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

Obtaining a Green Card for parents to live in the United States falls under the family-based green card category. The USCIS gives special immigration priority to parents to obtain a Green Card faster compared to other family members. Additionally, 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.

In this article, you can learn step-by-step how to obtain a Green Card for your parents and allow them to stay in the United States.

Eligibility Requirements

The first eligibility is the sponsor must be a U.S. citizen at least 21 years old to bring his or her parents to the United States. 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 then 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 a legal parents to U.S. citizens. Legal parents like:

  • Biological parents
  • Step-parent
  • Adoptive parent

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 received any public benefits earlier and are affected by the public charge rule.

Read Also: Possible ways to Get a Green Card

Submit The Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

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

If your parents are outside the U.S.

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 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.

File Form DS-261

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 State Department’s application processing fee and the financial support form I-864 fee.

File Form DS-260

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

Medical Examination

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.

Supporting Documents

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

U.S. citizen 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 that is handling their case.

If your parents are inside 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 parent’s 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.

Supporting Documents

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 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 2 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-specific.

Read Also: How to Get a Green Card for Siblings

Documents to Submit Proof of Qualifying Relationship

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

I am a U.S. citizen and petitioning for myDocuments to be Submitted
Mother1. Birth certificate copy which shows 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. Birth certificate copy which shows your name and your both parents name

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 was born out of wedlock and not legitimated by your father before my 18th birthday)1. Birth certificate copy which shows 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 was born out of wedlock and legitimated by your father before my 18th birthday)1. Birth certificate copy which shows 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.

Submit Form I-864 Affidavit of Support for Your Parent

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 is to show the evidence that you are financially prepared to support your parent as a green card petitioner, so your parent will not rely on the U.S. government for financial support.

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

Submit Optional Forms For Your Parent’s Green Card

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.

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

If your parents are willing to work in the U.S., first they need to fill the 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.

Form I-131, Application for Travel Document

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 Advance 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.

How Much Does it Cost to Apply for a Green Card for Parents?

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

Apart from the above-mentioned fees, there are other fees related to the application but it is optional. If you required 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 expense, mailing cost, photograph cost, document fees are there.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Green Card for the Parents?

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

Need Assistance with Your Parent’s Green Card Application?

If you’re planning to get a green card for your parents, the best option is to get an experienced lawyer consultation. ImmigrationDirect ‘s easy-to-use online software makes it easy for your immigration petition. And we understand the significance of receiving correct guidance to accomplish tasks promptly. Based on your current situation you will also get customized filing instructions. We provide our services with lawyer consultation. Mistakes on your USCIS application forms can lead to rejection, denial, or delay in processing your application. Get started with your application today!

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