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Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens: Parent(s)

Immediate relatives are certain types of family members of U.S. citizens who do not have to wait in line for a green card.  Instead, the U.S. citizen and sponsor the family member and the relative is immediately eligible for U.S. permanent residence.  One type of family member that qualifies is the parent of a U.S. citizen as long as the U.S. citizen child is at least 21 years old.

For purposes of immigration benefits, a step-parent will also qualify for immediate relative immigration benefits if the marriage that created the step-parent/step-child relationship was finalized before the U.S. citizen child’s 18th birthday.  Moreover, an adopted child can also sponsor his/her adoptive parents as long as the child was adopted before the child’s 16th birthday, the adoptive parent has had legal custody of the U.S. citizen child for at least two years, and the U.S. citizen child has lived with the adopted parent for at least two years.  (The two-year legal custody and residence requirements can be met before or after the adoption).

Just like with most other immigration processes, there are two ways that a U.S. citizen’s parent can apply for U.S. permanent residence.  The first way is called consular processing.  Consular processing is a good option for when the parent is residing outside of the United States.  It requires the U.S. citizen child to file a Form I-130 Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Once USCIS approves the I-130 Petition, the parent can then obtain the immigrant visa from the U.S. consulate.  The parent uses the visa to enter the U.S. and USCIS will mail the parent the green card.

The second way is called Adjustment of Status (AOS).  AOS is appropriate if the parent is currently residing in the United States.  To complete this process, the U.S. citizen child also files the I-130 Petition with USCIS, but must the parent must file the Form I-485 Application with USCIS as well.  The I-485 Application is the actual green card application.  Once both applications are approved, USCIS will mail the green card to the parent.

The I-130 Petition must include evidence of the parent/child relationship which typically consists of the child’s birth certificate that lists the U.S. citizen as the child’s parent.  In the case of adoptive parents, the adoption certificate should be included and for step-children, the marriage certificate should be submitted.  USCIS also collects a filing fee from the U.S. citizen child to pay for the cost of adjudicating the I-130 Petition.

The I-485 Application also requires supporting evidence, such as passport-style photos and a copy of the parent’s passport.  Additionally, the application must include proof that the parent made a legal entry into the United States.  If the parent did not make a legal entry, other applications will likely need to be filed in order for the parent to become a lawful permanent resident.

Importantly, if the U.S. citizen child is sponsoring both parents, the child must submit a separate Form I-130 to USCIS for each parent.

At the Callan Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys are highly experienced in filing successful I-130 Petitions every year.  Contact our office today to begin the process of sponsoring your parent for immigration benefits!