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Complete guide to green card application for parents

If you are a United States citizen and more than 21 years of age, you can request a green card for your parents. After obtaining the green card, your parent will become lawful permanent residents of the United States, which grants them to work and live in the United States.

To get complete details of how to apply for the green card for parents, continue reading this guide.

How to apply for a green card for parents

If you are willing to obtain the US green card for your parents, make sure they are eligible and allowed to get admitted to the United States.

Step 1: Make sure that your parent is eligible and admissible to the United States.

You don’t have to stress much about the eligibility requirements for the US green card for the parents as its criteria are very straightforward. For the parents of the United States citizen for submitting the permanent resident application, they will require to be the legal parents of the US citizen. Legal parent includes:

  • Adoptive parents,
  • Step-parent
  • Birth parents
  • Father to the child born out of the wedlock who were authorized before the 18th birthday,
  • A father to a child born out of wedlock but was not authorized prior to their 18th birthday.

Even if your parents meet the eligibility criteria for getting the green card, they might not get admissible to the United States. Especially after, implementing the recent US immigration laws like the public charge rule might make it harder for some parents to obtain the green card. Public charge rule says that if any of the immigrants is going to become the burden on the United States government by asking:

  • If their parents have received the public benefit at any time in the past?
  • Are they willing to receive any of the public benefits in future? In case your parents have obtained public benefit in the United States, then there are more chances that their admissibility in the United States might get affected.
  • If they are willing to become the public charge, your parents do not get admissible to the United States.

In addition to the public charge rule, there are several other admissibility criteria for parents to get admitted to the United States. So before applying for the green card, the parents make sure they are entirely admissible to the United States.

Step 2: Completing an immigration petition form on your parent behalf

Now, when you are aware that your parents are eligible and admissible to the United States, then you can proceed to filing the immigration petition on their behalf. Application form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the petition form you need to fill to obtain the green card for your parents.

After sending the petition form on your parents’ behalf, you will be required to submit the filing fee of the petition form, i.e. $420. You will be required to submit the separate petition form I-130 along with its filing fee of $420 for each parent to obtain the green card.

You can download the petition form by visiting the USCIS website. It takes up to 3 months for the USCIS to approve your form I-130. After submitting the petition form to the USCIS doesn’t mean that your parent received the permanent resident status. They still required to follow some additional steps.

After obtaining permanent residents for 5 years you can also apply for US Citizenship by Naturalization.

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Step 3: Prepare the evidence that you have an “eligible relationship” with your parent.

USCIS will only approve your petition form I-130 if they found that you have proved that you are sponsoring the parent who is legally your parent. Listed below are some of the documents that you required to submit depending on the parent for whom you are requesting permanent resident status:

If you are petitioning for your mother, then you will be required to submit the following documents:

  • You will be required to present the application form I-130
  • You will require submitting the photocopy of the birth certificate that contains your name and your mother name.
  • A valid photocopy of the certificate of naturalization or US passport only if you did not take birth in the United States.

If you are petitioning your father, then you will require including the following:

  • You have to submit the application form I-130
  • A valid photocopy of your birth certificate that contains you and your both parents name.
  • In case you are not born in the United States, then you will require submitting the photocopy of the certificate of naturalization or US passport.
  • A photocopy of parent civil marriage certificate

Father (and I was born out of wedlock and not legitimated by my father before my 18th birthday)

If you are petitioning for your father, but you were born out of wedlock but was not legitimated by your father prior to your 18th birthday. Then you will require to submit the following documents to prove that you are petitioning your actual parent:

  • You must submit Form I-130
  • You will need to submit your birth certificate’s photocopy that contains your name and your father name.
  • If you are not born in the United States, you will be required to submit a valid photocopy of your certificate of naturalization or a US passport.
  • You will have to present proof that you and your father have an emotional bond before getting married or crossing the age of 21 years, whichever is earlier.

If you are petitioning for your father, but you were born out of wedlock and got legitimated by your father prior to your 18th birthday, then you will require submitting the following document to prove that you are petitioning your birth parent.

  • Required to submit the application form 130
  • You need to submit the photocopy of your birth certificate that contains you and your father’s name.
  • If you have taken birth in the US, you will have to submit the photocopy of your Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport.
  • You will have to present the evidence that you got legitimate before your 18th birthday through your legal parents, my marriage, the laws of my father‘s state or country or through the laws of my state or country.

If you are petitioning for your stepparent, then you will require to submit the following documents, which includes

  • Form I-130
  • Valid photocopy of your birth certificate that contains the name of your birth parents
  • In case you did not take birth in the United States, then you will require presenting the photocopy of your certificate of naturalization or US passport.
  • A valid photocopy of the civil marriage certificate of your birth parent to the step-parent showing that marriage took place prior to your 18th birthday
  • You will need to present the photocopy of death certificate, annulment decrees or divorce decrees to prove that if any of the previous marriage entered into through your birth parents or step-parent got terminated legally.

If you are questioning your adoptive parents, then you are required to submit the following documents:

  • Submit the form I-130
  • Submit the valid photocopy of your birth certificate
  • In case you did not take birth in the United States, then you are required to submit the photocopy of your certificate of naturalization or US passport.
  • You will need to submit the certified copy of the adoption certificate that shows that adoption occurred prior to your 16th birthday.
  • You will require submitting the statement that shows the places and date where you have lived with your parent.

While submitting your document to the USCIS make sure they are in English if not then it’s ideal choice to hire USCIS certified translation services as they can easily translated your foreign language documents into English.

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Step 4: Complete a Form I-864 Affidavit of Support for your parent

After you have prepared all the documents needed to prove your relationship with your parents, you will require filing the application form 1-864, Affidavit of Support on your parent’s behalf. This support form shows that you can support your parents financially and do not let them rely on the US government after obtaining permanent residence.

If you file the affidavit of support form either from the United States by submitting to USCIS or from any other foreign country by submitting to the department of state (DOS). In both cases, you don’t have to pay any filing fee to file the application form I-864, affidavit of support.

Step 5: Help your parent prepare their Green Card application paperwork.

After you have filed the affidavit of support form on your parent’s behalf, now it’s time to help your parents prepare the paperwork for the green card application.

Generally, there are two ways through which you can apply for the permanent resident status for your parents. The pathway and the supporting document required will depend on if your parent is currently in the United States or any other foreign country.

Note: Make sure that you translate immigrant documents in English.

Adjustment of Status: Your parent is currently in the U.S.

If your parent is within the United States, they can apply for the adjustment of status application. In order to apply for the adjustment of status, they will require filing the application form I-485, Adjustment of status. Either they can submit the form at the same time or after submitting Form I-130.

If the application form I-485 and I-130 is filed simultaneously, then the processing time for obtaining the parent green card gets shorter compared to several other filing ways only if the application form I-130 is already approved. The application processing fee of the application form I-485 is $1140, and its biometric fee is $85, irrespective of if you file the form simultaneously or not. While submitting this form, your parents must present the two passport photos, birth certificate, and state-issued identification card.

Consular Processing: Your parent is living outside of the U.S.

If your parents reside outside the US while applying for the green card, they will be required to submit the application form through consular processing through US Consulate and Embassy.

When filing the permanent resident application form through the consular processing, they will require waiting until USCIS approves your application form I-130. After the form is approved, their petition will be forward to the National Visa Centre.

The National Visa Centre will notify your parents if they receive the approved petition from the USCIS. After that, when the Visa number becomes available, then NVC will contact your parents. Then, your parent will require following some of the mentioned steps to complete the green card application:

File Form DS-261

After getting the Visa number available, your parents will require filing the application form DS-261 by visiting the United States State Department website. The time is taken for the state department website to process the application form DS-261 is 2 to 3 weeks.

Pay the Application Processing and Financial Support Form fees.

After your parent’s application form DS-261 gets processed, and then they will require submitting the filing fees of $445 online (State Department’s application fees $325 and charges of the financial support form $120).

File Form DS-260

Once your parents have filed the application form DS-261 and its filling fees, they will require to fill the form DS-260. This form is an actual green card application filed through the consular filling process. Similar to the DS-261, this form is also filed online by visiting the State Department’s website.

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Step 6: Complete optional paperwork for your parent’s Green Card Application

In case your parent is applying for a green card from within the United States, then they get several benefits which will help them when they wait for the USCIS to approve their green card application. The parent applying for the green card application can also apply for the work authorization to legally start working in the United States.

However, they can request the work authorization to re-enter the United States without a Visa when they wait for the USCIS to approve their green card. Just like the above steps, here also you will require to submit some documentation.

Also, you can refer to the green card guide for determining the easy ways to get an USA green card.

Form I-765, Work Authorization Application for Employment Authorization (EAD)

If your parents are willing to work in the United States legally, they must get a permit from the USCIS by filing the application form I-765, applying for employment authorization when they wait for the green card to be approved by USCIS.

To obtain the work authorization document, you required to pay the filing fee of $410. Once USCIS approves their work permit, then they will get Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

EAD is a document that your parent will require to show to the employer as evidence granted by USCIS to legally work in the United States.

‍Form I-131, Application for Travel Document‍

In case your parent submits the adjustment of status green card application and is willing to wait outside the United States till their green card application gets approved by the USCIS. Then they will require filing the application form I-131, application for a travel document.

It s an application for advance parole issued by the US government to your parents, allowing your parent to travel outside and re-enter the United States without requesting a visa. Having advance parole makes it even more convenient for your parents to re-enter the United States.

Step 7: Your parent need to complete a medical exam and obtain Form I-693.

USCIS asks your parent to undergo the medical examination, including required medications and vaccinations from the USCIS approved medical doctor. Therefore, your parent needs to schedule an appointment with the USCIS appointed doctors.

If your parent is applying for the green card application outside the United States through consular processing, then they will require going to the Department of State panel physicians of their own choice.

They can get the complete list of the appointed doctor by consulting the US Consulate or Embassy from where they are applying for the green card application. The appointed doctor will set the fees for the medical examination.

When visiting the appointed doctor for the medical examination, your parent will require carrying the photocopy of the application form I-693, also called Report of Medical Examination and Vaccine Record. You can easily find the updated form by visiting the USCIS website.

This form is usually used for documenting the report of the medical examination. Parents must fill up the first part of the form, but they cannot sign the form before doctors allow them.

After the medical examination is finished, the doctor will provide your parents with a completely sealed envelope that includes the parent’s medical record, which they must submit to the USCIS. They cannot open the envelope.

If you temper or try to unseal an envelope, USCIS or the Department of State will not consider the envelope. Your parents will require bringing the unopened envelope while visiting the Visa or green card interview.

In case your parent is applying for the green card from within the United States, then they will require submitting the photocopy of their application form I-693 to the USCIS along with all other required forms. They may also ask to bring an exam packet and application form I-693 during the green card interview if necessary.

However, it’s always a better option to send all the documents to the USCIS prior to the interview and when you are going for the interview, carry the original documents.

Step 8: Submit the paperwork for your parent’s Green Card application

When you have followed all the above steps thoroughly now, it’s time to be ready with all the supporting documents, Forms, filing fees and mail the entire paperwork to the US government. It is suggested to include the cover letter with your immigration packet as it contains the complete details of forms, supporting documents, and fees you submit to the NVC or USCIS.

Adjustment of Status: Require to submit supporting documents to USCIS

Parents requesting the green card by Adjustment of Status require mailing the assembled immigration packet to the U.S. citizenship and immigration services (USCIS). Your immigration documents with Forms I-130, I-485, and several other listed documents.

Supporting documents provided by you

You will require submitting the evidence that shows your relationship with your parent.

  • Marriage certificate
  • Adoption decree
  • Birth certificate

Supporting documents provided by your parents

  • Your parents will need to submit the two passport size photos.
  • A valid photocopy of the birth certificate
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
  • Government-issued ID that contains your photograph

You will require mailing your documents to the mailing address of USCIS. The mailing address depends on which courier service or postal you are using.

Consular Processing: submit supporting documents to the NVC
Once your parent files the form DS-260 online, NVC will notify you through mail or email, notifying you that they have obtained the DS-260 general on the same day. The other procedure is to submit the supporting documents to the NVC; the documents may differ from consulate to consulate. Some of the most common documents that need to be submitted are listed below :

Supporting documents require to be submitted by you (Children sponsoring the parent)

  • You must submit a photocopy of the birth certificate.
  • You need to submit a photocopy of the particular personal page of your passport.

You need to include evidence of domicile.

  • S. bank account or investment record,
  • State or Federal election
  • Evidence of address
  • S. state-issued I.D, or
  • Evidence of voting in a local

Documents that need to be submitted by the parents

  • Need to present the evidence of nationality
  • Photocopy of birth certificate
  • Photocopy of the particular personal page of the passport
  • Must submit the Adoption documents in case of adoptive parents
  • Must submit the certified copy of the marriage certificate and marriage termination documents(Divorce or death) only in case of any previous marriage
  • Must present the valid photocopy of the military record if necessary.

A valid photocopy of the police clearance letters:

  • Only from the country or city where they were arrested this is required only if they were arrested in the past
  • From their home country only if they have resided there for more than six months
  • They will require showing the police clearance letters of any place other than their home country on which they have a residence for 12 months or more since the age of 16 years.
  • Also, require to present the police clearance letter from the prison and court records if ever sentenced due to crime.

Make sure all the police clearance letters must be in English language. If it is not in English don’t worry you can choose Police Clearance Translation Services USA for translating police clearance letters in English.

All consulates have their requirements for submitting the supporting documents. You will have the option to email, mail, or upload the supporting documents to the national visa center. After submitting all the documents to the NVC, they will assemble all the supporting documents parent’s application forms and then forward them to the consulate processing for processing your parent’s green card application case.

Every applicant needs to submit the documents as instructed by the national visa center(NVC). Many consulates ask the applicants to submit a photocopy of all the paperwork. On the other side, some consulates ask to upload or email the digital copies.

If you did not submit the documents as asked by the national visa center. Then there are higher chances that consulates may deny your green card application. However, it is good to include the cover letter with the immigration packet containing the information related to forms, fees, and supporting documents that need to be submitted to the NVC.

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What happens after you submit your parent’s Green Card application?

After you have submitted the green card application on your parent’s behalf, they will get a notice regarding the application to their mailing address which is registered with the USCIS for both the permanent residence status application that was filed either through the consular process or through adjustment of status. Parents will get the form I-797C, a notice of action to confirm that USCIS has accepted their application which is now ready for getting processed.

In some circumstances, USCIS might send the request for evidence notice to the given mailing on your parent’s application. This notice is only sent if USCIS detects some of the documents missing or for requesting additional documents.

After 2-3 weeks of filling the permanent residence, your parent might be obtaining the notice of Biometrics appointment, which contains the date, location, and time of the appointment.

While at the appointment center, your parent will require to get their photographs and fingerprint registered. Once USCIS has reviewed your application, and everything seems fine, USCIS will send the notice to your parents with the place, date, and time of the green card interview. In the interview, notice will also include the documents required to bring during the interview.

If the interview is located at one of the United States centers, you need to accompany your parent during the interview and ensure that no documents are missing.

A green card interview is the last step of the green card application. The immigrant officer taking the interview approves the application quickly after the interview or they may take some time to make their decision. After making the decision, they will contact your parent through the provided mailing address.

Conclusion

We hope all the information related to a green card for parents given in the guide is helpful for you in understanding the application process of green cards for parents.

Moreover, if you are willing to marry your spouse, who is a United States citizen, it’s better to refer to the K-one visa guide to get to know how to get a K-1 fiancé visa.

Parent Green Card FAQs

Can a Green Card holder request for a Green Card for their parents?

If you are a green card holder, you are not granted to apply for the green card for your parents. Only US citizen are allowed to apply for the green card for their parents who are 21 years of age and above. In the only situation when a green card holder can apply for the green card for their immediate relative or family member, that is when they are applying green card for their unmarried children (minors) under the 21 years age or for their spouse.

What is the processing time to get a Green Card for my parents?

Parent green card application takes lesser time to get processed when compared with several other green card applications. However, the complete green card application process for the parents takes anywhere in between 7 to 15 months. Also, it depends on the USCIS service centre with whom you have filed the petition, which might increase the processing time and also, it depends on the clarity of your applications and documents submitted.

Can my parent live in the United States while their Green Card application is pending?
Your parent can only live in the United States while their green card application is pending if they have applied for the green card through adjustment of status. If your parent wishes to leave the United States while their green card application is getting approved by the USCIS, then it’s always a better idea to apply for advance parole before leaving the United States so that you won’t face any problem while returning to the US.

Can my parent work while their Green Card application is pending?

Yes, if your parents applied for the employment authorization by filing the form I-765 along with their green card application and they obtained the work permit from the USCIS, then they are granted to work in the United States legally.

Does my parent need to stay in the U.S. after they get their Green Card?

Yes, after your parents get the green card, they will require staying in united states. In addition, if they spend more than six months outside the United States, then there are higher chances that their permanent resident status will be revoked.

How can I check the status of my parent’s Green Card application?

There are multiple ways through which you can easily check the current status of your parent’s screen card application. The most convenient way to check your parent’s green card application status is by checking the status online using the USCIS case tracker or the State Department case tracker; it all depends on how you have filed the green card application.

In case your parent filed the green card application from the United States, then you check the current case status by entering the receipt number on the USCIS case status tracker from the Form I-797C receipt notice, which they had obtained when USCIS received the green card application.

In case your parents filed and submitted the green card application from outside the United States, then you have the option to check the current case status using the NVC case number from the State Department’s case status tracker.

What should I do if USCIS denies my parent’s Green Card application?

In case USCIS rejects your parent’s green card application, then they will send you the notice explaining why they rejected your parent’s green card application.

The reasons for rejecting the application may vary. For example, suppose, USCIS may reject the application if the submitted evidence was not sufficient to prove that you are legally related to your parent.

The other reason may be because you did a mistake while filing the green card application or USCIS might detect that you are not financially stable to support your parent.

If due to any of the reasons, USCIS rejects your parent’s green card application, then you can consult the immigration attorney.

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