Guide to U.S. Citizen Petitions for Parents

Posted by in Immigrants | Updated on August 24, 2022

Green Cards are available for those parents who can be sponsored by their adult children who are U.S. citizens. Parents are considered “immediate relatives” if their child is over 21 years old and a U.S. citizen. The parents are not bound to immigration limitations.

The number of parent Green Cards granted each year is unrestricted. The application takes roughly a year to process and costs $420 in filing fees.

Is It Possible to Petition for Parents to Become U.S. Citizens?

As long as you are a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old, you can apply for Green Cards or legal permanent residency for your parents. Under U.S. immigration law, parents are “immediate relatives,” which means there is no annual restriction on the number of Green Cards granted in this classification. Thus, there is no waiting list to hold down the approval process.

The prerequisites for obtaining a parent Green Card are often uncomplicated. A parent of a U.S. citizen must be that person’s legal parent to petition for permanent residence in the United States. The following are examples of “legal parents”:

  • Birth parents
  • Adoptive mother or father
  • Step-parents
  • Father of a child born out of wedlock and legitimized before becoming 18 years old
  • A father to a child born out of wedlock who hasn’t been legitimized

Even if a parent qualifies for a Green Card, they may be denied entry to the United States. The current enforcement of United States immigration regulations, such as the Public Charge Rule, may make it more difficult for certain parents of United States citizens to get a Green Card.

Due to COVID-19, there have been significant delays in every aspect of the immigration process. There have been restrictions on government offices, in-person visits, and presidential prohibitions on admissions by new immigrant visa holders. The information below explains how the procedure usually works, but expect to see modifications and delays in the future.

Regardless of the pandemic, you will have to establish that you have enough money or property to sponsor your parents at 125 percent of the federal poverty level while providing for your own family. This ensures they are not considered “public charges” or those who are likely to get government aid depending on need.

As mentioned before, it is essential to keep in mind that your parents may be refused a Green Card if they are ineligible for other reasons, such as a criminal background or immigration infractions, the presence of a sickness that poses a public health concern, or the presence of a severe physical or mental problem.


Application Process to Help a Parent Receive U.S. Permanent Residence

In order for a U.S. lawful permanent resident to properly sponsor a family member, some particular procedures must be followed:

  •  A visa petition is filed by the U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  •  The USCIS renders a decision on the visa petition
  •  Relatives with Family Preference wait for a visa to become available
  • The immigrant files for a visa or a Green Card

First, fill out Form I-130, commonly known as Petition for Alien Relative, issued by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition is intended to establish your position as a U.S. citizen as well as your child-parent connection.

As a result, you’ll require a copy of your naturalization certificate, U.S. passport, or other evidence of citizenship, and also a copy of your birth certificate with your parents’ names on it or other documentation of their link to you. (Do not mail originals of these or any other papers as you will not get them back.) You will need to file two different I-130 petitions if you’re filing for both parents.

An I-130 petition will be sent to a U.S. consulate in your parents’ native country as soon as the USCIS accepts it. They will get instructions from the consulate on how to file their own application forms and papers. During this step of the process, you’ll need to file an Affidavit of Support on USCIS Form I-864.

Your parents will be called in for an interview at the consulate soon, and their immigrant visa should be accepted. They can enter the United States and become legal permanent residents with this visa.

If your visa petition is refused, the rejection letter will explain how to file an appeal and how much time you have to do so. The request will be forwarded to the Board of Immigration Appeals when your appeal form and associated fee have been completed.

Can Parents Adjust Their Status if They Are Already in the United States?

Yes, as immediate relatives, if your parents are in the United States after a lawful admission, such as with a visa, they may be able to apply for a Green Card without leaving the country.

If they managed to enter without inspection, for example, by being smuggled across the border, they would be unable to do so. They should consult an immigration lawyer to see if they can authentically immigrate at all, as living in the United States illegally for more than six months will result in a long-term ban on applicability.

The procedure for obtaining a Green Card from within the United States is known as “adjustment of status.” You wouldn’t have to wait for Form I-130 to be authorized. Instead, you could file it simultaneously with Form I-485. (If their I-130 has already been authorized, just send the approval notification, commonly known as Form I-797, with the modification of the status packet.)

However, don’t go through this process and think you can have your parents enter as tourists and file to adjust status. This is a dishonest use of the tourist visa, and their Green Card applications may be refused as a result.

What if Your Parents Won’t Live in the U.S. All Year?

Many individuals believe that getting Green Cards for their parents will make traveling and extended visits easier. However, this technique is incompatible with U.S. immigration regulations, which compel Green Card holders to establish permanent residence in the country.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no specific period a person must stay in the United States to avoid “abandonment of residence” difficulties. If your parents leave the United States, even for a brief period, and U.S. border officials believe their actual residence is outside the country when they return, they might be denied entry and have their Green Cards revoked.

Traveling for six months or more outside of the United States is almost certain to arouse suspicions, while traveling for a year or more increases the possibility of relinquishing U.S. residency.

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Although the notion of family sponsorship appears simple, there are several restrictions and specifics to be aware of. We advise talking with a legal expert who understands how to correctly file successful family sponsorship applications rather than risking having your attempts rejected due to a missing detail on your documentation or an inadmissible circumstance.

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