petitioner is at least 21 years old (visa IR-5)

Important Information for Petitioners

  • When completing the petition, be sure to list ALL names previously and currently used by the beneficiary, including maiden or prior married names as well as alternate spellings. Failure to do so will result in a delay of visa issuance.
  • A separate form must be filed for each eligible relative/beneficiary.
  • The fee for filing each I-130 petition is $535, payable either in U.S. dollars or Ukrainian hryvnias cash.

Documents Required to File The I-130 Petition:

  1. If the petition is filed for husband/wife (visas IR1/CR1):
    1. I-130 petition (completed and signed by the petitioner)
    2. Form I-130A, Supplemental information for Spouse Beneficiary
    3. Petitioner’s U.S. passport (original and photocopy)
    4. Original or photocopy of beneficiary’s international passport (if it is not available at the time of filing the petition, submit the beneficiary’s internal passport)
    5. Original, copy and English translation of the marriage certificate
    6. Original, copy and English translation of documents showing that all prior marriages were legally terminated (for both petitioner and beneficiary)
    7. Original, copy and English translation of documents showing any/all beneficiary’s name changes (marriage certificates, court decrees, change of name certificates, etc.)
    8. Original, copy and English translation of beneficiary’s birth certificate
    9. Evidence of an ongoing relationship (photos, letters, phone bills, etc.)
  2. If petition is filed for an unmarried child or stepchild under 21 years old (visas IR2/CR2):
    1. І-130 petition (completed and signed by the petitioner; a separate form and filing fee is required for each petition)
    2. Petitioner’s U.S. passport (original and photocopy)
    3. Original, copy and English translation of the marriage certificate of the step-parent to the child’s natural parent showing that this marriage occurred before the child’s 18th birthday
    4. Original, copy and English translation of the documents showing that any prior marriages of petitioner and child’s natural parent were legally terminated
    5. The child’s photo (see photograph requirements (PDF, 120 KB)
    6. Original, copy and English translation of the child’s birth certificate
    7. Original or photocopy of beneficiary’s international passport/child’s travel document (if available)
  3. If petition is filed for a parent or step-parent (IR5):
    1. Petitioner must be at least 21 years old
    2. І-130 petition (completed and signed by the petitioner)
    3. Petitioner’s U.S. passport (original and photocopy)
    4. Photo of beneficiary (see photograph requirements (PDF, 120 KB)
    5. Original, copy and English translation of petitioner’s birth certificate showing his/her name and the parent’s name
    6. Original, copy and English translation of beneficiary’s birth certificate
    7. Original, copy and English translation of documents showing beneficiary’s name changes (marriage certificates, court decrees, etc.)
    8. Original, copy and English translation of the marriage certificate of the step-parent to the petitioner’s natural parent showing that this marriage occurred before the petitioner’s 18th birthday (if filed for a step-parent)
    9. Original, copy and English translation of the documents showing that any prior marriages of petitioner and petitioner’s natural parent were legally terminated (if filed for a step-parent)
    10. Original/Photocopy of beneficiary’s international passport

Please remember that all documents not originally in English must be accompanied by official (notarized) English translations. Originals will be returned to you immediately.

Affidavit of Support I-864

An Affidavit of Support (form I-864) is required for each person immigrating to the United States. Filing the I-864 form at the time of the I-130 submission is optional, but it will be required for all cases at the time of the immigrant visa interview. It is important that the sponsor(s) carefully follow the instructions to determine which form needs to be completed, and how to complete the forms. We suggest that you start this way: Review the I-864W instructions and learn whether the exemption form should be used; if no, Review the I-864EZ instructions to find out if the Affidavit of Support short form applies; If the above don’t apply, you probably will need to prepare the I-864, and possibly I-864A.

Petition Forms & Instructions

Once a petition is approved, the Embassy will open a case for each Beneficiary and will complete all necessary administrative processing of the immigrant visa application. Normally this process is completed within 30 days after the petition’s approval, but if additional clearances or administrative processing is required, the processing time might be longer. As soon as the I-130 petition is approved, the Embassy will hand out (or mail/email) Information Packet directly to the Beneficiary (now called the visa applicant). Information Packet tells the applicant which documents he or she must collect prior to the visa interview. Checklist is available here (PDF, 74 KB). When the Applicant has collected all documents specified in the Information Packet, he or she should follow the instructions in the packet and schedule the interview through the Call Center or online at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/. Applicant must apply for a visa within one (1) year after receiving the invitation from the Embassy pursuant to Section 203 (g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act.

No assurance can be given in advance that a visa will be issued.  A consular officer can make a decision only after the visa application and all documents are reviewed, and the Applicant has been personally interviewed. Applicants are advised not to: make travel arrangements, dispose of property or terminate employment until they have received their passports with printed visas. All applicants for immigrant visas must appear in person at the Consular Section for an interview.  Applicants must have all the documents listed on the form KEV-1 (PDF, 73 KB) and in the Information Packet. Children aged 18 or older must have their own passports. Each person is issued a separate visa.  The application fee for an immigrant visa is $325.  Please note that the application fee is non-refundable. Applicants arriving at the Visa Section will be interviewed and required to give an oath by a consular officer.  Their documents will be reviewed, and they will be advised of the outcome of their applications. If the visa is approved, the TMM-Express courier service will deliver the passport along with the immigration packet to be presented to the USCIS representative at the first port of entry. If the visa application is refused, the Applicant will be given a refusal sheet that will indicate the basis for refusal.  If applicable, it will tell Applicant what actions he/she could take to overcome the refusal.

An immigrant visa is valid for a maximum period of six months from the date of issuance. The immigrant must travel and apply for admission to the United States within that six months period. A visa may not be transferred from one person to another, or used by any person other than the one to whom it was issued. Immigrants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry to the United States. The visa specifies the period during which the bearer may apply at a port of entry to enter the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service authorizes the traveler’s admission to the United States, not the consular officer. Immigrants are required to present a passport with a valid visa and a sealed immigration packet, received from the Embassy. Spouses of U.S. citizens are admitted to the U.S. on a conditional status (CR1) if they were married for less than 2 years. Accordingly, children of such spouses are admitted to the U.S. on a conditional status as well (CR2 visas). A Conditional Resident has the same rights and responsibilities as a permanent resident. Conditional residents must file either Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence, or Form I-829, Petition by Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions, within 2 years of the date they were granted conditional permanent resident status. This date is usually the expiration date of the Permanent Resident Card. Immigrants should file these forms within 90 days of the 2-year anniversary of receiving conditional resident status. Failure to comply with these requirements could result in the loss of immigration status. For additional information about this status and USCIS procedures please contact USCIS.