Essential Tips on Getting a Green Card for a Parent

How do you bring your parents into the United States to live? Getting a Green Card can be difficult, but US citizens can bring parents in relatively quickly.

Can I apply for a green card for my parents?

A US Citizen over 21 can apply for their parents. Lawful Permanent Residents cannot.

How long does it take?

Parents of US citizens are “Immediate Relatives.” They file a petition and application and only wait for processing.

What do I do first?

Consult an immigration attorney. Immigration can be a tricky process, and someone skilled in immigration law can help. If you are inexperienced, your application may face problems.

File a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Parent first. Each parent needs their form, which includes information and documents necessary to apply for a Green Card.

What information do you need to file a Form I-130?

Bring information about the Petitioner (US citizen) and the Beneficiary (foreign parent). You prove the parent-child relationship with birth certificates or other documents. Bring marriage certificates for all parties. If you were adopted or had unusual circumstances, bring documents to help establish the relationship.

Does it matter if your parent is in or outside of the US?

If the parent is lawfully in the US and has a visa, you file an Adjustment of Status. This form (I-485) is separate from Form I-130. Both forms should be filed together.

Parents outside the US must file their forms I-130 and have it approved first. After its approval, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) sends the file to the National Visa Center who will request additional documents from you. You will also need to submit a Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). Next, the case moves to the local US Embassy or Consulate for Consular Processing.

In either case, the next step is an interview with the parent(s).

What is an Affidavit of Support? Do you qualify to sponsor it?

You must show that someone in the US (not necessarily you) can support your parents so they will not become a Public Charge. Look at Form I-864p for poverty guidelines. Find your household size including your supported parents. Your income must be more than is listed on the chart. Co-sponsors may also have to submit Affidavits.

How do your parents receive their Green Cards?

Following their Adjustment of Status interview, USCIS mails the Green Card to the address on record. If your parents had Consular Processing instead, you would need to make a separate online request.

Where do you file the Form I-130?

Find the proper address on the USCIS website. There are different addresses for different states.

What fees are required?

You pay filing fees for the I-130 and the I-485 or Consular Processing. You will likely pay fees for medical exams, translation services, and the physical Green Card.

How to get a Green Card for your parents?

Consult an attorney before starting, especially if anyone has previous negative interactions with immigration or law enforcement.