Due to the fact that the US Department of State has a broad presence internationally, the Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) has delegated the authority to accept and adjudicate requests from “Immediate Relatives” who are abroad under certain circumstances. In this regard, the Department of State assumed on February 1, the responsibility for certain services previously provided by the Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS) in its international offices. In this line of action, USCIS recently announced that for Form I-130, which refers to family petitions abroad, it would only be processed by their department in the US. Likewise, internationally and in certain circumstances, the form will be processed by the Department of State, which already provides this service where USCIS does not have a presence. Eligible members of active military service abroad will submit their Form I-130 locally to the Department of State. This is how certain petitioners who are not military and who meet specific criteria for consular prosecution will do.
Typically, the Department of State will process Form 130 locally if the petition falls under the general authorization criteria defined by USCIS:
• General and temporary authorizations for cases of prolonged or severe civil conflicts, or natural disaster;
• General and temporary authorizations for US military assigned to military bases abroad.
In addition to these general authorizations, the Department of State retains its discretion to accept Forms I-130 if a petitioner who is a US citizen meets the “Exceptional Circumstances” criteria, which are described in the update of his policy manual.
USCIS will continue to expand its options offered to submit applications online, which are available to those abroad. These options would save applicants and petitioners time and money, as Form I-130 must be submitted online or by mail through the secure USCIS location in Dallas for processing in the US.
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