U.S. Expats Can File I-130s Abroad for Afghan, Ethiopian, and Ukranian Immediate Relatives

The State Department announced on March 17 that a U.S. citizen who is physically present overseas with Afghan, Ethiopian, or Ukrainian immediate family members may ask to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate that processes immigrant visas. This is an exception to the general rule that I-130s must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is generally slower. The exception applies only to U.S. citizens affected by the large-scale disruptive events in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Ukraine. Such citizens must be physically present in the country where they wish to file petitions. They can request to locally file on behalf of their spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents who fled Afghanistan after August 2, 2021; Ethiopia after November 1, 2020; or Ukraine after February 1, 2022. Such request can be made only if the U.S. citizen has not previously filed an I-130 for the relative with USCIS.

The process involves requesting that the U.S. embassy or consulate accept the I-130 due to “exceptional circumstances.” For more about such requests, please see our firm’s Guide to Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

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