USCIS has intimated that 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. 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. Further, these petitioners will also be granted more time to respond to Requests for Evidence (RFE).
Previous regulations permitted individuals overseas to file Form I-130 with USCIS or their local U.S. Embassy or consulate. Under the new process, USCIS has indicated that it may authorize the Department of State to adjudicate their case in certain emergency situations, including when:
USCIS feels that this improved process for petitioners abroad would make the filing process more efficient and give it greater flexibility in managing its workload.
- 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.