How to Obtain Green Card for Parents: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Obtaining a Green Card for your parents to live in the United States can be a fast and easy process that falls under the family-based green card category.

The USCIS gives special immigration priority to parents to obtain a Green Card. Compared to other family members, it’s a much faster process because there is no limit to the number of Green Cards available for this category. Therefore, there is no need to wait for the availability of visa numbers. 

Applying for a green card for your parents involves several steps, which can be taken after you have gained an understanding of the green card for parents processing time 2024. In this article, you can learn how to obtain a Green Card for your parents that allows them to stay in the United States legally and indefinitely.

Green Card Processing Time for Parents in 2024: What to Expect

When it comes to obtaining a green card for parents, it’s important to note that the green card for parents processing time can vary. Many people often ask, how long does it take to get a green card for parents? And this question is particularly relevant as the parents’ green card processing time is subject to change due to various factors.

The processing time to receive a Green Card for parents by a US citizen’s petition is faster than that for another family-based green card. The expected timeframe to receive the green card is 12 to 15 months. Some cases may differ, and processing times could vary depending on the specific circumstances.

Eligibility Criteria for Parental Green Card Application

The first eligibility is that to apply green card for parents, the sponsor must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. Permanent residents of the U.S. are not eligible to file such a petition to bring their parents to the U.S. The only option for green card holders to sponsor their parents is to become U.S. citizens and apply.

The second eligibility is to ensure that your (U.S. citizens’) parents are eligible and admissible to the United States. The only eligibility is the parents have to be legal parents to U.S. citizens. Legal parents are considered to be

  • Biological parents,
  • Step-parents,
  • Adoptive parents.

In some cases, the parents may be inadmissible even if they are eligible to obtain a green card. This is due to the recent enforcement of immigration laws, such as the public charge rule. Your parents are inadmissible to the U.S. if they received any public benefits earlier and are affected by the public charge rule.

Read Also: Possible ways to Get a Green Card

How to File Form I-130 for Your Parents: A Step-by-Step Guide

After the confirmation of your parent’s eligibility and admissible to the U.S., the process of applying for a green card for parents involves submitting the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. You need to file two separate forms to USCIS if you need a green card for each parent.

Consular Processing for Parents’ Green Card: Key Steps

If your parents live outside the U.S., they need to process their green card application through consular processing. Once the I-130 petition filed has been approved by USCIS, the petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will inform your parents regarding the I-130 petition approval. Your parents will be notified once the visa number is available.

Necessary Steps: Completing Form DS-261 for Parents Abroad

Your parents need to file Form DS-261: Online Choice of Address and Agent on the U.S. State Department’s website. Once DS-261 is processed, your parents need to pay the State Department’s application processing fee and the financial support form I-864 fee.

The Crucial Stage of Filing Form DS-260 in Parental Green Card Process

After DS-261 filing, your parents need to file Form DS-260, which is the Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application. This form is the actual green card application form for consular processing.

Medical Examination for Parents’ Green Card: Requirements and Procedure

USCIS requires your parent’s medical examination report to confirm they are not a public risk. Your parents need to visit the Department of State panel physician to find the U.S.-based medical doctors list. After paying the medical examination fees and checking with the doctor, your parents must have a copy of Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination, and Vaccine Record.

Required Supporting Documents for Parents’ Green Card Application

If your parents file to get a green card through consular processing after DS-260 is received by NVC, the following supporting documents need to be submitted.

  • U.S. citizens should submit:
    • Birth certificate copy,
    • Passport photo page copy,
    • Domicile evidence (address proof, U.S. state-issued I.D, U.S. bank account or investment record, proof of voting in a local, State, or Federal election).
  • Your Parents should submit:
    • Nationality evidence (valid passport photo page copy and birth certificate copy),
    • Adoption documents, if adoptive parent,
    • Marriage certificate copy and early marriage termination documents (divorce or death),
    • Military record copy, if any, 
    • Police clearance letters copy from your state, city.

Note: Consulates have varying requirements for submitting supporting documents, which can involve uploading, emailing, or mailing them to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will consolidate all the necessary forms and supporting documents for the parents and forward them to the consulate handling their case.

Adjustment of Status: Applying for a Green Card from Within the U.S.

If your parents live inside the U.S., they need to process their green card application through adjustment of status. To adjust your parents’ status, they need to file Form I-485. You can submit Form I-130 and Form I-485 concurrently or submit them one by one. Application fees and biometrics fees have to be paid to USCIS if filed concurrently or non-concurrently.

Gathering Supporting Documents for In-Country Parental Green Card Applications

If your parents file to get a green card through Adjustment of Status, they must send their immigration package (Forms I-130, I-485) and various supporting documents to the USCIS by mail.

  • U.S. citizen should submit:
    • Relationship evidence with your parent like a copy of birth certificate, marriage certificate, or adoption decree
    • Evidence of U.S. citizen and lawful status maintained while in the U.S.
  • Your Parents should submit:
    • Passport-size photos, two copies,
    • Government-issued ID copy with photograph,
    • Birth certificate copy,
    • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.

Note: If USCIS requires some more additional documents, you need to be ready to submit them. It depends on the case.

Read Also: How to Get a Green Card for Siblings

Proof of Relationship Documents for I-130 Petition Success

To get approval for your I-130 petition from the USCIS, you need to submit proof of a qualifying parent-child relationship. The table below shows the required documents for the respective relationship.

I am a U.S. citizen and I am petitioning for myDocuments to be Submitted
Mother1. A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and your mother’s name

2. Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport copy if you were born outside the U.S.
Father1. A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and both your parents’ names

2. Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport copy if you were born outside the U.S.

3. Parents’ civil marriage certificate copy
Father (You were born out of wedlock and not legitimated by your father before my 18th birthday)1. A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and your father’s name

2. Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport copy if you were born outside the U.S.

3. Emotional or financial bond evidence with your father before your marriage or before you turned 21, whichever occurred first?
Father (You were born out of wedlock and legitimated by your father before my 18th birthday)1. A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and your father’s name

2. Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport copy if you were born outside the U.S.

3. Legitimated proof before turning 18 years old, either through your parents’ marriage, the laws of the state or country where you were born or lived, or the laws of the state or country where your father was born or lived?
Adoptive parent1. Birth certificate copy

2. Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport copy if you were born outside the U.S.

3. Adoption certificate copy which took place before your 16th birthday
Step-parent1. Birth certificate copy which shows your name and your birth parents name

2. Civil marriage certificate copy of your birth parent to your step-parent that occurred before your 18th birthday

3. Divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees copy, if any, to show that the previous marriage has been legally terminated.

Completing the I-864 Affidavit of Support: A Sponsor’s Obligations

After gathering all required documents to show the qualifying relationship with your parent, as the sponsor, you must complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support on behalf of your parent. This form shows evidence that you are financially prepared to support your parent as a green card petitioner so your parents will not rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

If you submit the Form I-864 from inside the U.S., send it to USCIS or else to the Department of State if from outside the U.S. There is no fee required in both instances.

Additional Forms for Enhanced Benefits During Parents’ Green Card Process

If your parents apply for their green card application from inside the U.S., they are eligible to apply for additional benefits while they are waiting for their green card approval from USCIS. Additional benefits include obtaining permission to work legally in the U.S. and authorization to re-enter the country without a visa during the waiting period. To access these benefits, your parent must submit Form I-765 and Form I-131.

Securing Employment Authorization (EAD): Form I-765 Guide for Parents

If your parents are willing to work in the U.S., first, they need to fill out Form I-765 and submit it to the USCIS while they wait for their green card approval. Once USCIS approves their work permit request, they will issue Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to your parents. They can show that EAD document to the employer as evidence that they can work in the U.S.

Advance Parole with Form I-131: Travel Flexibility During Green Card Processing

After the submission of the I-485, if your parents are willing to spend some time outside the U.S. while they wait for their green card, they need to file the I-131 form. USCIS Form I-131 is an advanced parole application.

Advance parole is a form of authorization granted by the U.S. government that allows your parents to leave and re-enter the United States without applying for a visa.

When arriving at a port of entry or airport, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) will determine whether or not to admit your parents back into the U.S. With Advance Parole, your parents will re-enter the U.S. without any issues.

Understanding the Costs of Parental Green Card Applications

The cost of getting a Green Card for a parent varies depending on the location of the parents. The fees will vary if your parents are inside or outside the U.S. The table below shows the fees related to the forms for the respective category.

Form Filing FeeApplying from Inside the U.S.Applying from Outside the U.S.
Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative$535$535
Form I-485: Green Card Application$1,140NA
Form I-864: Affidavit of Support$0$120
Biometrics Appointment$85$0
State Department ProcessingNA$325
USCIS Immigrant FeeNA$220

As of the latest information, there is no fee to file Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) with USCIS, but there is a $120 charge by the National Visa Center to process the form for immigrant visa applicants at consulates or embassies. The biometrics service fee of $85 has been exempted for all I-539 applicants starting October 1, 2023, and this exemption will apply indefinitely. Please note that the fees are subject to change, and USCIS periodically updates its fee schedule.

If you require it for your parents, you can avail of Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization ($410), and Form I-131, Application for Travel Document ($575). These two are required if your parents are waiting for green card approval from inside the U.S.

You need to pay medical exam fees; it will vary depending on the service, but the doctor can charge $300+. Any document translation fee will be applicable, if any. Other than this, your travel expenses, mailing costs, photograph costs, and document fees are there.

Depending on the case, these payments are spread over a certain time frame. The question of how long it takes to get a green card for parents generally has an answer of approximately 12 to 15 months, but this is an estimate, and the actual how long it takes to get green card for parents can vary depending on individual circumstances.

Expert Help for Your Parent’s Green Card Application: Getting Started

If you’re planning to get a green card for your parents, the best option is to get an experienced lawyer consultation. Based on your current situation, you will also get customized filing instructions.

We provide lawyer consultation services to help you out with your filing in cases like mistakes on your USCIS application forms, which can lead to rejection, denial, or delay in processing your application. Get started with your application today!

Exploring the Benefits of Securing a Green Card for Your Parents

There are also numerous green card benefits for parents that come with obtaining this status, such as living and working permanently in the U.S. Securing a green card for your parents not only reunites your family but also provides you with the stability and opportunities that come with permanent residency in the United States

As green card holders, parents can live, work, and study in the U.S., enjoying the liberties and legal protections afforded them under U.S. law. They will also have access to government-sponsored health care and social services, the ability to sponsor other relatives for immigration, and the option to apply for U.S. citizenship in the future.

By facilitating their integration into the community, a green card can significantly enhance the quality of life for your parents and the family as a whole.

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