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Bringing Families Together: A Step-by-Step Guide on Applying for a Green Card for Parents
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Bringing Families Together: A Step-by-Step Guide on Applying for a Green Card for Parents

Bringing parents to the United States is a dream for many people seeking to reunite their families or provide care for aging parents. Understanding the process of applying for a green card for parents is crucial to navigating the complex world of family immigration.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll walk you through the process step by step, outlining eligibility requirements and essential information to apply for a green card for parents successfully.

By following these guidelines, you can save time and money and avoid common pitfalls, ensuring a smooth and successful journey to rejoin your loved ones.

Eligibility for Sponsoring Parents

Eligibility for sponsoring parents to apply for a green card is a crucial aspect of family immigration. Understanding the requirements and qualifications can help you navigate the process efficiently and potentially save money on unnecessary expenses. Here are some key points to consider:

  1. US Citizenship or Permanent Residency: As a petitioner, you must be either a US citizen or a lawful permanent resident (green card holder) to sponsor your parents for a green card.
  2. Age and Marital Status: If you're a US citizen, you must be at least 21 years old to sponsor your parents. There are no age restrictions for permanent residents. Additionally, you must provide evidence of the parent-child relationship, which can be established through birth certificates, adoption records, or other legal documents.
  3. Financial Requirements: As a petitioner, you must demonstrate that you have sufficient income or assets to support your parents financially so they're not likely to become a public charge. This is typically done by submitting Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
  4. Residency and Domicile: You must be able to prove that you're residing in the US either as a citizen or permanent resident and that your primary domicile is within the US.
  5. Good Moral Character: Both the petitioner and the parents seeking a green card must have a clean criminal record and demonstrate good moral character.
  6. Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status: Depending on the parents' location, the application process may involve either consular processing (if the parents are outside the US) or adjustment of status (if the parents are already in the country on a valid visa).

The assistance of an immigration lawyer can greatly benefit those looking to sponsor their parents for a green card. An experienced lawyer can provide guidance on eligibility requirements, help you navigate complex immigration laws, prepare the necessary documentation, and increase the chances of a successful application.

By working with an immigration lawyer, you can ensure that you meet the eligibility criteria for your parents' green card, navigate any complexities arising from a previous marriage entered, and effectively navigate the process with the National Visa Center to secure an immigrant visa.

parents green card

Required Forms and Supporting Documents

When it comes to reuniting families through family immigration options, knowing how to get a green card for parents is crucial.

The following comprehensive table provides an overview of the required forms and supporting documents for the application process. By understanding these requirements, individuals can streamline their applications, save time, and minimize the risk of errors or omissions.

Required Forms and Supporting Documents Description
Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative This form is used to establish the qualifying relationship between U.S. citizen or permanent resident and their parents.
Birth Certificates Provide the birth certificates of the parents to establish their identity and relationship to the petitioner.
Passports and Other Identity Documents Submit copies of the parent's passports or other identity documents to verify their identity and nationality.
Affidavit of Support and Financial Documentation Include an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to demonstrate that the petitioner has sufficient financial means to support their parents in the United States.
Proof of Parent-Child Relationship Submit documents such as the petitioner's birth certificate, parents' marriage certificate, or other evidence to establish the parent-child relationship.
Proof of Legal Status of Petitioner Provide evidence of the petitioner's U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status, such as a copy of their passport, naturalization certificate, or green card.
Photographs Include recent photographs of the parents that meet the requirements set by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Application Fees Pay the required filing fees for Form I-130 and any additional fees as applicable.

Applying for a green card can be a complex and challenging process. However, with this table as your guide, you can confidently gather the necessary forms and supporting documents. Additionally, an immigration lawyer can offer further assistance and ensure a smoother application process.

Step-By-Step Process for Applying for a Parent's Green Card

Step 1: File Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Filing Form I-130 is the first step in applying for a green card for parents. This form establishes the qualifying relationship between the US citizen or permanent resident petitioner and their parents. To complete this step, you must take the following actions:

  1. Download and fill out Form I-130: Obtain a copy of Form I-130 from the official website of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Carefully complete all the required fields, providing accurate information about both the petitioner and the parents.
  2. Gather supporting documents: Along with Form I-130, you'll need to submit supporting documents to establish the parent-child relationship and the petitioner's US citizenship or permanent resident status.
  3. Pay the filing fee: Check the USCIS website for the current filing fee for Form I-130. Prepare the payment in the accepted form, such as a check or money order payable to the US Department of Homeland Security.
  4. Submit the application package: Once you've completed Form I-130 and gathered the supporting documents, package them together with the filing fee payment. Make sure all forms are signed and dated. You can then mail the application package to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facility as indicated on the form instructions.

By following this guide and working with an experienced immigration lawyer, you can easily and properly complete the process of applying for a green card for your parents.

An immigration lawyer can provide personalized guidance, review the application package, and address any concerns or questions, ultimately saving applicants time, money, and potential complications.

green card for parents

Step 2: Wait for Approval of Form I-130

Once you've filed Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, the next step is to wait for its approval. This step is vital, as it establishes the relationship between you and your parents, confirming their eligibility for a green card. Here's what you need to know:

After submitting Form I-130, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will review the petition to determine whether the relationship meets the requirements for family-based immigration. This process may take several months, and it's important to be patient during this waiting period.

While waiting for the approval, keep track of the processing times provided by USCIS and make sure your contact information is up to date. Additionally, an immigration lawyer can help monitor the progress of your case and address any concerns that may arise.

Securing the approval of Form I-130 is a significant milestone in the green card application process for parents. It paves the way for the next steps in obtaining a green card, such as adjusting their status or consular processing.

Step 3: File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

Completing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is the next step in the process of obtaining a green card for parents. This form is used to request an adjustment of status and establish eligibility for permanent residency in the United States.

When filing Form I-485, you should include the following supporting documents and forms:

  1. Biographic Information: Provide accurate, up-to-date biographical information about yourself and your parents.
  2. Identity and Travel Documents: Include copies of your passport, birth certificate, and any other identity or travel documents.
  3. Affidavit of Support (Form I-864): Submit this form to demonstrate that you have the financial means to support your parents once they become permanent residents.
  4. Medical Examination Report: Obtain a medical examination conducted by a designated civil surgeon and submit the completed medical examination report with the application.
  5. Proof of Legal Entry: Include documentation proving that your parents entered the United States legally, such as copies of visas, I-94 arrival/departure records, or other relevant documents.
  6. Employment Authorization (Form I-765): If your parents wish to obtain employment authorization while their green card application is pending, file Form I-765 along with the required supporting documents.
  7. Application for Travel Document (Form I-131): If your parents need to travel outside the United States during the application process, file Form I-131 to request a travel document, also known as advance parole.

It's important to note that the specific requirements and documents needed may vary depending on individual circumstances.

An experienced immigration lawyer can provide invaluable guidance throughout the application process, ensuring that all necessary forms and supporting documents are accurately completed and submitted. A lawyer can also save you time and money by helping you avoid mistakes or omissions that could lead to delays or complications.

Step 4: Complete a Biometrics Appointment

As part of the green card application process, applicants are required to complete a biometrics appointment. During this appointment, you'll have your fingerprints, photograph, and signature taken for background checks and identification purposes. Here's what you need to know about this step:

  • Appointment Notice: After filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, you'll receive an appointment notice indicating the date, time, and location of your biometrics appointment.
  • Required Documents: It's essential to bring your appointment notice and a valid form of identification, such as a passport or driver's license, to the biometrics appointment.
  • Biometrics Collection: At the appointment, you'll have your fingerprints digitally scanned, get your photograph taken, and provide a digital signature.
  • Background Checks: The collected biometric data will be used to conduct background checks to ensure your eligibility for a green card.
  • Rescheduling: If you're unable to attend the scheduled appointment, make it a point to promptly request a rescheduling to avoid delays in the application process.

It’s mandatory to complete the biometrics appointment to proceed with the green card application process. An immigration lawyer can help you prepare for your appointment and give you a better idea of what to expect before, during, and after the process.

Step 5: Attend a Green Card Interview

Once the USCIS reviews the application and supporting documents, you'll be scheduled for a green card interview. During your interview, the USCIS officer will ask questions to verify the information provided in the application and assess the bona fide nature of the parent-child relationship.

Attending the green card interview is critical, and you must also make sure you're well-prepared.

Bring all requested documents, including passports, identifying documents, and original copies of supporting evidence. Take the time to review your application materials beforehand to verify their accuracy, and be ready to answer questions about your and your parents' relationship, background, and eligibility for the green card.

An immigration lawyer will play a significant role in preparing applicants for the green card interview.

Your lawyer can help review your application, anticipate potential questions, and offer guidance on how best to present your case. Additionally, they can accompany you to their interview, provide support, and address any complications that may arise.

By enlisting the aid of an immigration lawyer, applicants can more easily navigate the complexities of the green card interview, especially in cases where a financial bond existed between the natural or step-parent and the birth parent or when previous marriages were entered into.

Your lawyer's expertise can help guarantee proper preparation, address any challenges related to immigrant visas, and provide guidance on presenting supporting documents like adoption certificates showing the relationship between you and your birth parents.

sponsoring green card for parents

Step 6: Await a Decision on Your Green Card Application

After completing all the necessary steps in the green card application process, including submitting the required forms, attending interviews, and providing supporting documents, you'll await a decision on your application.

The USCIS will review your application and supporting evidence to determine your parents' eligibility for a green card. Here's what to expect during this step:

  • Processing Time: The processing time for green card applications can vary depending on factors like the USCIS workload, the applicant's location, and the complexity of the case. It's important to understand that processing times are subject to change and can be lengthy.
  • Case Status Updates: Applicants can check their case status online using the USCIS website or by contacting the USCIS customer service center. It's advisable to regularly monitor your case status for any updates or requests for additional information.
  • Approval or Denial: The USCIS will eventually make a decision on your green card application, choosing to either approve or deny it. If approved, your parents will receive a green card, allowing them to live and work permanently in the United States. If denied, you'll receive a notice explaining the reasons for the denial and the available options for appeal or reconsideration.
  • Immigration Lawyer's Role: An immigration lawyer can provide expert assistance during this step by monitoring the case progress, addressing any concerns or requests for evidence from the USCIS, and guiding applicants on the appropriate course of action in case of a denial.

Receiving a decision on the green card application is a significant milestone in the family immigration process. By staying informed about the processing times, regularly checking your case status, and seeking the guidance of an immigration lawyer, you can carry out this step with confidence and increase your chances of a successful outcome.

Step 7: Receive the Green Card

After completing all the necessary steps in the green card application process for parents, all that's left is to wait to receive the actual green card.

Once your application is approved, you'll receive an approval notice, also known as Form I-797, Notice of Action. This notice confirms that your green card application has been successful, and it typically includes important information regarding the next steps.

You should expect to receive your physical green card in the mail within a few weeks or months of receiving the approval notice.

The green card serves as evidence of your parents' lawful permanent resident status in the United States. It grants them the right to live and work in the country and provides access to various benefits and privileges available to green card holders.

You'll want to carefully review the green card upon receiving it to ensure that all the information is correct. If there are any errors or discrepancies, contact the appropriate authorities right away to have them corrected.

It's also important for your parents to keep their green cards safe and secure, as they're valuable documents that they'll need to present when traveling, working, or accessing certain benefits.

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Can I apply for a green card for both of my parents?

You can apply for a green card for both parents if you meet the eligibility requirements. As a US citizen, you can file a petition (Form I-130) for each parent individually.

The application process involves submitting necessary documents, such as the civil marriage certificate, birth parent's birth certificate, and adoption certificate (if applicable).

It's also important to establish an emotional or financial bond with your parents and provide evidence of this bond, such as financial documents or proof of shared residence.

How long does the green card application process for parents typically take?

The processing time for a green card application can vary depending on several factors, including the backlog of applications and the USCIS workload. On average, it can take anywhere from several months to over a year for an application to be processed and approved.

Can I sponsor my step-parents for a green card?

It's possible to sponsor your step-parents for a green card as long as certain conditions are met. The eligibility requirements include being a US citizen or lawful permanent resident and proving the step-parent/step-child relationship through a legal marriage between your parent and the step-parent before your 18th birthday.

Can I apply for a green card for my parents if I'm a US citizen living abroad?

Yes. However, it's important to note that you'll need to establish the intention to live in the United States with your parents once they obtain their green cards.

For example, you may need to provide evidence of your ties to the US by maintaining a residence, employment, or other connections. An immigration lawyer can help you satisfy the specific requirements for your situation.

Get Professional Support for Your Green Card Application for Parents from SimVisa

Applying for a green card for parents is an involved process that requires careful attention to detail and adherence to immigration laws and regulations.

By following the steps outlined in this article, individuals seeking to reunite their families can complete the application process with confidence. Be aware, however, that the immigration process can be challenging, and even a minor mistake can lead to delays or denials.

To ensure a smooth and successful green card application for parents, it's highly recommended that you seek the guidance of an experienced immigration lawyer.

An immigration lawyer can offer personalized advice, help you gather the required documents, prepare the necessary forms correctly, and aid you in overcoming any potential obstacles that may arise during the process. Their expertise and knowledge of immigration laws could mean the difference between approval and denial.

If you have any questions or need assistance getting a green card for your parents, contact SimVisa, a trusted immigration law firm. Our team of dedicated professionals is here to provide comprehensive support and guidance throughout the entire process of applying for a green card for parents.

Contact us today for a consultation and take the first step toward bringing your family back together.

Bringing Families Together: A Step-by-Step Guide on Applying for a Green Card for Parents
SohYoon Atac
co-founder of SimVisa

Sohyoon is the co-founder of SimVisa. She has over 15 years of immigration specific experience and as an immigrant herself, fully understands the daunting nature of navigating the immigration process.

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