How to Help a Parent Get a Green Card

how to help a parent get a green cardTo help a parent get a green card, the eligibility requirements are rather simple. You must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. Although it gets a bit more complicated, this privilege extends to eligible step parents and adoptive parents.

What’s more, parents are considered immediate relatives. Consequently, parents get priority as compared to other preference-based family relationships. In other words, there is an unlimited number of visas available. No limits or long waits will apply when you help your mother or father obtain permanent residence in the United States. The process begins by filing a petition for your mother or father.

Unfortunately, permanent residents cannot use the petition to help a parent to get a green card. The best solution is for the permanent resident to naturalize as a U.S. citizen and then submit a petition for the parent. Download a free guide about Becoming a U.S. Citizen or start Form N-400, Application for Naturalization.

File Form I-130 to Help a Parent Get a Green Card

By filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, you are establishing a relationship between you and your parent and also requesting that a visa number be reserved. When the I-130 petition is approved, the government is acknowledging that there is a valid relationship and that a visa number has been requested.

Fortunately, parents of U.S. citizens are considered immediate relatives. This is a favorable classification in immigration law as there are no limits on the immediate relatives to obtain a green card. Preference categories, on the other hand, can require several years to obtain a visa number as there are restrictions on the number of people that can obtain a green card through a preference category. Learn more in Overview of the U.S. Immigrant Visa Process.

Submitting Proof of Eligible Relationship

Again, the purpose of filing Form I-130 is to establish the legitimacy of the relationship between the petitioner (you) and the beneficiary (parent). Therefore, it’s imperative to submit evidence of a valid relationship. Based on the specific type of relationship, the requirements vary. When you file the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, you will also submit the following supporting documentation.

If you are petitioning a mother, you will need to submit:

  • A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and your mother’s name
  • A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization or U.S. passport if you were not born in the United States

If you are petitioning a father, you will need to submit:

  • A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and the names of both parents
  • A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or U.S. passport if you were not born in the United States
  • A copy of your parents’ civil marriage certificate

If you are petitioning a father and you were born out of wedlock and were not legitimated by your father before your 18th birthday, you will need to submit:

  • A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and your father’s name
  • A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or U.S. passport if you were not born in the United States
  • Evidence that an emotional or financial bond existed between you and your father before you were married or reached the age of 21, whichever came first

If you are petitioning a father, and you were born out of wedlock and were legitimated by your father before your 18th birthday, you will need to submit:

  • A copy of your birth certificate showing your name and your father’s name
  • A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship or U.S. passport if you were not born in the United States
  • Evidence that you were legitimated before your 18th birthday through the marriage of your natural parents, the laws of your state or country (of birth or residence), or the laws of your father’s state or country (of birth or residence)

If you are petitioning a step mother or step father, you will need to submit:

  • A copy of your birth certificate showing the names of your birth parents
  • A copy of the civil marriage certificate of your birth parent to your step-parent showing that the marriage occurred before your 18th birthday
  • A copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees to show that any previous marriage entered into by your natural or step-parent ended legally

If you are petitioning an adoptive parent, you will need to submit:

  • A copy of your birth certificate
  • A copy of your Certificate of Naturalization or Citizenship if you were not born in the United States
  • A certified copy of the adoption certificate showing that the adoption took place before your 16th birthday
  • A statement showing the dates and places you have lived together with your parent

A complete set of instructions can be found with USCIS or by using CitizenPath’s Form I-130 preparation software. If you are helping both parents get a green card, you will need to file a separate Form I-130 for each parent.

Generally, most people can file the I-130 petition on their own. However, adopted petitioners that want to help a parent get a green card should consult with an experienced immigration attorney. The laws surrounding adoptive relationships are complex and can be best addressed by an attorney.

Help a Parent Get a Green Card

How to help a mother get a green card

Filing Form I-130 is just the first step to help a parent get a green card. When the Form I-130 is approved, it is not the grant of permanent resident status (green card). It is simply the recognition by the U.S. government that you have a valid relationship.

Your parent must also apply for permanent residence, and the application will only be reviewed after the I-130 petition has been approved. There are essentially two ways that your parent can apply for the green card. Your parent must apply for permanent residence through one of the following two paths.

Consular Processing – Parent is Living Outside the U.S.
If the mother or father that you have petitioned is living abroad, he or she will have to wait until the Form I-130 is approved before starting the green card application process through a U.S. embassy or consular office. This is known as consular processing.

Adjustment of Status – Parent is Currently in the U.S.
If the mother or father that you have petitioned gained legal entry into the United States (through a visa or other means), then later decided to apply for a green card, he or she may be eligible to file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status, at the same time as the I-130 petition. When filed concurrently, the green card application will be processed more quickly. Your parent may only file Form I-485 if he or she is already in the U.S. This is known as adjustment of status.

An Important Note About Visa Fraud
When United States grants a foreign alien a tourist visa or some other non-immigrant visa, it does so with the understanding that the visitor intends to return to the place of origin. However, if a foreign alien uses a non-immigrant visa as a way of gaining U.S. entry with the actual goal of adjusting status, the U.S. government considers this visa fraud. In this circumstance, the government is likely to deny a green card based on the misuse of the non-immigrant visa.

Your parent should not travel to the U.S. on a temporary visa with the intention of staying permanently because you will file Form I-130 and I-485. This is considered a misuse of the visa and the green card application will most likely be denied.

Your Parent Must Not be Inadmissible

Regardless of your parent’s eligibility for permanent residence, your mother and/or father also must also show that they’re not inadmissible to the United States. In other words, they’ll need to demonstrate that they don’t pose a danger to U.S. society on financial, health, security, immigration violation, or criminal grounds.

  • Financial
    You’ll need to show sufficient income or assets to support your parents at 125% of the U.S. poverty guidelines (in addition to supporting your own family). If your parents can’t support themselves, this measure helps to ensure that they won’t depend on government assistance. To see the current poverty guidelines levels, see Form I-864P.
  • Health
    Your parent will be required to have a medical examination conducted by a USCIS designated physician. The examination is required to establish that an applicant is not a public health risk such as a carrier of a disease that presents a public health risk, or having a dangerous physical or mental disorder. See Form I-693.
  • Immigration Violations
    Your parent’s immigration history will be reviewed. The application will likely be denied if your parent has overstayed a visa by six months or more, or if you parent has ever entered the country unlawfully. The government will also seek to determine if the parent’s visa (if applicable) has ever been misused.
  • Criminal Record
    Your parent will certainly run into problems if he or she has committed certain crimes, like aggravated felonies, drug crimes, or acts of terrorism.

If you believe that you mother or father may be inadmissible for any reason, contact an experienced immigration attorney before filing any USCIS form. A waiver may be available in certain cases.

Abandonment of Residence

help a parent get permanent residence for a green card

A green card is intended for immigrants who intend to live in the United States permanently. After all, it is known as a permanent resident card. Thus, obtaining a green card for your parents is not a good strategy so that they can make extended visits to the U.S. more easily. If at any time the U.S. government believes that your parent does not intend to make the U.S. a permanent home, a green card can be revoked.

If your parent leaves the U.S., even for a short time, and upon return the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer believes that their real home is outside the U.S., the officer can deny entry to the U.S. and revoke the green card. Travel outside the U.S. of six months or longer will likely raise questions about residence. Travel of a year or more raises a presumption that they have abandoned their residence.

About CitizenPath

CitizenPath is the online service that makes immigration forms simple. The website provides simple, step-by-step guidance through USCIS applications and petitions. The low-cost service helps to simplify the process by explaining each question and providing alerts if your answer to a question could be a problem. Most people do not need a lawyer to prepare USCIS forms, but many need a little assistance. That’s where CitizenPath can help. CitizenPath provides support for the Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130), Citizenship Application (Form N-400), Green Card Renewal (Form I-90), and several other popular forms.

Source: USCIS