Get a Green Card for Your Parents: A Guide for U.S. Citizens

Faraz Shaikh

Bringing your parents to live with you in the United States is an important step that requires a thorough understanding of the immigration process. This comprehensive guide will walk you through obtaining a green card for parents of US citizens, covering eligibility requirements, application steps, and benefits.

Understanding the Green Card Process

Eligibility Requirements

To start, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. Unlike U.S. citizens, permanent residents (green card holders) cannot sponsor their parents. It’s essential to provide proof of your citizenship, such as a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization certificate, along with evidence of your relationship with your parents, like birth or adoption certificates.

How to Submit a Parental Green Card Application

Step 1: Filing Form I-130

The process begins with submitting Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. This form is important as it establishes the relationship between you, the U.S. citizen, and your parents. Here’s a detailed breakdown of what this involves: This is what this includes, broken down in detail here:

  1.     Completing the Form I-130: Ensure that all sections of the form are filled out accurately. This includes your details and those of your parents.
  2.     Gathering Supporting Documents: You’ll need to submit evidence of your U.S. citizenship and proof of your relationship with your parents. Acceptable documents include your birth certificate, U.S. passport, or naturalization certificate, and your parents’ birth or marriage certificates.
  3.     Filing the Petition: Submit the completed Form I-130 along with the supporting documents and the filing fee to the appropriate USCIS address. You can find the current filing fee and mailing address on the USCIS website.

Step 2: Waiting for Form I-130 Approval

Once submitted, USCIS will review the petition. The Form I-130 processing time for parents can vary, but it usually takes several months. During this period, USCIS might request additional information or documentation to verify the relationship.

Step 3: National Visa Center (NVC) Processing

After USCIS approves Form I-130, the petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will handle the visa application process, including collecting fees and required documents, and scheduling an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in your parents’ home country. Here’s what to expect:

  1.     NVC Fee Payment: You will need to pay the required processing fees for the immigrant visa and affidavit of support.
  2.     Submitting Required Documents: The NVC will request various documents, including police certificates, civil documents, and proof of financial support.
  3.     Scheduling the Interview: The NVC will schedule an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate. Your parents will need to attend this interview and bring all required documentation.

Filing the Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

Adjustment of Status (Form I-485)

If your parents are already in the U.S., they can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, concurrently with or after the I-130 petition is approved. This allows them to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident without leaving the United States.

  1.     Completing Form I-485: Ensure all information is accurate and complete. This form includes details about your parents’ immigration history and eligibility.
  2.     Submitting Supporting Documents: These include medical examination results, two passport-style photos, and proof of lawful entry into the U.S.
  3.     Biometric Services Appointment: Your parents will be required to attend a biometric services appointment to provide fingerprints, photos, and signatures.

Consular Processing

If your parents are outside the U.S., they will go through consular processing after the I-130 is approved. This involves an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in their nation of origin.

  1.     Submitting Form DS-260: This is the Online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application. It must be completed and submitted online. It has to be finished and turned in online.
  2.     Attending the Interview: Your parents will be interviewed by a consular officer. They must bring all required documents, including passports, medical examination results, and police certificates.

Financial Responsibility and Affidavit of Support

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

As part of the application process, you must prove that you can financially support your parents. This involves submitting Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, which shows that your income meets or exceeds 125% of the federal poverty guidelines. This form ensures that your parents will not become a public charge once they immigrate to the U.S.

  1.     Completing Form I-864: Provide information about your income and assets. You might also need to include a co-sponsor if your income alone doesn’t meet the requirement.
  2.     Submitting Supporting Documents: These include your most recent federal tax returns, pay stubs, and employment verification letter.

Green Card Benefits for Parents

Obtaining a green card for parents offers numerous benefits, including the ability to live permanently in the United States, work without restrictions, and finally apply for U.S. citizenship if they meet the eligibility criteria. Additionally, they will have access to healthcare and other social services available to permanent residents.

After Receiving the Green Card

Things to Do After Getting a Green Card

Once your parents receive their green cards, there are several steps they should take to use in their new life in the U.S. These include:

  • Applying for a Social Security Number: This is essential for employment and accessing social services.
  • Obtaining a Driver’s License or State ID: This is necessary for identification and various daily activities.
  • Accessing Healthcare Benefits: Your parents can now apply for health insurance and access healthcare services.
  • Seeking Employment Opportunities: With a green card, your parents can work without restrictions in the U.S.

Path to Citizenship

After living in the U.S. as a green card holder for five years, your parents can apply for U.S. citizenship. This involves filing Form N-400, Application for Naturalization, and passing the citizenship test and interview.

  1.     Eligibility Requirements: Your parents must have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years, have good moral character, and meet other requirements.
  2.     Filing Form N-400: This form requires detailed information about your parents’ residence and employment history, as well as evidence of their continuous residence.
  3.     Attending the Naturalization Interview: Your parents will be interviewed by a USCIS officer and must pass an English and civics test.

Common Challenges and Solutions

Dealing with Unauthorized Presence

If your parents are in the U.S. without proper documentation, the green card application process can become more complicated. It’s advisable to consult an immigration attorney to deal with these challenges and explore options for adjusting their status.

  1.     Seeking Legal Advice: An experienced immigration attorney can help you understand the available options and develop a strategy for your parents’ case.
  2.     Exploring Waivers: In some cases, waivers might be available to forgive unauthorized presence or other immigration violations.

Ensuring a Smooth Interview Process

Preparation is key to a successful visa interview. Ensure your parents have all the necessary documents and understand the questions they might be asked. Practicing common interview questions can also help reduce anxiety.

  1.     Preparing Documents: Ensure that all required documents are organized and complete. This includes original and translated copies of civil documents.
  2.     Mock Interviews: Conducting mock interviews can help your parents become more comfortable with the process and reduce stress on the day of the actual interview.

Additional Tips and Resources

Stay Informed About Changes in Immigration Law

Immigration laws and policies can change frequently. It’s essential to stay updated on any changes that might affect the application process for a green card for parents. The USCIS website and other official resources are good places to find the latest information.

  1.     Monitoring USCIS Updates: Regularly check the USCIS website for updates on processing times, policy changes, and new forms.
  2.     Joining Immigration Forums: Online forums and support groups can provide valuable insights and share experiences from others who have gone through the process.

Seek Legal Assistance When Necessary

While many people successfully deal with the green card process on their own, seeking the help of an immigration attorney can be beneficial, especially if there are any complications or unique circumstances in your case.

  1.     Finding a Reputable Attorney: Look for attorneys with experience in family-based immigration cases. Check reviews and ask for referrals from friends or family.
  2.     Understanding Legal Fees: Be aware of the potential costs involved in hiring an attorney and ensure that you understand the fee structure before proceeding.


By following these steps and understanding the requirements, you can successfully apply green card for your parents and bring them to the United States to live with you. Whether you’re starting with how to file a green card for parents or looking for specific details like the requirements to petition parents, this guide aims to provide a clear path forward.

Secure a Green Card for Your Parents Today

Are you ready to bring your parents to the United States to live with you? Proceeding the immigration process can be complex, but you don’t have to do it alone. Let us help you every step of the way to ensure a smooth and successful journey.

Don’t let the complexities of the immigration process stand in the way of reuniting with your parents. Contact us today to schedule your consultation and take the first step towards securing a green card for your parents.

Request a Consultation

"*" indicates required fields

How Can We Help
I Have Read The Disclaimer*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.