If you are a U.S. citizen, you may be able to help your parents obtain Green Cards in the U.S. One of the requirements for being able to sponsor your parents is being at least 21 years of age. Under the family preference category, qualifying individuals can petition to bring their parents to the U.S. as legal permanent residents. Parents are classified as immediate relatives, a category that is not required to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available. This category is not subject to the annual numerical limitations so there may not be such a long of a wait for an immigrant visa to be issued. This does not apply to those who are permanent residents. Current permanent residents are limited on who they can petition.
If you find you’re eligible to petition your parents, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires U.S. citizens to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. If you wish to petition your father and your mother, you will have to file two separate petitions. I-130 petitions are required to prove that a qualifying family relationship exists between the petitioner and the beneficiary.
Once the I-130 petition is approved by the USCIS, the petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then send the petition to the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in the country where your parents live. The NVC will mail the petitioner a Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This form is required by the USCIS and NVC to show you have adequate means to financially support your parents.
Once the I-130 petition and the I-864 are approved, the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate in the country where your parents live will contact your parents and instruct them on how to file applications for their immigrant visas. They will be informed about what applications and documents they will need to submit.
Since parents belong to the immediate relative category, they may not have to wait for immigrant visa numbers to become available. Once the consulate processes their applications, your parents will be called for an immigrant visa interview. Immigration officers will decide whether or not to approve their applications at this interview. If their interviews are successful and if they are granted visas, they can travel to the U.S. with those visas as legal permanent residents.
Adjustment of Status
If your parents entered the U.S. on valid nonimmigrant visas and they are eligible for legal status in the U.S., they may be able to go through adjustment of status. Through this process they may be able to apply for a Green Card without leaving the U.S. This applies only to those who entered the country legally and not to those who entered without inspection.
If you are petitioning your parents who are already in the U.S. on a valid visa the USCIS requires Form I-130 to be filed for them. As parents are under the immediate relatives category, Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status, can be filed concurrently. Separate forms should be filed for each beneficiary, mother, and father.
With concurrent filing, beneficiaries may be able to get their Green Cards while in the U.S. and may not have to leave the U.S. to file for immigrant visas in their home countries.
Some of the Required Supporting Documents
- For those petitioning their mother who lives outside of the U.S., Form I-130 must be submitted along with a copy of a birth certificate that shows the mother’s name and petitioners. For those not born in the U.S., a copy of their Naturalization Certificate or their U.S. passport must be submitted.
- For those petitioning their father who lives outside of the U.S., Form I-130 must be submitted with a copy of the petitioner’s birth certificate that has the names of both parents. The parents’ marriage certificate must also be submitted with the application package. A copy of the petitioner’s U.S. passport or their Naturalization Certificate, if they were not born on U.S. soil, must also be submitted.
- Born out of wedlock: for those who are filing Form I-130 for their father who lives outside of the U.S., a copy of their birth certificate with their name and their father’s name on it must be submitted. Proof that a bond existed between the petitioners and the petitioner’s father will need to be submitted with the application package as well as a copy of the petitioner’s naturalization certificate or U.S. passport if the petitioner was not born in the U.S. Different rules apply if a child was not legitimated before the age of 18 or 21. Review your instructions carefully if this applies.
- For those filing Form I-130 for a step-parent, a copy of the petitioner’s birth certificate that has the names of both birth parents must be submitted along with a marriage certificate showing your step-parent’s marriage to your birth parent. Copies of divorce decrees or death certificates showing that the previous marriages have ended legally will also need to be submitted.
- For those filing Form I-130 to petition an adoptive parent, a copy of the petitioner’s adoption certificate must be submitted. The USCIS will also require a birth certificate and a copy of the naturalization certificate of the petitioner.