How Can I Get a Green Card for My Parents?

Many immigrants wonder if they can help their parents immigrate to the United States. The simple answer is yes. The USCIS has always had an interest in keeping families together. A great reason for green card holders to get U.S. citizenship is to use that status to help their parents get green cards in the United States. 

Family-based immigration starts a chain of immigration that can spread throughout an extended family. Immigrants have chosen the United States to relocate their families for centuries. As a U.S. citizen, you can be the foundation on which your family is established in the United States.

Three Basic Requirements to Get Green Cards for Your Parents

In order to help your parents immigrate to the United States, you’ll need to meet three basic requirements:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen
  • You must be at least 21 years old
  • You must show proof of parental relationship

You Must Be a U.S. Citizen

Aside from giving advice to their parents about immigration from their own experience, permanent residents and green card holders can not help their parents immigrate to the United States. You must be a U.S. citizen to sponsor your parents for citizenship.

You Must Be at Least 21 Years Old

Those age 20 or younger will have to wait until their 21st birthday if they would like to sponsor their parents for U.S. citizenship.

You Must Show Proof of Parental Relationship

What this means is that you’ll have to piece together birth certificates, naturalization certificates, marriage certificates, or any other documents to show that you and your parents are legally related.

elderly couple with american flag draped over their shoulders
An elderly couple with an American flag draped over their shoulders. Learn how you can help your parents get their green cards.

Green Card for Parents: Petition for Alien Relative

The first step in any family-based immigration process is filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

To better understand how this form is used, imagine it being part of a conversation between you and the U.S. government. Using Form I-130, you ask the U.S. government to let your parents come to the United States.

Form I-130 is usually filed with supporting documents that tell the U.S. government why your parents should be allowed to come to the U.S. In this case, the supporting documents should show your legal relationship with your parents.

Green Card for Parents: Immigration

When the petition is approved, your job in the immigration process for your parents is effectively over. Now it is your parents’ responsibility to finish the process by applying for a green card.

When a visa number becomes available, your parents can apply for immigration to the United States at a U.S. consulate. Alternatively, they can file an application to adjust their status if they are currently and legally in the U.S.

There are, of course, many other smaller steps along the way, but this is a general outline of how a U.S citizen can apply for the immigration of their parents.

Not a U.S. Citizen Yet?

Are you a permanent resident but don’t have citizenship yet? Helping your parents get green cards is an excellent reason to take the next step and apply to become a U.S. citizen. Make sure you qualify and get started completing your paperwork now. Remember, you can start helping your parents immigrate today!

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