Over the past few months, USCIS has introduced a slew of new forms. It seems as though every area of immigration has been impacted – from employment to family to humanitarian. Sometimes change is good. This doesn’t appear to be one of those times. Today, we’ll focus on the new I-130 and I-130A.

The I-130 is the foundation for family-based petitions. We use it for adult children filing for their parents, for parents filing for their minor children, for siblings filing for each other, but it’s most commonly used for people petitioning for their foreign-born spouses.

The I-130 recently went from two to twelve pages long. Why? Because USCIS wants to know more and more about the petitioner – the US citizen or lawful permanent resident who wants their loved one to be with them in the US.

The old I-130 asked for the current address, place of birth, marriage information and that was about it when it came to the petitioner. For spousal petitions, each spouse also had to also complete a G-325A, which listed out employment and residence history for the last five years (among other biographic information). Parents/children and siblings didn’t file a G-325A along with the I-130. The data collected by USCIS on those petitioners was scant – but there was really no need for more.

But now USCIS wants to know the history and biographic details of every US citizen or lawful permanent resident petitioner – from parents’ names and places of residency to height and weight to the names of all of the petitioner’s previous spouses – as well as their employment and residency history for the past five years.

Why does USCIS want this information on the petitioner? For background checks. One might even call it extreme vetting.

Then there’s the entire brand new I-130A. This is for the beneficiary and takes the place of their G-325A in spousal I-130 application petitions. The I-130A asks for a lot of the same biographic information, but in a different format. The data collection itself isn’t new or shocking. But, if you’re going to file a green card application (I-485) at the same time, you’ll still need to fill out a G-325 for the beneficiary. It’s double the work for what appears to be no good reason since it’s nearly identical information on the I-130A as on the G-325A. Why does USCIS complicate everyone’s lives?!

It does make you wonder. USCIS says that attorneys shouldn’t be necessary to file these applications; that applicants should be able to file on their own. For the most part, I agree. Absent complicating factors, it should be possible for someone of average intelligence to complete a form, follow instructions and complete the process. But these new forms are needlessly complicated and cumbersome. If anything, USCIS is making it more attractive for people to hire attorneys by making it more complicated.