How To Write a Cover Letter for Your Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) Application

In a Nutshell

To get a family-based green card, you need to submit Form I-130 and supporting documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and pay the required fees. It’s a good idea to include a cover letter with your application as well. It can help keep everything organized and gives you a chance to highlight anything in your application that USCIS should know about. This article explains what a cover letter for a family-based green card application is and the elements it should include. It also includes a template you can use to write your own.

Written by Jonathan Petts
Updated May 17, 2023

What Is a Form I-130 Cover Letter?

You’ll need to file Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative if you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder who wants your family member to obtain lawful permanent resident status. You may petition on behalf of an immediate relative, such as a spouse, sibling, or parent. You may file this petition for your relatives even if they are outside of the United States. If they are abroad when you file, you’ll need to use the direct consular filing process instead of the U.S.-based adjustment of status process.

Though not required, many immigrants, sponsors, and immigration lawyers choose to include cover letters to preface a USCIS application. A cover letter is a short letter where you may introduce yourself, describe your background, list your application components, and state the specific immigration status or benefit you, your relative, or your client is seeking.

As a sponsor completing Form I-130, you can write a cover letter to explain your relationship with the immigrant applicant. You can also address any questions or unusual circumstances about your relationship. Writing a cover letter can also help you double-check whether you’ve included everything you need in the application. By writing a complete list of the documents in your package, you’ll be able to see if there’s any application component you’re missing.

Is a Cover Letter Required for My Family Green Card Application?

USCIS does not require a cover letter to process the I-130 petition. However, a cover letter can be beneficial. When sponsoring your relative to adjust status, you can use a cover letter to explain you and your relative’s circumstances to USCIS. USCIS can better understand and evaluate your application given the greater context a cover letter provides.

If there is anything unusual about you and your relative’s relationship, a cover letter also gives you the space to address these concerns. For example, if you are estranged from or have not seen your relative in a long time, you may want to use part of the cover letter to explain your situation to USCIS. You can explain why you have not been in contact for a long time and how getting a green card for your relative would help rebuild your relationship. By giving them greater clarity on circumstances like this, you can make it easier for USCIS to process your application.

What Should My Form I-130 Application Cover Letter Include?

You should begin your Form I-130 cover letter with a heading and greeting. Your heading should provide USCIS officials with your mailing address, your name, and your foreign relative’s name. Your introduction should then explain your reasons for writing this cover letter. Use your introduction to give USCIS a basic overview of your relationship and tell them you are sponsoring your relative’s green card application.

Checklist of Information To Include in Form I-130 Cover Letter

USCIS will find it most helpful if you include the following information in your cover letter:

  • Your contact information

  • The USCIS address to which you’re sending this letter

  • Your full name as the petitioner

  • Your relative’s full name as the beneficiary

  • A note stating which form and status you are filing an application for

  • A list of all the supporting documents you’ve included in this package, in bullet points:

    • Your birth certificate

    • Your relative’s passport, which must be valid for at least six months beyond their intended date of entry into the United States.

    • Two passport-style photographs that meet Department of State requirements. You and your relative must take two photos each within 30 days of filing.

    • You and your relative should each provide supporting documents relating to your address and employment histories for the last five years.

    • Your relative should also provide their I-94 information if they are present in the United States. If USCIS has involved your relative in any previous immigration proceedings, you’ll also need to disclose this.

    • If petitioning for your spouse, you’ll need to provide your marriage certificate. You must also prove that any of your prior marriages are legally terminated. For example, you may provide a divorce decree or a deceased spouse’s death certificate. Be sure to provide the date of termination if applicable.

    • When petitioning for a spouse, you’ll also need to prove that you have a bona fide marriage, meaning that your marriage is genuine. You may prove this by providing documents that show you have shared liabilities, assets, insurance, tax filings, children together, or other shared commitments.

  • Your signature and the date

Finally, you should conclude your letter by thanking USCIS for their consideration of your relative’s case. Be sure to sign and date the letter before enclosing it in the application package.

Filing Fee and Address Information for the Form I-130 Application

You may either file Form I-130 and your cover letter online or through a direct filing address in the mail. When filing, you’ll also need to include the $535 filing fee for this form. You may pay this fee with a money order, personal check, or cashier’s check. You should make any checks payable to the “U.S. Department of Homeland Security.” 

When filing at a USCIS lockbox, you also have the option to pay by credit card. To pay with a credit card, you’ll need to file Form G-1450: Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.

Note that if you are using the direct consular filing process, you’ll need to work with your local U.S. embassy or consulate to determine fees. Your embassy may also require different documentation when considering your application.

Form I-130 Cover Letter Template

You may use the following template for guidance when writing your USCIS Form I-130 cover letter. However, be sure to edit each field to reflect your own situation. The sample cover letter below is for a marriage green card. However, marriage green cards are not the only family-based green cards. You can also petition for other immediate relatives. To double-check whether you may petition for a certain relative, visit USCIS’s page on Form I-130.

You should replace each [bracketed field] with personalized information. To access an editable version of the Form I-130 cover letter sample below, you can make a copy of this sample cover letter for Form I-130.

Your immigrant relative will be known as the “beneficiary” in this visa petition. You, the U.S. citizen sponsoring your immigrant relative, are the “petitioner.” Note that you must be a U.S. citizen or green card holder to successfully sponsor your foreign relative’s immigrant visa application.

[Preparer Street Address]

[Preparer City, State  ZIP code]



[Relevant USCIS mailing address]

RE:[Marriage Green Card Application]

Beneficiary:[Immigrant’s Full Name]

Petitioner:[Sponsor’s Full Name]

To Whom It May Concern:

Enclosed, please find my [Marriage Green Card Application] for [Immigrant’s Full Name], the beneficiary, and [Sponsor’s Full Name], the petitioner and [U.S. citizen spouse] of the beneficiary. 

The following documents accompany and support this application:

  1. Filing Fee Payments

    1. Check for [Current Fee Amount] for Form I-130

    2. Check for [Current Fee Amount] for Form I-485

    3. Check for [Current Fee Amount] for Biometrics

    4. OR 

    5. Form G-1450 (credit card charge authorization if you completed one)

  2. Form G-1145 (e-notice authorization if you requested them in our system)

  3. Petitioner’s Form I-130

    1. [List of supporting documents]

  4. Beneficiary’s Form I-130A (if this application is for a Marriage Green Card)

    1. [List of supporting documents]

  5. Beneficiary’s Form I-485

    1. [List of supporting documents]

  6. Petitioner’s I-864 petition

    1. [List of supporting documents]

  7. Beneficiary’s Form I-944

    1. [List of supporting documents]

  8. Beneficiary’s Form I-693

    1. [List of supporting documents]

  9. Beneficiary’s Form I-765

    1. [List of supporting documents]

  10. Beneficiary’s Form I-131

    1. [List of supporting documents]

If you have any questions or concerns, please call me at [(000) 000-0000].  Thank you very much for your prompt consideration of my [Marriage Green Card Application].


[Immigrant’s Full Name]

Tips for Writing Your Family Green Card Cover Letter

When writing your cover letter, be sure to write as clearly and concisely as possible. USCIS will find it more helpful for a letter to have a clear summary of your application materials than for a letter to be too detailed in unnecessary areas. Be sure to use bullet points when laying out your application contents in the supporting documents category.

Within your letter, be sure to mention that any documents you’ve provided are accurate and true. You should also note that these documents are acceptable for USCIS, meaning that they are unaltered, original documents or photocopies. If you need to include any certified translations in your application, you should also mention this and note that you’ve included both the original non-English and translated documents.