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    Many newly naturalized US Citizens seek to obtain a green card for parents. Lawful permanent residence is immediately available to the parents of US citizens who are over the age of 21. In order to qualify, the US citizen must be residing in the United States and be willing to financially sponsor the parent (or parents) for the green card. If the child does not have the financial resources to sponsor the parent, a family member or friend can help with the financial sponsorship. A green card for parents of current lawful permanent resident green card holders is not available; only US Citizens can immigrate one or both parents.

    In the US

    For parents physically located in the US, the US citizen adult child and foreign national parent will apply for the green card using the adjustment of status process. Because the foreign national parent is considered to be the immediate relative of the US citizen child, many issues that would make adjustment of status impossible for another type immigrant will be waived for the parent. For instance, some parents who are present in the United States unlawfully can take advantage of the adjustment of status process and stay in the US for the duration of processing, while other types of green card applicants would need to return to the home country and apply there. Parents who entered the US unlawfully, however, may be unable to adjust and should consult an attorney prior to applying.

    green card for parentsTo begin the adjustment of status process for parents of US citizens over the age of 21, the immigration lawyer will prepare an immediate relative green card petition to be filed on behalf of the US citizen child, as well as an adjustment of status application to be filed on behalf of the foreign national parent. Among the items necessary for proper filing are the parent’s completed immigration medical exam, filing fees, birth certificates, financial support documentation and, if necessary, proof of parent/child relationship. Depending on the circumstances of the parent’s current immigration situation, the immigration lawyer may elect to also request permission for the parent to have temporary work and travel privileges while the green card application is pending.

    After the application package is received by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), the parent will be scheduled to attend a biometrics (fingerprinting) session at a location closest to where they live. Information obtained at the biometrics appointment will be used by immigration officials to conduct a thorough background check of both US and international criminal data bases.  Once the background check has been completed, USCIS will determine whether parent and child will be required to attend a green card interview at a local USCIS office or whether the parent green card application can be approved without an interview. If an interview is necessary, many cases will be verbally approved prior to the end of the interview. A green card will be delivered in the mail within weeks. If so desired, the parent can apply for US citizenship beginning five years after issuance of the parent’s green card.

    Outside the US

    The process for obtaining a green card for parents of US citizens when the parent is located outside the US is a bit different than if the parent is in the US. The US citizen child begins the process by submitting a petition to USCIS from within the United States. Once USCIS approves the initial immediate relative petition, the application package moves to the US State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) where each party to the application (parent and child) will be responsible for completing individual tasks. The US citizen child must complete and submit a satisfactory affidavit of support in which the child agrees to be financially responsible for the parent. The foreign national parent, on the other hand, will be responsible for completing State Department visa forms and gathering necessary vital records from government officials, such as birth certificates and police certificates. Applicants who have retained an immigration lawyer will simply provide the required information to the lawyer so that the lawyer can deal with USCIS, the NVC, and the Department of State.

    Once the application forms and required documents meet with NVC approval the parent will be scheduled to appear at their local US Embassy or Consulate for an interview. Prior to the interview, however, the applicant will also undergo an immigration medical exam. It is not typically necessary for the US citizen child to attend the green card interview abroad. If approved at the interview, the parent will receive an IR5 visa and will be required to enter the US within six months (or less). Upon entry, a request for green card printing will be transmitted by US border patrol (CBP) to USCIS; the green card should arrive in the mail within weeks along with a social security card.

    Green Card for Parents Issues

    Unlike some family green card cases, parents of US citizens do not have to wait in line to immigrate to the US. Parents of US citizens can apply for a green card as soon as the child turns 21. However, there are a few issues that typically arise in a parental green card case that could cause the application to be denied. First, parent and child must be able to prove their familial relationship to the satisfaction of US immigration or US consular officials. For some families, this means undergoing DNA testing to determine parentage. Other issues arise when adopted children or stepchildren wish to apply for a green card for their parents, as special rules apply to these cases. Another common issue in green card for parents cases has to do with the ability of the applicant to prove that the parent will not become a public burden, either due to financial concerns or health issues. This is especially relevant for older or elderly parents. A US immigration lawyer can help maximize chances for a smooth experience. Contact us today for a free consultation.