USCIS Beijing Filing Instructions for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

USCIS_patchReproduced below are instructions distributed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Beijing Field Office for filing the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. These local instructions supplement the official instructions on the USCIS website.

Be forewarned that the instructions contain several errors:

    • The instructions require submission of “Chinese notarial translations of all documents written in the Mandarin language.” The regulations actually require “certified” not “notarized” translations are required: “any document containing foreign language submitted to USCIS shall be accompanied by a full English language translation which the translator has certified as complete and accurate, and by the translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the foreign language into English.” 8 C.F.R. § 103.2(b)(3). A translator’s certification need not be notarized. In practice, USCIS Beijing follows the regulations not their own instructions.
    • The instructions state that the petitioner must be filing on behalf of an “immediate relative” (a U.S. citizen’s parent, spouse, or unmarried child under age 21). But the official Form I-130 instructions–which carry the weight of law–do not limit the type of beneficiary. So for example, the petitioner could be filing an F1 petition (for a U.S. citizen’s unmarried son or daughter age 21 or over), F2A petition (for a permanent resident’s spouse or unmarried child under age 21), F2B petition (for a permanent resident’s unmarried son or daughter age 21 or over), F3 petition (for a U.S. citizen’s married son or daughter), or F4 petition (for a U.S. citizen’s brother or sister). Don’t expect USCIS Beijing to follow the official I-130 instructions on this point. (Interestingly, the State Department’s website correctly omits the immediate relatives-only limitation).
  • The Beijing instructions state that the petitioner must have a residence permit or other “long-term official authorization” to live in China, but such documentation is not required. The official Form I-130 instructions state that a petitioner who “resides” within the office’s jurisdiction may file here. The term “residence” means one’s “principal, actual dwelling place in fact.” INA § 101(a)(33). Black’s Law Dictionary describes the difference this way: “Residence usually just means bodily presence as an inhabitant in a given place.” Since the plain words of the statute defining residence focus on where a person actually dwells, visa status is not determinative–the petitioner may be in China on a visitor’s visa or even illegally, so long as he or she actually lives here. The Board of Immigration Appeals has specifically held that a person may establish residence in a place regardless of visa status. Matter of Blancas, 23 I. & N. Dec. 458 (BIA 2002). Over the years, we’ve had some success arguing that USCIS Beijing must follow the official I-130 instructions on this point, not their own instructions.

Incidentally, the State Department’s website has another incorrect explanation of the residence requirement. It says that “If the petitioner has been residing in China for longer than six months, the I-130 may be filed at the CIS offices in Beijing or Guangzhou.” Yet the law is clear that a person resides in a place the moment it becomes his or her “principal, actual dwelling.”

Note that although the below Beijing instructions are dated August 3, 2012, the Beijing Field Office has confirmed that these instructions are current as of August 8, 2013.

Also see Issues for U.S. Expats Filing a Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative.



U. S. Department of Homeland Security
USCIS, American Embassy Beijing
PSC 461, Box 50
FPO AP 96521-0002

General Information on Applications for Permanent Residence

Thank you for your inquiry regarding your interest in filing a petition for an immediate relative. We hope that the following general information will be of some assistance in answering the question you have posed.  Please understand that each individual’s circumstances are special or, depending on your particular needs or plans, may differ in significant aspects and that we may not be able to answer every question in this brief response.  Please note that more instructions, legal information and application forms are found at or at  Specific immigration regulations can be found in 8 Code of Federal Regulations (8CFR) or you may also refer to the Immigration and Nationality Act; both references are found in the USCIS website.  In very complex cases you may need legal assistance.

The Beijing office of DHS/USCIS accepts immediate relative petitions (Form I-130 and G-325A) from U.S. citizens who are residing in USCIS, Beijing office’s Service  Area(The USCIS Beijing Field Office has jurisdiction over the municipalities under State Council of:  Beijing, Shanghai and Tianjin.  Jurisdiction extends to the northern provinces of Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jilin, Liaoning and Shanxi.  The autonomous region of NEI Mongol is also under the jurisdiction of the Beijing office.  The USCIS Guangzhou Field Office has jurisdiction over the remainder of China.). Once the petitions are accepted and approved they are forwarded to the Guangzhou Consulate for “immigrant visa” processing.  Several months after the Beijing office approves the I-130 petition, your relative will be scheduled (by the Guangzhou Consulate) to attend an interview.  For specific information on processing times you may contact the U.S. Consulate General, Guangzhou at 020-8121-8000. You may also refer to their website  An “immigrant visa” will confer permanent resident status upon a lawful entry to the U.S.  Generally, a permanent resident is a non-citizen or non-U.S. national whose actual dwelling place is in the United States.

Petitions on behalf of immediate relatives must be filed in person at the USCIS office in Beijing.

However, if you do not have a valid Chinese “Foreigner Residence Permit”, “Z” work visa, “X” student visa, or other long-term official authorization permitting you to live in China, you should file your immediate relative petitions with the USCIS Service Center who has jurisdiction over your home state in the U.S. (Please see the I-130 form instruction).  Absent evidence of residence in China, such as your valid Chinese “Foreigner Residence Permit”, this office will not adjudicate an immediate relative petition, and jurisdiction rests with the office where you have legal residence.

In addition to all of the supporting evidence requested on the instructions provided on the application forms, we require that you provide Chinese Notarial translations of all documents written in the Mandarin language.  If you have documents written in languages other than Chinese or English, you must provide documents authenticated by the embassy of the country where they were issued.   English translations must be provided.

If you file the petition in person at the CIS office in Beijing, we require that, at the time of application, you present your passport, the passport of the beneficiary, and photocopies of the passport biographic page.

This office does not accept direct payments and on the day you submit the application to us you will be provided a payment slip and will be asked to pay all application fees at the cashier’s window located at the American Citizen Services window of the U.S. Embassy.  The embassy cashier can accept cash (USD or RMB) and credit cards issued by a US bank.

For security reasons, the Beijing office is unable to accept walk-in applicants and you must first obtain an appointment.  You may call 10-8531-3111 or e-mail to to schedule an appointment.

The location of the DHS/USCIS Beijing Office is:

U.S. Embassy
Tian Ze Road
Chaoyang Dist., Beijing

If you feel that the information we have provided or the information found on the USCIS website is insufficient to address the specifics of your case, you may wish to contact an immigration attorney. Unfortunately, government offices cannot provide applicants with specific, personal advice, on how their case should be best handled. We trust you have found this general information to be sufficiently informative to help you begin the application process.  All forms you need are downloadable from the Internet at

Before you file an immediate relative petition with the USCIS Beijing office, please use the checklist attached below to make sure your petition is complete.

I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) Checklist

1. Please note the following items on Form I-130 (the following items must be completed).

  • Part B and C Name of the beneficiary must be consistent to the one in the passport.  Any other names used should appear in item 7 of Part C (Other Names Used, including maiden name)
  • Item 11 of both Part B and Part C (Names of Prior husbands/wives) must be completed.  If not applicable in this case, please write “none”.
  • Item 18 of Part C (Address in the United States where your relative intends to live) must be completed.
  • In item 20 of Part C (If your relative’s alphabet is other than Roman letters, write his or her name and foreign address in the native alphabet), please write in Chinese characters the beneficiary’s name and address, including ZIP code.
  • Part D. You must answer questions 1 and 2. Do not use “N/A”
  • Part E. Must be signed by the Petitioner (U.S. Citizen)

2. Filing fee (Currently $420.00).

3. Copy of the petitioner’s valid U.S. passport (copies of both the biographic page and current visa must be provided).

4. Copy of the petitioner’s valid Chinese visa (“Z” or “X”), and/or the Foreigner Residence Permit

5. Notarial Translation of the Marriage Certificate (if married in China), or certified copy of the Marriage Certificate (if married in the U.S.), or authenticated copy of the Marriage Certificate (if married in other country/area).  If the marriage certificate was issued in other country/area and is in foreign language, an official English translation must be attached.

6. Proof of legal termination of all previous marriages (i.e. divorce decree and/or death certificate), if applicable.  The document(s) should be a). notarial translation (if issued in China); or b). certified copy (if issued in the U.S.); or c). authenticated copy with official English translation (if issued in other country/area and in a foreign language)

7. Please also provide a copy of the marriage certificate and a copy of all Divorce Certificates (if applicable).  The original documents must be presented while filing the petition in person at the USCIS Beijing office.

8. Form G-325A for both the petitioner and the beneficiary (must be completed and signed). Regarding the item “Applicant’s employment last five years. (If none, so state) list present employment first”:

  • Employment also includes studies.  If the applicant (either the petitioner or the beneficiary) is/was a student during a certain period in the last five years, please list the name and address of the school, and specify the occupation as “student”.
  • If the applicant is/was during a certain period in the last five years staying at home as a homemaker, please list it and specify the occupation as “homemaker”.
  • The time frame for each entry on the G-325A form should be continuous.

9. Personal photo for the petitioner and the beneficiary (1 for each, US passport color photo, 2 inch by 2 inch.  The photos must be in color with full face, frontal view on a white to off-white background.  Head height should measure 1” to 1 3/8” from top of hair to bottom of chin, and eye height is between 1 1/8” to 1 3/8” from bottom of photo.  Your head must be bare unless you are wearing a headdress as required by a religious order of which you are a member.  Using pencil or felt pen, lightly print your name on the back of the photo.  ).

10. Copy of the beneficiary’s valid passport (the biographic page).

Note: in addition to the required documentation listed above, you should submit one or more of the following types of documentation that may evidence the bona fide of your marriage.

A. Documentation showing joint ownership or property; or
B. A lease showing joint tenancy of a common residence;
C. Documentation showing co-mingling of financial resources; or
D. Birth certificate(s) of child(ren) born to you, the petitioner, and your spouse together; or
E. Affidavits sworn to or affirmed by third parties having personal knowledge of the bona fides of the marital relationship. (Each affidavit must contain the full name and address, date and place of birth of the person making the affidavit, his or her relationship to the petitioner of the beneficiary, if any, and complete information and details explaining how the person acquired his or her knowledge or your marriage); or
F. Photographs of the wedding, other photos before and after the wedding.
G. Proof of joint travel: copies of tickets, boarding passes, etc… showing the names of the      beneficiary and the petitioner.
H. Honeymoon: dates of your honeymoon, proof of where you went, how long you stayed.
I. Any other relevant documentation to establish that there is an ongoing marital union.


All documents that are in languages other then English must be translated.  The translator must certify that they are fluent in both languages:

I hereby certify that I am fluent and competent in both English and _____ and that I have translated the attached/above document from ______ into English. The translation is true and correct to the best of my knowledge.


I-130 Petition for Step-Child

A separate petition must be filed if the USC is also petitioning the stepchild (to be eligible for the petition, the child must be under 18 years when the USC married the petitioned spouse).  Supporting documents include all those needed for the petition filed for the spouse, plus a Notarial Birth Certificate of the child.  However, the step-child does not need to complete form G-325A or submit a photo.  Filing fee is also $420.00.

Revised on 8/3/2012

5 responses to “USCIS Beijing Filing Instructions for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative”

  1. […] articles, Issues for U.S. Expats Filing a Form I-130, Immigrant Petition for Alien Relative and USCIS Beijing Filing Instructions for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative). Will some citizens move abroad just to expedite the […]

  2. Mark Wlodawski Avatar
    Mark Wlodawski

    I’m in Beijing now and the certified English translation of my Chinese marriage certificate requirement is insufficient. It needs to be government-notarized, and this requirement almost cost me my interview but I found a translator who could also get the notary within a day. Take that, office staff who told me I couldn’t get it in less than a week. Also their list of official translators is very out of date.

    1. Gary Chodorow Avatar


      Sometimes enforcing the rule of law requires lawyers, legal research, legal briefs, and legal advocacy. This may be one of those times.

  3. Justin Avatar

    The above USCIS instructions state, “If you have documents written in languages other than Chinese or English, you must provide documents authenticated by the embassy of the country where they were issued.” However, this is also nowhere to be found on the official I-130 instructions. Is this in practice something they usually enforce? Thanks.

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