Visa Guide

GREEN CARD FOR PARENTS: Application Guide and Requirements

Obtaining a Green Card for Parents is one of the types of family-based green cards. Parents are prioritized by the USCIS, and they can receive a Green Card faster than other family members. This post will teach you everything you need to know about sponsoring a parent to join you in the United States.

Who can Sponsor Green Cards for their Parents?

Citizens of the United States who are 21 or older can sponsor Green Cards for their parents. Permanent residents cannot sponsor Green Cards for their parents.

How to Apply for Your Parent’s Green Card

After completing Form I-130 for each parent—one for the mother and one for the father—you submit the $535 petition filing fee. Even if USCIS takes action on the petition, this fee cannot be waived or refunded. The fee can be paid by personal cheque, cashier’s check, or money order. A separate Form G-1450 must be submitted with your application for credit card payments. The USCIS states that “filing or approval of this petition does not grant your relative any immigration status or benefit”. There are no yearly green card limits for spouses, parents, or minor children.

Step 1: Confirm that your parent is qualified and not ineligible.

Your parent must be eligible and admissible to the United States in order to obtain a Green Card.

In general, the eligibility conditions for parent Green Cards are uncomplicated. A lawful parent of a U.S. citizen is required to file for permanent residence in the United States. Among the “legal parents” are:

  1. Parents at birth
  2. Adoptive mother or father,
  3. Step-parent
  4. Father of a child born out of wedlock who was legalized before the age of 18, or
  5. A father of a kid born out of wedlock who was not legitimated before reaching the age of 18.

Even if a parent is eligible for a Green Card, they may be denied entry into the United States. Recent enforcement of US immigration regulations, such as the Public Charge Rule, may make it more difficult for certain parents of US citizens to obtain a Green Card. The Public Charge rule determines whether an immigrant is likely to become a burden on the United States government by asking the following questions:

  • Have they ever gotten government assistance?
  • Will they receive them in the future? If your parent has received public benefits while in the United States, their eligibility for a Green Card may be jeopardized.

If your parent is likely to become a Public Charge, they may be barred from entering the United States.

In addition to the Public Charge rule, there are other responsibilities for parents of US citizens.

Step 2: File an immigration petition on behalf of your parent (the “beneficiary”)

Once you’ve determined that your parent is eligible and admissible, you can file an immigration petition on their behalf. To file for a Green Card for your parents, complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Once completed, send Form I-130 to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with the $420 petition filing fee. You must submit a separate Form I-130 and $420 filing fee for each parent seeking a Green Card. Form I-130 is available on the USCIS website. USCIS typically approves Form I-130 within three months. Filing Form I-130 does not grant your parent(s) legal status; they must still take other measures.

Step 3: Gather proof of your “eligible relationship” with your parent.

Once you prove that your parent is your parent, US Citizenship and Immigration Services will usually grant your I-130 petition. The required evidence to present varies slightly depending on whose parent you want permanent residence for. This is shown in the table below.

I am petitioning for myI must Include
Mother– Form I-130– Copy of my birth certificate with my name and my mother’s name– Copy of my Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if I was not born in the U.S.
Father– Form I-130– Copy of my birth certificate with my name and the names of both parents– Copy of my Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if I was not born in the U.S.– Copy of my parents’ civil marriage certificate
Father (and I was born out of wedlock and not legitimated by my father before my 18th birthday)– Form I-130– Copy of my birth certificate with my name and my father’s name– Copy of my Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if I was not born in the U.S.– Evidence that an emotional or financial bond existed between my father and me before I was married or reached the age of 21, whichever came first
Father (and I was born out of wedlock and legitimated by my father before my 18th birthday)– Form I-130– Copy of my birth certificate with my name and my father’s name– Copy of my Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if I was not born in the U.S.– Evidence that I was legitimated before my 18th birthday through the marriage of my natural parents, the laws of my state or country (of birth or residence), or the laws of my father’s state or country (of birth or residence)
Step-parent– Form I-130– Copy of my birth certificate with the names of my birth parents– Copy of my Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if I was not born in the U.S.– Copy of the civil marriage certificate of my birth parent to my step-parent showing that the marriage occurred before my 18th birthday– Copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees to show that any previous marriage entered into by my natural or step-parent ended legally
Adoptive parent– Form I-130– Copy of my birth certificate– Copy of my Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if I was not born in the U.S.– Certified copy of the adoption certificate showing that the adoption took place before my 16th birthday– Statement showing the dates and places I have lived with my parent

Step 4: Fill out an I-864 Affidavit of Support for your parent.

Once you have gathered all of the necessary documentation to demonstrate that you have an eligible relationship with your parent, you (the Sponsor) must file Form 1-864, Affidavit of Support on your parent’s behalf. Form I-864 is used to demonstrate that you are willing to financially support the Green Card petitioner (your parent). This is so that they don’t have to rely on the US government once they become a Green Card holder. Form I-864 can be filed from inside the United States to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) or from outside the United States to the Department of State (DOS). In both cases, no filing fee is required to file Form I-864. Check out this USCIS tutorial for more information on preparing form I-864.

Step 5: Assist your parent with the papers for their Green Card application.

Now that you’ve completed Form I-864 on your parent’s behalf, it’s time to assist them with their Green Card application papers. There are two ways to apply for your parent’s permanent residence. The path to pursuing, as well as the supporting documentation required, will be determined by whether or not your parent is currently in the United States.

Status Change – Your parent is currently residing in the United States.

Your parent can apply for an Adjustment of Status if they are physically present in the United States. To apply for an Adjustment of Status, your parent must file Form I-485, Adjustment of Status, either concurrently (concurrently) or after they file Form I-130 (non-concurrently).

When Form I-485 and Form I-130 are filed concurrently, the processing period for the parent Green Card is significantly reduced, as long as the companion Form I-130 is finally accepted. Form I-485 has an initial filing fee of $1140 and an extra biometrics charge of $85 whether filed concurrently or not. In addition, your parent must produce two passport photos, government-issued identification, and their birth certificate.

Consular Processing – Your parent lives outside of the United States.

If your parent is living outside of the United States when they apply for a Green Card, they will do so through the consular processing method – through a U.S. embassy or consulate. Your parent would have to wait until USCIS authorized their Form I-130 under consular processing. Their immigrant petition will be transmitted to the National Visa Center once approved (NVC). When the NVC receives the accepted petition from USCIS, they will notify your parents. Once a visa number is obtained, the NVC will contact your parent. Then, in order to finish their Green Card application, your parent must do the following:

1. Fill out Form DS-261.

Your parent will need to file Form DS-261 on the US State Department’s website after they have a visa number. The State Department requires 2-3 weeks to handle DS-261.

2. Fees for Application Processing and Financial Support Form must be paid.

Following the processing of your parents’ DS-261, they will be required to pay $445 in fees online: the State Department’s application processing cost ($325) and the financial support form fee ($120).

3. Fill out Form DS-260.

After your parent has completed Form DS-261 and paid their fees, they must complete Form DS-260. The actual Green Card application for consular filing is DS-260. This is an online application on the State Department’s website, just like the DS-261.

Step 6: Finish any remaining documents for your parent’s Green Card application.

If your parent is applying for a Green Card from within the United States, they can apply for additional benefits to aid them while they wait for USCIS to accept their Green Card. Your parent can apply for lawful work authorization in the United States. They can also apply for permission to re-enter the United States without a visa while waiting for their Green Card. These options, like the previous phases, have forms and documentation that must be submitted.

Work Authorization Application for Employment Authorization, Form I-765 (EAD)

If your parent wants to work lawfully in the United States, they must first obtain permission from USCIS by submitting Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, while their Green Card is being processed. This work permit application has a $410 filing cost. Once USCIS confirms their work permit request, they will be granted an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD is what they will show employers as confirmation of their work authorization. Check read our post on applying for a work permit to learn more about the process of receiving a Work Permit for your parent.

Form I-131, Travel Document Application

If your parent applied for an Adjustment of Status Green Card and will be spending time outside the United States while waiting for it to be accepted, they might consider filing Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. Form I-131 is an application for “Advance Parole.” Advance parole is permission from the United States government to depart and re-enter the country without the need for a visa. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will decide whether or not to allow them into the United States at the airport or border. Having Advance Parole increases the likelihood that your parent will be able to re-enter the United States without incident.

Step 7: Your parent undergoes a medical examination and obtains Form I-693.

USCIS requires your parent to have a medical examination, including any necessary immunizations, performed by a doctor in the United States. Your parent must make an appointment with one of the USCIS-approved doctors. Parents who live outside the United States and wish to apply for a Green Card through consular processing must consult a Department of State panel physician of their choosing. They can obtain a list of designated doctors by contacting the US Embassy or Consulate in the country from which they are applying.

The fees for the medical examination are determined by the designated doctors. Your parent must print and bring a copy of Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccine Record, with them when they see a designated doctor. The form’s most recent version is available on the USCIS website. This form is used to record the findings of their medical exam. They must complete Part 1 of the form but not sign it until the doctor instructs them to do so.

Following the medical examination, your parent will be given a sealed envelope containing their medical documents to submit to USCIS. This envelope should not be opened or tampered with! Any tampered or unsealed packet will be rejected by USCIS and the Department of State. Your parent must bring this unopened mail to their Green Card or Visa interview.

Read Also: AUTOMATIC VISA REVALIDATION: Eligibility and Requirements

If your parent is applying from within the United States, they should provide a copy of their Form I-693 to USCIS along with the rest of the needed forms. They can also bring Form I-693 and the exam packet to their Green Card interview if necessary, but it is preferable to submit everything to USCIS ahead of time and then bring the original to the interview.

If your parent is applying from outside the United States, they should follow the guidelines provided by the NVC and the consulate processing their application to determine what to do with their Form I-693.

Step 8: Submit your parent’s Green Card application paperwork.

It is now time to gather the forms, supporting documents, and filing fees and ship your parents’ documentation to the United States government! We recommend including a cover letter in the petition bundle that describes the forms, fees, and supporting documentation you are sending to USCIS or the NVC.

Change of Status: Submit supporting documentation to USCIS

Parents filing for permanent residence through the Adjustment of Status process should mail their immigration packet to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). It must include Forms I-130 and I-485, as well as the necessary supporting documents:

 Supporting Documents Required
You– Proof of relationship with your parent (copy of a birth certificate, marriage certificate, or adoption decree)- Proof that you have maintained lawful status while in the U.S.
Your parent– Two (2) passport-size photos- Copy of government-issued ID that has photographs- Copy of birth certificate- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Submit supporting documentation to the NVC for Consular Processing.

After your parent submits their DS-260 online, the NVC will notify them via mail or email that they have received the DS-260, usually the same day. The following step will be to submit the necessary supporting documentation to the NVC. The documents necessary differ each consulate, but the following are the most frequently requested:

 Supporting Documents Required
You– Copy of birth certificate– Copy of valid passport photo page– Proof of domicile (proof of address, U.S. state-issued I.D, U.S. bank account or investment record, proof of voting in a local, State or Federal election)
Your parent– Proof of nationality (copy of valid passport photo page and copy of birth certificate)- Adoption documents, if adoptive parent- Certified copy of marriage certificate and copy of marriage termination documents (divorce or death) if any former marriages- Copy of military record, if applicable- Copy of police clearance letters from – The city and/or country where they were arrested, if they have ever been arrested      – Home country if they lived there for more than 6 months at any time in their life      – Current country of residence (if different from the country of nationality) if they have lived there for more than 6 months      – Any place outside of their home country that they lived in for 12 months or more since they were 16      – Court and prison records if ever convicted of a crime
Read Also: HOW MUCH IS A PASSPORT: 2022 Passport Fees

The rules for supplying these documents vary by consulate. The supporting documents will be uploaded, emailed, or mailed to the NVC. The NVC will then gather all of your parent’s forms and supporting papers and forward them to the consulate handling your parent’s case.

It is crucial to provide all documentation in the manner requested by the NVC. Some US consulates need physical copies of everything, while others accept digital copies through email or upload. Failure to present these documents in the manner requested by the NVC may result in the consulate rejecting your parent’s Green Card application. At the top of the petition packet, we recommend including a cover letter that describes the forms, fees, and supporting documents you are sending to the NVC.

Processing Time for Green Card for Parents

Because parents are considered immediate relatives, the green card processing period for parents is currently slightly faster than for others.

After the I-130 is accepted and all filing fees have been paid, you must submit an affidavit of support for each parent, which will be forwarded to the embassy in your parent’s home country by the National Visa Center. After USCIS has authorized their I-130, they will need to file Form I-485.

What if your parents are already in America? If that’s the case, you’ll need to file both an I-130 and an Adjustment of Status (I-485) at the same time.

There are several pieces of paperwork and documents to complete when sponsoring your parents for a green card. Mistakes can be quite costly because they create extra wait time.

If your case is granted, your parent will be notified and will be required to attend a green card interview at the nearest United States consulate or embassy in their native country.

Green Card For Parents FAQs

How much will it cost for parents to obtain Green Cards?

The overall cost of obtaining a Green Card for a parent is roughly $1,945.

  • Form I-130 has a filing fee of $420.
  • Form I-485 has a filing fee of $1,140.
  • The cost of the medical exam will vary based on the service, however, the doctor may charge $300 or more.
  • $85 for biometrics

How long will it take to receive Green Cards for parents?

After Form I-130 is accepted, it takes between 6 and 15 months to obtain a Green Card Parents. Depending on the service facility, Form I-130 can take between 5-26.5 months to be authorized.

Can a Green Card Holder Sponsor their parents or siblings for a green card?

No, only a US citizen can sponsor parents or family members for a green card. Green card holders may only sponsor a green card for their spouse and children.

Can my parents work in the United States while their green card application is pending?

No, they cannot work or be paid unless you have applied for and received an EAD for them.


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