How Immigrants Can Sponsor Green Cards for Parents

Updated on April 10, 2024

Many immigrants in the U.S. want their parents to join them in their new country and include them in their new life. If you have a green card or you’ve become a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor and apply for a green card for your parents.

Just follow the simple steps below and you’ll get a good idea on things like the green card for parents processing times as well.

How to Sponsor a Green Card for Parents

You can follow the easy steps below to apply for a green card for your parents.

Confirm Eligibility Criteria

To sponsor your parents for U.S. permanent resident status, you must meet the following requirements:

Sponsor Eligibility

  • You must be a United States citizen.
  • You must be at least 21 years old.

Parent Eligibility

  • Your parents must qualify as your immediate relatives. As immediate relatives, there are no numerical limits on green card availability for your parents.

The rewrite makes the sponsorship requirements clear and concise by separating them into discrete sections – one for the eligibility of the sponsoring relative (U.S. citizen child) and one for the eligibility of the sponsored parents. It also explains that as immediate relatives, parents can obtain green cards without being subject to numerical limits.

File an Immigration Petition (Form I-130)

You will need to fill out and file a Form I-130 for each of your parents, as a separate application is required for each. The supporting documents listed above will need to be filed with the Form I-130.

If your parents’ Form I-130 is approved and your parents are currently outside of the U.S., they will need to attend a green card interview. This interview will be held at their nearest U.S. consulate. The green card for parents processing time can be determined by the interview. If the interview goes well, your parents will be granted a green card.

When they arrive in the U.S., an immigration officer will stamp their green card at the port of entry. They will receive their formal plastic green card at their U.S. mailing address.

If your parents are already in the U.S. on a visa, you can file the Form I-130 together with the Form I-485 Adjustment of Status application to apply for their green card.

Complete Form  I-864

The Form I-864 is an affidavit you will complete declaring that you (as your parent’s sponsor) will fully support your parents financially and that you have adequate means to do so. Your details will have to be filled in on the Form I-864, including your address and social security number. You can complete this form electronically thanks to the new 2D barcode technology.

Get a Medical Exam For Parent

All applicants for an Adjustment of Status to permanent resident has to complete a medical examination. Your parents will have to visit a doctor in order to have this requirement fulfilled. The medical doctor will complete a Form I-693 with the results.

Fill Out Form I-693

The Form I-693 reports the results of your parent’s medical examination to the USCIS. The form has to be provided in a sealed envelope. If the envelope is unsealed or tampered in any way, the USCIS will return the documents.

Optional Steps

There are additional optional steps you can also complete while you apply for your parent’s green card. These are:

  • File a Form I-765 (Work Authorization Application for Employment Authorization (EAD)): this is to apply for your parents to work legally in the U.S. while their green card application is being processed.
  • File a Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document): this is a permit (or travel document) which will allow your parents to leave the U.S. and return while their green card is still being processed.

Processing Times

With USCIS, a family takes preference. The green card for your parents’ processing times will, however, depend on the waiting time and annual cap. You can check the status of your application and processing times online.

The card is called a green card as the physical cards were green when they were first being issued. It has undergone quite a few designs and color changes, but the cards are green once again.

The Cost of Getting a Green Card for a Parent

To submit a green card application, you will need to pay the filing fee of $535 for each application (i.e. per parent). This does not include the green card application fee itself This does not include any possible biometric service fees or the doctor’s fees for the medical examination. Doctor’s fees can easily run up to over $300 per examination.

The typical cost of applying for a green card for an adult is $1,760.


Applying for a green card for your parents is a fairly simple process, but it can turn out to be costly. Don’t let finances stop you, however. Consider applying for a personal loan to help cover the cost. You can make your parents’ American dream come true.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Can U.S. citizens get green cards for their parents?

Yes, U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old can sponsor their parents for green cards, officially known as Permanent Resident Cards, under the immediate relative category.

What is the process for getting a green card for my parents?

The process includes:

  1. Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for each parent.
  2. After approval, your parents will either adjust status to a permanent resident if they are lawfully in the U.S. or go through consular processing if outside the U.S.
  3. Completing Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to demonstrate you can financially support your parents.
  4. Your parents will undergo medical examinations and attend a visa interview.

What documents are required to apply for a green card for parents?

Required documents generally include:

  1. Proof of your U.S. citizenship.
  2. Proof of your relationship with your parents (birth certificate).
  3. Completed Form I-130 and Form I-864.
  4. Your parents’ personal documents, like passports, marriage certificates, and police clearance certificates, if applicable.

How long does the green card process take for parents?

The processing time for a parent’s green card can vary greatly based on several factors, such as the service center processing the application and the country of origin. It typically ranges from several months to a year or more.

Can I sponsor a green card for my step-parent or adoptive parent?

Yes, U.S. citizens can sponsor a green card for their step-parents or adoptive parents, provided certain conditions regarding the relationship are met, like the marriage to the biological parent occurred before the child’s 18th birthday.

What is the cost to apply for a green card for parents?

The cost includes the filing fees for Form I-130 and other forms that might be necessary during the process, such as adjustment of status (Form I-485) or consular processing fees. There are also fees for medical examinations and potentially for biometrics.

Can green card holders (permanent residents) sponsor green cards for their parents?

No, only U.S. citizens can sponsor green cards for their parents. Green card holders cannot sponsor their parents and must become U.S. citizens first to do so.

Are there income requirements for sponsoring a green card for parents?

Yes, the sponsor must meet certain income requirements, typically at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, to file an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864).

What if my parents are in the U.S. unlawfully?

If your parents are currently in the U.S. unlawfully, the process becomes more complex, and they may be ineligible for adjustment of status. In such cases, it’s crucial to consult with an immigration attorney.

Can my parents work and travel with their green card?

Yes, once they obtain their green card, your parents can work legally in the U.S. and travel in and out of the country, subject to certain restrictions and requirements.

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