The United States immigration system is intricate and navigating it can be challenging. However, as an adult US citizen, if you wish to petition for your non-citizen parents to obtain a Green Card, you have the legal right to do so.
Firstly, it’s important to understand the definition of a Green Card. A Green Card, formally known as a Permanent Resident Card, permits non-US citizens to permanently reside in the United States. It’s an essential step towards becoming a US citizen.
So, how does an adult child in the US go about obtaining one for their parents?
Before starting the process, it’s essential to ensure that both the petitioner and the parents meet certain eligibility criteria.
– a US citizen
– at least 21 years old
– able to provide financial support.
– The parents must be admissible to the United States, meaning they don’t fall under any categories of inadmissibility, such as having a criminal record or prior immigration violations.
Required supporting documents
Here’s a list of supporting documents that are typically required when petitioning for a Parent’s Green Card:
- Evidence of the Petitioner’s US Citizenship: This could be a US passport, a birth certificate if born in the US, a naturalization certificate if naturalized, or a certificate of citizenship if obtained citizenship through parents.
- Birth Certificate of the Petitioner: This document is used to establish the relationship between the petitioner and their parents.
- Marriage Certificate of Parents (if applicable): If the parents are married, the marriage certificate is used to confirm the relationship between the parents.
- Divorce Decrees or Death Certificates (if applicable): If either parent has been married previously, you will need to provide divorce decrees or death certificates to prove that those marriages have ended.
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: This is the form used to establish a qualifying relationship to the immigrant.
- Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary (if applicable): This form is only needed if the parents are currently married.
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support: This form demonstrates that the petitioner has sufficient financial means to support the parent(s) applying for the Green Card.
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status or Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (if outside the US): These forms are for the parent to apply for the actual Green Card.
- Two Passport-style Photographs: These will be used for the Green Card.
- Medical Examination and Vaccination Report: This report is prepared by a USCIS-approved doctor to confirm that the parent is not inadmissible on health grounds.
Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
The process starts by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This form serves to establish the qualifying relationship between you and your parents. You’ll need to file a separate Form I-130 for each parent.
Along with this form, you’ll submit supporting documents as detailed above, like your birth certificate and proof of your US citizenship.
Paying the Required Fees
There are costs associated with filing the I-130 form, which, as of the publishing of this article, was $535. This fee is subject to change, so always check the current fees on the USCIS website.
USCIS Processes the Application
After receiving your application, the USCIS will send you a receipt notice. Processing times can vary, and you can check the status of your application on the USCIS website.
Once your I-130 application is approved, your parents are now in the pipeline for an immigrant visa number.
Fortunately, parents of US citizens are considered immediate relatives, and there is no numerical limit on the visas available to this category, so there isn’t usually a long wait.
Filing Form I-485 or DS-260
If your parents are already in the US legally, they can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, concurrently with the I-130 or after its approval.
If they’re outside the US, they’ll go through consular processing, for which they’ll need to complete Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration.
Affidavit of Support
As the petitioner, you’ll need to provide an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to prove that you have sufficient income or assets to support your parents at 125% of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Poverty Guidelines.
Biometrics Appointment and Interview
Your parents will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and signatures for security checks.
Later, they’ll be invited for an interview with a USCIS officer, who will decide on their Green Card application based on the interview and their application’s evidence.
If the application is approved, your parents will become permanent residents of the US and receive their Green Cards in the mail. If denied, the USCIS will provide reasons for the denial, and you may have options to appeal the decision.
If approved, process to enter the United States
If your parents are approved for a Green Card while living abroad, they’ll need to go through the following steps to enter the United States:
- Receiving the Immigrant Visa Packet from the US Embassy or Consulate: Once the Green Card application is approved, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your parents’ country will provide them with an immigrant visa packet. This is often referred to as a “Visa Packet.”
- Paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee: Before traveling to the U.S., your parents will need to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee unless they fall into an exempt category. This fee is used to process the Green Card. As of the publishing of this article, this fee was $220. This fee can be paid online using the USCIS ELIS system.
- Traveling to the U.S: Your parents should travel to the U.S. before their immigrant visa expires, typically within six months from the visa issuance. They should carry the Visa Packet with them but should not open it.
- Arrival at the U.S. Port of Entry: Upon arrival, your parents will need to present their visa packet to the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. The officer will inspect the packet and ask a few questions to verify the identity of your parents and confirm that they’re eligible to enter the U.S.
- Receiving the Green Card: If everything is in order at the port of entry, your parents will be admitted as permanent residents of the United States. Their Green Card should be mailed to their U.S. address within 45 days of their arrival.
It’s important to note that the Green Card serves as proof of their lawful permanent resident status, and they should have it with them at all times. Also, remember to keep the USCIS updated if your address changes before receiving the Green Card in the mail to avoid any delays or complications.
Maintaining Permanent Resident Status
Once your parents have their Green Cards, it’s important to remember that this status must be maintained. Permanent residents should live primarily in the US, renew their Green Card when necessary (usually every ten years), and avoid criminal activity that could lead to deportation.
Maintaining permanent resident status, or keeping the Green Card active, requires adhering to several regulations. Your parents should follow these guidelines so that they don’t lose their status:
- Reside in the U.S.: Your parents must make the U.S. their primary place of residence. Extended trips outside of the U.S., typically over six months, may be seen as abandoning residency.
- File Taxes: As permanent residents, your parents are required to file income tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and declare their total global income.
- Stay Out of Legal Trouble: Any criminal activity could lead to removal proceedings and potential loss of their Green Card.
- Renew Green Card: The Green Card must be renewed every 10 years or when necessary, like if it’s lost or stolen.
- Report Change of Address: Your parents must notify the USCIS within ten days of moving to a new address.
One thing to note that sometimes can cause confusion is traveling. Green Card holders can travel outside the U.S. However, if your parents plan to be out of the country for more than six months, it could be considered as abandoning their U.S. residency.
For extended trips, they may need to apply for a re-entry permit before leaving the U.S., which can allow them to stay away for up to two years without jeopardizing their status. Always consult with an immigration attorney before planning prolonged trips outside of the U.S. to ensure your parents’ resident status remains secure.
After 5 years of Green card holding period, your parents will be eligible to apply for US citizenship as well.
This guide offers an overview of the process an adult child in the US would follow to petition for their parents to obtain a Green Card. However, immigration laws are complex and frequently updated, so it’s highly recommended to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure that all the details are correctly addressed.
This blog post should not be used as legal advice but a starting point for understanding the process.
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