How to Bring Your Parents to the United States
Now that you have achieved your path to U.S. citizenship, you might be feeling like there’s something missing.
Even if your parents are able to receive a tourist visa, they are only allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum of six months at a time. If that option is not favorable for you, there are ways in which your parents can become green card holders and be permanent residents of the United States. The ways in which to begin this process depends on whether your parents are currently residing in their country of residence, or if they are staying in the United States on a visitor visa. It is important to note that unless you yourself, the petitioner, are a citizen of the U.S. and are at least 21 years old, you are not eligible to petition for your parents to become permanent residents. The only time a green card holder can apply for a green card for an immediate relative is if they are applying for their spouse or unmarried children who are minors.
The first step in beginning this process is to determine the eligibility of your parents to move forward. In most cases, if you are petitioning for your mother or father who live outside of the U.S., you will need a copy of your birth certificate, a copy of your U.S. passport or certificate of naturalization (if you were not born in the U.S.), and a copy of your parents’ civil marriage certificate if you are petitioning for your father only. Along with those documents, you will need to submit a completed I-130 form, officially known as a petition for alien relative.
After gathering the required information that establishes a valid family relationship, you must also submit an affidavit of support for your parent referred to as the I-864 form. This document is required for every family-based green card petition that guarantees financial support for the beneficiary. Generally, the person that submits the I-130 is also the sponsor for the I-864, but that may not always be the case depending on your circumstances. Some of the required information needed from the sponsor when filing the I-864 include your most recent tax return and paystubs.
To apply for a green card for your parents, there are two pathways you can choose:Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of status can be filed if your parent is already physically present in the United States; however, they must have entered with a non-immigrant visa. The best example of this situation is if your parents decided to come and visit you with a visitor visa, and while they were here, you decided you want them to stay with you permanently. In this case, you will need to file the I-485 form for an adjustment of status.
The necessary documents that are needed to file include:
- Alien registration number (if applicable)
- I-94 (proof of lawful entry)
- Receipt for pending or approved I-130
- Address and employment history for past 5 years
- Marriage and divorce dates for any previous marriages
Filing for adjustment of status is a good option because it permits your parents to stay in the United States while their application is being processed. Additional forms should also be filed for your parent such as an Application for Employment Authorization (form I-765) and Application for Travel Document (form I-131). These documents will ensure your parents can work legally in the United States and travel freely outside of the U.S. until their application has been fully approved but traveling should only be done in emergency situations to ensure no complications with the application.Consular Processing
The second way your parents can receive a green card is through a U.S. embassy or consulate in their own country. This process also begins with the petitioner filing the I-130 form. Once this form is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it will then be sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), and it will remain there until an immigrant visa becomes available. The NVC will notify your parents when a visa becomes available and when they must submit additional fees and documents, such as the Application for Visa and Alien Registration (form DS-260) and form I-864. After this, the final step is an interview with the consular office before the application is approved and an immigrant visa is granted.
Along with the visa, your parent will also receive a visa packet that they will bring with them upon their arrival to the U.S. and give to the Customs and Borders Protection officer at the port of entry. Once inspected and admitted, your parent will be awaiting their green card in the mail and will have the authorization to live and work in the United States permanently.
As a citizen of the United States, you have the ability to bring your parents to the United States and help them achieve their status of permanent residency. We understand that every circumstance is unique, and everyone’s situation is different; nevertheless, we are available to discuss your options and help you decide how to move forward. While both processes have advantages and disadvantages, the good news is that these family-based petitions are considered a priority for the USCIS, and your wait time should be as minimal as possible. Due to the complexity and time-consuming nature of this process, we are equipped to put you and your family at ease by making this process as smooth as possible. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or concerns, and we look forward to speaking with you.