This guide is for people with refugee and asylum status in the U.S. seeking to reunite with their spouse, children, or parents. This guide has information about two programs: I-730 follow to join and Priority 3. Please make sure you read both guides because the two programs have different criteria.
This information comes from U.S. government guidance available about family reunification. You may be eligible for other refugee and asylee family reunification options. Information about the Direct Access Program for Syrians and Iraqis is here. Information for SIV applicants is here.
I-730 follow to join
If you were admitted to the U.S. as a refugee in the last two years or if you were granted asylum in the U.S. in the last two years, you may apply for your spouse and children to join you in the U.S. This is called petitioning for your relative. You are the petitioner.
When you fill out the form, you should provide information about yourself for each question that asks about the petitioner. Your relative who you are petitioning for is the beneficiary.
Who is eligible for the I-730 follow to join program?
The requirements are different depending on your status and who you want to sponsor. Requirements for a spouse include:
- You must have been married to your spouse before you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or at the time you were granted asylum.
- You must still be married to your spouse when you file a petition for your spouse to join you and when your spouse is admitted to the United States.
- Your spouse must not be inadmissible under any of the grounds that apply to refugees or asylum-seekers.
Requirements for your child include:
- Your child must be under age 21 and unmarried. However:
- If you resettled as a refugee, your child is eligible if they were 21 or younger at the time of your interview for refugee resettlement. Their age is “frozen” even if they are 21 or older when you submit the I-730. Your child must remain unmarried to be eligible.
- If you are an asylee, your child is eligible if they were 21 or younger at the time you filed the Form I-589. Their age is “frozen” even if they are 21 or older when you submit the I-730. Your child must remain unmarried to be eligible.
- Your relationship to your child must have existed before you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or granted asylum.
- A “parent” can include a step-parent or adoptive parent in some circumstances. Instructions for the Form I-730 are available here.
- Note: Your child must have been born or conceived (i.e., the mother was already pregnant) before you traveled to the United States as a refugee or were granted asylum.
- Your relationship to your child also must exist when you file a petition for your child to join you and when your child is admitted to the United States.
- Your child must not be inadmissible under any of the grounds that apply to refugees or asylum-seekers.
Your spouse or child does not need to show that he or she was persecuted in his or her country to qualify for this program. Other requirements for your spouse and child also may apply. USCIS’ website for Family of Refugees & Asylees gives more information.
How to Apply
You should submit:
- Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition.
- If you resettled as a refugee, a completed Form I-590 with the details of the beneficiary.
- Proof of your status as a refugee or asylee (examples include your I-94 document or Lawful Permanent Residence Card).
- Recent, clear photograph of your spouse or child.
- Proof of your relationship to your relative.
Note: A spouse or child who receives derivative refugee or asylum status cannot file a Form I-730 petition on behalf of any other relatives.
There is no fee to submit the I-730. The requirement to file the I-730 within two years may be waived for humanitarian reasons.
Evidence of Your Relationship to Your Relative
If you want to bring your husband or wife to the U.S.:
- Send a copy of your marriage certificate.
- If you were married before, send copies of documents showing that your past marriages ended. Usually, these are divorce or death certificates.
- Send documents that show that this is a real marriage and that you did not get married for immigration purposes. As a few examples:
- You can send birth certificates of your children that show that you and your spouse as their parents.
- You can send a document from a bank with both of your names on the same account.
- You can send a lease showing both of your names.
- You can send letters from people who know you or your spouse and your marriage well. They do not need to be U.S. citizens.
- They should write their full name, address, and date and place of birth.
- They should describe how they know about your relationship, such as attending your wedding or spending time with you as a couple.
- If possible, these people should have a notary sign and stamp this letter before they send it to you.
If you want to bring your daughter or son:
- If you are the mother, send a copy of the birth certificate showing your name and your child’s name.
- If you are the father, send a copy of the birth certificate showing your name and the name of the child’s mother. Also send a copy of the marriage certificate showing you were married to the mother when the child was born or before the child turned 18. If you were not married to the child's mother, read the USCIS I-730 instructions for more information about how to prove your relationship.
- If you are a step-parent, send a copy of your step-child’s birth certificate. Also submit a copy of your marriage certificate to the step-child’s natural parent.
- If you are the adoptive parent, send a certified copy of the adoption decree. Also submit proof that you lived with the child for at least two years. If you had legal custody, submit a certified copy of the custody order.
You should submit more documents if you or your spouse were ever previously married or if you or your relative has legally changed your name.
If you do not have these documents, there may be another document you can submit instead. Read the USCIS I-730 instructions for more information.
Where to Send the I-730 Form and Documents?
The filing location for a Form I-730 depends on where you live. Check this website to see where to send your Form I-730.
Before you send the I-130 form and its supporting documents, make sure to make a copy of the whole packet to keep for your own files. Even if you have the originals of the documents, you should always have one copy of the entire final submission you make. You may need it in the future.
What Happens After You Apply?
Once USCIS receives the Form I-730, USCIS will send you a receipt notice, called an I-797, Notice of Action. This says that they received the I-730. This letter is important because:
- It tells you which USCIS service center is working on the I-730.
- It gives you the receipt number for your case. This number has three letters such as EAC, WAC, LIN, SRC, NBC, MSC or IOE. It has 10 numbers after these letters. You can use this number to:
It can take several months or longer to receive an answer on the Form I-730. In some cases, your spouse may be interviewed before the petition can be approved. In all cases, your spouse will be interviewed before travel documents can be issued.
If your spouse is already within the United States, both you and your spouse will be interviewed by USCIS before the petition can be approved; in some cases, USCIS may request an interview with you even if your spouse is outside of the United States.
USCIS will send you a written notice of decision for your I-730. Sometimes, USCIS will send a letter asking you, the petitioner, to send them more evidence. This is called a Request for Evidence (“RFE”). The RFE will tell you what document is missing and give you a date that you have to send the document by. Usually, they give you 90 to 120 days.
If you are applying for your child, USCIS may also suggest you get a DNA test. This is a blood test that you and your relative take. The test can prove that you and your relative are related by blood. If USCIS requires a DNA test they will send you an RFE after you file your I-730 application explaining how to get the test.
If your spouse or child is found ineligible, USCIS will send you a letter. This letter is called a Notice of Intent to Deny (“NOID”). The letter will give you an opportunity to respond before a final decision is issued. The decision on a Form I‑730 cannot be appealed.
If your I-730 is approved and the beneficiary completes required security checks and medical exams, they will be allowed to travel to the United States. The process of travel depends on whether you have refugee status or asylee status. If you have asylee status, your approved relatives will have to book their own travel and will not receive refugee benefits through a resettlement agency. If you have refugee status, your approved relatives will have their travel booked by the IOM and will be able to receive the same type of refugee benefits through a resettlement agency as you did when you resettled.
The Priority 3 Family Reunification program might also be called:
- The P-3 program.
- The Affidavit of Relationship program.
- The AOR program.
Who is eligible for the Priority 3 program?
People who resettled as refugees, Afghan or Iraqi SIV applicants, or who have approved asylum claims in the United States can apply to reunite with certain relatives. They can apply if they still have the status of a refugee or asylee, or if they are now a legal permanent resident (green card holder), or U.S. citizen.
They can apply for their:
- Unmarried children under the age of 21.
- In exceptional circumstances, other relatives who live in the same household as a person listed above.
These individuals must be refugees. That means that they must be outside their country of origin and have documentation of their refugee status.
In the past, this program was limited to refugees and approved asylum-seekers. Since April 2021, people who came to the U.S. as Afghan and Iraqi SIV holders can apply for their relatives. This program was also limited to relatives of certain nationalities. There are no restrictions by nationality now.
Many people who can apply through P-3 also can apply for an I-730. More information on that process is above on this page.
How do I apply for my relatives?
The form used to start the P-3 program is the Affidavit of Relationship (AOR).
Individuals cannot submit their application directly to the U.S. government. Note that IRAP is not a resettlement agency and cannot prepare or file AOR forms.
To start the application process, you should contact a resettlement agency. A resettlement agency must file the application. A resettlement agency is an organization that helps refugees when they first arrive in the United States. If you came to the United States as a refugee, this could be the resettlement agency that helped you when you first arrived in the United States.
You can find a local resettlement agency by looking at this website. Click on your state to find the list of agencies in your state. Find the agency or agencies that are closest to you. Contact the agency using the phone number listed on the website.
When you call the resettlement agency, tell the resettlement agency that you are a refugee, Afghan or Iraqi, or asylee. Tell them that you want to reunite with a relative and that you want help filing an Affidavit of Relationship.
The form must be filed within five years of your admission to the United States as a refugee, SIV, or asylee.
The application process can take several years. For parent/child relationships, the P-3 process generally requires DNA testing.
You or your relative may want to ask an immigration attorney for help with this process. Here are a few resources:
- Information about asking for help from IRAP is here.
- If you are in Jordan, you can ask for IRAP Jordan’s help using this form. If the form is closed, you can check back at a later date.
- A list of free immigration legal service providers in the United States is available here.
- A list of private immigration attorneys in the United States is available here.