USCIS recently announced that a new form — Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative — can now be filed online. When filing online, petitioners can submit all required forms and supporting evidence electronically and can track their case and receive notices through their online USCIS account.

According to USCIS, Form I-130 is one of the most widely used forms, and transitioning to online, paperless filing will make their agency “more effective and more efficient.” Online filing often results in quicker and more streamlined case processing. However, since online filing is a brand new process for USCIS and it is still being developed, there are many things to take into account when choosing the best way to file a petition.

There are several reasons why it might make more sense for someone to file a physical copy rather than file online. If you’re debating whether to file your petition online or through a physical mailing, here are a few things to consider:

  1. The USCIS website is a government website, which means it is common to encounter a lot of glitches;
  2. If there is anything unique about your case (such as a special request or fee waiver), you may not be able to file online;
  3. Filing a physical copy allows you to manually fill in certain fields on forms, whereas online filing requires that you select only from the options available on the online form;
  4. If you file online, you will likely receive your receipt notices and biometrics appointment notice a week or so sooner than with paper filing;
  5. Online filing may be more convenient since it does not require printing or mailing forms and documents, and there will not be any confusion about the proper place to file the submission packet.
  6. Online filing does not allow you to attach a cover letter or addenda with explanations, which means you may not be able to clarify details or special circumstances surrounding your application or any of your evidence.

 

Overall, extremely straightforward cases with no special circumstances can likely be filed successfully online and this is a good option for many people. If you choose to file online, it is important to read the instructions carefully and complete each field properly so that the case does not get denied or returned for a simple error.

 With the addition of the I-130, the following forms can now be filed electronically with USCIS by creating an online account:  

  • Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card
  • Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
  • Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status 
  • Form N-336, Request for a Hearing on a Decision in Naturalization Proceedings (Under Section 336 of the INA)
  • Form N-400, Application for Naturalization
  • Form N-565, Application for Replacement Naturalization/Citizenship Document
  • Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship
  • Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322.