You made your dream come true. You worked hard and saved so that you could immigrate to the United States. Your parents’ dreams were different. They wanted to stay in your home country, but they are getting older.
Now your parents need you more than ever. To help your parents immigrate to the U.S., you must once again navigate the immigration system, and that is not an easy task. This guide provides you with the steps to the green card for parents process.
Determine Parental Eligibility for a Green Card
You and your parents must pass four basic tests to prove they qualify for a green card.
- As the petitioner, you must be U.S. citizens.
- You must be over 21 years of age.
- Your parents must fully disclose any criminal history. Keep in mind certain major crimes, such a drug trafficking,and moral turpitude crimes, will make them ineligible for a green card.
- Your parents must disclose their immigration history. This includes any past visas or travel to the United States.
Green Card Petition Choices
Once you determine eligibility, it is time to decide if you want to gain your parents permanent resident status as either an adjustment of status or by consular processing.
An adjustment of status means they are giving up their citizenship in their home country completely to become permanent U.S. residents. This is the least complicated of the two options and most popular.
To gain a green card through the consular process means your parents will travel to the U.S. on an immigration visa by working through the embassy or a consulate in their home country. The embassy or consulate will help them gain the visa.
Both options can take a year to finalize, which is another reason you want to complete the process correctly the first time. When your parents need you now, every day saved means a lot.
Success with Adjustment of Status Application
To get a green card for your parents through the adjustment of status application process, you will go through five steps.
- Submit your forms and supporting documents. The supporting documents may include your birth certificate as well as that of your parents, your parents’ marriage certificate, passports for you and your parents.
- In two to four weeks, you will receive an I-797C, Notice of Receipt.
- In another two to six weeks, you will receive an appointment notice for fingerprinting and biodata collection.
- In three to four months of filing, Immigration will send out an Employment Authorization Document. This gives them permission to work in the U.S. and travel internationally.
- In another two to eight months, an immigration officer will either schedule an appoint with your parents or send them an approval notification.
Success with the Consular Processing
While the adjustment status process is usually easier, you can go through consular processing. The steps include:
- Submit a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with supporting documents to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- You will receive one of three letters confirming receipt of the application. This letter will include a receipt number that you need to keep.
- Once the application is approved, visit the National Visa Center (NVC). They will help you make sure your application is complete and ready for review by a consular officer in your home country. You will also pay your fee at this time to have the application processed.
- Your parents will schedule an interview with the consular at the embassy. They must take proof of identity. It is also helpful if you will send them a full copy of everything you submitted to the NVC, so they can review it prior to the meeting.
Prove Financial Sponsorship
Since you are sponsoring your parents for a green card, you will need to provide that you are capable of financially supporting them while they are staying with you in the United States. Be ready with proof of income.
The easiest way to prove income is to provide three years of tax returns or tax transcripts. You can get tax transcripts at IRS.gov or by calling the Internal Revenue Service. Additionally, provide your W-2s with your tax returns and six months of paystubs, to show your financial situation is still adequate to provide for your parents.
Hard to Find Documents
Sometimes, immigration asks you to provide supporting documents that you do not have. For example, not all countries issue birth certificates. If that is the case, do not give up. Look for alternative documents, such as religious birth records, affidavits of birth from people who witnessed the birth, medical records, or school records. If the documentation is insufficient, work with your immigration employee to come up with alternatives that the agency will accept.
Your parents are the most important people in your world. When they need to live near you, do not give up your dream of living in the United States. You can sponsor your parents to come to you. Spend the time to complete the paperwork as accurately as you can to make the green card process as painless as possible.