How to Apply for a Green Card for Your Parent: A Step-by-Step Guide
The family-based green card category includes green cards for parents. Citizens of the United States can apply for a green card to allow their parents (and other immediate family members) to live in the United States. Citizens of the United States who apply for the green card for their parents must be at least 21 years old.
Furthermore, immigration law considers U.S. citizens’ parents to be immediate relatives. As a result, parents take precedence over other family relationships based on preferences. Immigrant visas for immediate relatives have no numerical limit. In other words, when you assist your mother or father in obtaining permanent residence in the United States, you won’t have to wait as long as you would in other family categories. The process begins with a petition to the government for your mother or father.
Step 1 – Eligibility for Parent Green Card
Only U.S. citizens over the age of 21 can apply for a parent green card.
USCIS doesn’t discriminate when helping families reunite. Even step-parents are eligible for a parent green card.
When the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, USCIS was instructed to classify same-sex marriages as straight marriages for immigration purposes. This enables same-sex parents to obtain a parent green card as well.
Step 2 – Filling Out Form I-130
Form I-130 is a Petition for Foreign Relative and is the first form submitted. An individual application needs to be submitted for each parent.
In addition to your finalized I-130 form, the U.S. citizen will submit the following documents.
- Proof of citizenship in the United States (passport, birth certificate);
- Evidence of the family relationship (birth certificate to confirm the relationship between the U.S. Citizen and their relative);
- Recent passport-sized photographs of the U.S. citizen and their parent;
- Fee for filing.
Step 3 – Applying for the Green Card
This step depends on whether the parent is currently in the USA or abroad when the USCIS approves the I-130 petition.
If In the United States
If the parent is in the U.S., they should fill out Form I-485, Request to Adjust Status. This request enables an individual to apply for a Green Card or legal permanent residence without leaving the United States.
If the parent is in the United States and meets the eligibility requirements for simultaneous filing, Form I-485 can be filed at the same time as form I-130, Petition for Foreign Parents.
Filling Out Form I-864
Form I-864 is a document of support that is submitted with Form I-485. This is required since it confirms that the U.S. citizen accepts the financial responsibility of their immigrant parents.
Step 4 – Biometric Appointment
Your parent should receive a notice known as Biometrics Appointment with a time, date, and location where they will be required to report after filing the application. They will have to have their picture and fingerprints taken at this appointment.
When USCIS has completed processing your parent’s request, they will notify you of the Green Card interview date, time, and location. A list of required documents is included in the interview notice.
Step 5 – Employment Authorization Card and Travel Authorization
Parents can apply concurrently for work and travel authorization with the green card application. This will allow them to have federal government identification and social security. They may also be authorized to travel in case of an emergency before the green card application is approved.
Step 6 – Green Card Application Interview
After receiving the necessary documents, the USCIS will schedule a meeting with both sponsors and parents at the local USCIS office. If the sponsors’ parents live in another country, the embassy closest to them will hold the interview. Any parents on a non-immigrant visa will interview at the nearest USCIS office.
The interview aims to verify the relationship sponsor has with the parents, study their required information, and verify the correctness and authenticity of the documents you submitted as part of the green card process.
What If the Parent Resides Outside of the United States?
If the parent lives abroad, the Form I-130 should request processing of the green card at the closest US Embassy or Consulate abroad. After the approval of the Form I-130, the USCIS will forward the approved petition to the Department of States’ National Visa Center for processing of the Immigrant visa and affidavit of support. Once the documentation is complete, the NVC will forward the application to the US Embassy to schedule the interview for the green card application process.
How Long Does It Take to Receive a Parent Green Card?
The processing time for family-based green card applications, such as parent green card applications, is typically faster than other green card applications. Depending on application backlogs that have been accumulated at the service center, the USCIS service center where the petition is filed can affect the length of time it takes to process the petition. The processing times can be checked here.
What is the Total Cost of Green Card Application
The government fee for Form I-485 to get a parent green card is $1,225. This includes the biometrics fee. Parents age 79 or older do not pay the biometric fee and only pay $1,140.
The government fee for form I-130 is $535.
Doctors may charge $300+ for medical exams, varying on the services.
What To Do If the Application is Denied?
If USCIS denies your application for your parent’s green card, the denial notice will most likely contain the reason behind it. Denial can be for a variety of reasons. USCIS, for instance, may be unable to prove that you are legally related to your parent. There could be errors on the green card application as well. Alternatively, USCIS may not believe you are financially capable of supporting your parent.
Though this guide most probably will assist you in preparing for the lengthy and difficult process of obtaining a green card, any mistake in your application can be excessive and result in denial or delay. The best guide for the process is a qualified family green card lawyer.
The highly qualified immigration attorneys at Terra Immigration will assist you in filing your petition. They will assist you in avoiding general immigration pitfalls due to their expertise in the field.
Attorneys at Terra Immigration speak English, Spanish, and Portuguese. It’s much easier to avail their services as they are available in person and online. So contact them now if you are thinking of applying for a parent green card!