Family-based Green Card Processing Times for Parents

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Immigrants who formalize their allegiance to the United States by becoming citizens can help bring their parents to live in the country as well. Although petitioning the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) requires an understanding of the rules and following a particular process, the mothers and fathers of immigrants can obtain a green card to live permanently in the United States.

Importantly, immigrants who petition USCIS for a parent’s green card must be a U.S. citizen. Immigrants who are considered permanent residents as green card holders— not naturalized U.S. citizens—cannot petition USCIS on a parent’s behalf. Besides US citizenship, the petitioner is also has a minimum age requirement and must be at least 21 years old.

Parents of naturalized U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives,” a classification has no limit insofar as the number of visas that can be issued each year. The category includes biological parents, adoptive parents and step parents.

Although the immediate relatives category can expedite the process of bringing parents to live in the country, parents can still be denied a green card if they’re considered inadmissible because of legal or economic issues.  Included on the legal side are things like a criminal convictions or immigration violations. In terms of economics, petitioners must show the ability to support parents at 25 percent above the poverty line, which USCIS has listed on Form I-864P, Poverty Guidelines.

The petition process of getting parental green cards depends on where parents are located. In cases where parents are still in their native country, petitioners will file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative where the petitioner provides proof of citizenship as well as the child-parent relationship. USCIS forwards approved visa petitions to the parent’s home country where the local U.S. consulate operates.

When parents are already in the United States legally, petitioners can bypass Form I-130 and simply file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. A couple of important notes exist with this approach. First, parents must be in the country with legal documentation—on a tourist visa, for example. Secondly, USCIS warns against stepping into fraud through bringing parents into the country on pretense and then file to adjust status later.

In sum, expediting the process of bringing parents to live permanently in the United States is straightforward and goes most smoothly when petitioners understand the whole process.

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