Parents of the U.S. Citizen
The United States promotes family unity and allows U.S. citizens to petition for parents to come and live permanently in the U.S. You can petition for your parents (mother or father) to live in the U.S. as green card holders only if you are U.S. citizen and over 21 years old. If you are a lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to sponsor your parents for a green card.
Under Immigration and Nationality Act, parents of the U.S. citizen are classified as immediate relatives. The biggest advantage of being classified as an immediate relative for immigration purposes is they can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any numerical restrictions, unlike other close family members of the U.S. citizen. Immigrant visas are always available for parents of the U.S. citizen and they can apply for the permanent resident status without having to deal with any waiting time.
To be eligible for green card, your parents will need to provide a proof of existence of legitimate family relationship:
- Biological parents. If you want to bring your biological parents to live in the U.S., you will need to provide a birth certificate listing names of your parents and name of the U.S. citizen on it.
- Adoptive parents. If you want to bring your adoptive parents to live in the U.S., you will need to provide a certified copy of the adoption certificate showing that the adoption took place before the U.S. citizen reached 16th birthday.
- Step-parents. If you want to bring your step-parent to live in the United States, you will need to provide a copy of the civil marriage certificate of your birth parent to your step-parent showing that the marriage occurred before your 18th birthday.
How to Bring Parents to the United States?
There are two possible scenarios for parents of the U.S. citizens to apply for a green card:
- Your parents are IN the United States.
If your parent gained legal entry into the U.S. through a visa, then later decided to apply for a green card, he or she is eligible to adjust their status to permanent residents by filing immigration petitions with USCIS and paying the necessary fees.
A large percentage of immigrants incorrectly think that brining parents to the U.S. on a tourist visa and adjusting their status here in the U.S. is the easiest and fastest way to get a green card for their parents. However, doing so can be dangerous and can cause additional immigration problems. In some cases, the fastest way to bring your parents to the U.S. may not be the best. The misuse of the tourist visa, visa waiver, or some other visa as a way of gaining U.S. entry with original intent to apply for a green card could lead to denial of your immigration petition based on visa fraud. See an example of visa misrepresentation below:
Parents of the U.S. citizen who reside in Ukraine, applied for travel visa with the U.S. consulate. During the interview, they told the U.S. consul that the main purpose of their trip to the U.S. is to visit their grandchildren and children in New York. Nonetheless, the parents original intention was to come to the U.S. to reconcile with their children and apply for a green card. In a similar situation parents of the U.S. citizen were already issued a tourist visa. They used their valid tourist visa to come the U.S. to reconcile with their children and apply for green card in the U.S. At the port of entry, they said to Customs and Border Protection officer that they came to the U.S. to visit their children and grandchildren.
The parents misrepresentation and fraud made during the interview and on the customs border can significantly hurt their application for green card in the U.S. and in some cases will make them inadmissible to adjust status or enter the U.S. Therefore, you will need to talk to an immigration attorney before adjusting your parents non-immigrant status to ensure absence of issues that can trigger delay or denial of your immigration petition
- Your parents are OUTSIDE the United States.
In this case, the process of bringing your parents to the U.S. will start from filing a Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS by the U.S. citizen. After USCIS approves the petition, it will be sent to the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will send instructions to submit appropriate fee and information package "Packet 3" to the U.S. citizen. Once the National Visa Center determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they will schedule an interview appointment. National Visa Center then sends the file, containing immigration petition and supporting documents, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the parents will be interviewed for a visa. At the port of entry the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will stamp your parents’ passports with temporary Form I-551 (green card) evidencing their lawful permanent resident status. Their actual green card will be mailed lately at the mailing address that was provided by the U.S. citizen.