If you want to make the U.S. feel more like home, bringing your parents vis-à-vis a parent green card can be the missing key! Assuming you meet the guidelines and requirements, it’s never been easier to bring your parents to the U.S. with VisaNation’s exclusive service. Get started today, and start the immigration process that will reunite your family.

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What is a Parent Green Card?

A parent green card allows the parents of U.S. citizens to live permanently in the United States (with no expiration date), seek employment with work authorization, have access to social benefits, travel flexibility and more.

Parent Green Card Requirements

To petition for a parent green card, the sponsor must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen (at least 21 years old)
  • Be able to demonstrate a qualifying relationship (show that you are the child of your parents)
  • File the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and then demonstrate that you can support them at 125% over the poverty line

When the Supreme Court decided the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional, the court ordered USCIS to treat same-sex marriages the same as heterosexual marriages for immigration. This allows same-sex parents to acquire a parent green card.

Required Documents for Parent Green Card Checklist

You must submit four required forms to USCIS: Form I-693, Form I-485, Form I-130, and Form I-864. All of the forms are explained in more depth below, along with all of the required documents for each form.

parent green card checklist

Immigration can be a daunting process for someone who is doing it for the first time. With numerous forms and documents to submit, mistakes can be very costly. VisaNation makes the entire process easy and fast! Create your application today!

A smooth and successful application requires that you have a firm grasp of all the necessary documentation. Whether you are a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, understanding the process required to secure a parent’s green card will help you navigate this immigration procedure with confidence. There are a few key forms that will pave the way to reuniting with your loved ones and provide them with the opportunity to establish a permanent and cherished home in the United States.

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Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Form I-130 is the foundation for any family-based green card petition. Only you can fill out and submit the form. The purpose is to demonstrate the legitimacy of your relationship between yourself and your parents, along with providing background information about yourself and your parents. Not sure if Form I-824 is right for you? VisaNation prepares all the necessary forms for you. Get started today!

  • Form I-130 Supporting Documents for Parents

    • Evidence of U.S. citizenship with a birth certificate, naturalization or citizenship certificate, or copy of your passport
    • A copy of your birth certificate that proves the relationship between you and your parents
    • If there was a legal name change, you need to provide proof of that
    • Two passport photographs

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Form I-864 Affidavit of Support

They supported you most of your life, and now it’s time to prove to USCIS that you can support your parents. Form I-864 lets the government know that you have the means to help your parents financially.

You need to have enough income to reach at least 125 percent of the Federal Poverty Guideline to prove to the government that you can support your parents. The exact number changes yearly as the guideline changes and changes depending on your household’s size. You must include each parent and past immigrant that you’ve sponsored into your household size along with the family that is already living with you.

  • Form I-864 Supporting Documents for Parents

    • A copy of your most recent federal income tax returns along with W-2s
    • If you have any 1099s, Schedules, or other reported income, include copies of those
    • Your most recent six months of pay stubs can help you qualify
    • A signed letter from an employer can help qualify
    • Include copies of your most recent Schedule C, D, E, or F if you’re self-employed
    • If you’re using assets to meet the income requirement, you need to provide documentation about your assets
    • Evidence of U.S. citizenship with a birth certificate, naturalization or citizenship certificate, or copy of your passport

When filling out the form, provide basic name and address information about yourself and your parents, your household size, employment and income information, and asset information. Processing time can be much longer if Form I-864 is completed incorrectly. For no extra fees, your VisaNation application is reviewed by an immigration attorney and checked for accuracy. Start your application today!

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

If your parents are in the country with a nonimmigrant visa such as a B-1, B-2, or H-1B, they should fill out and submit form I-485 to adjust their status as long as they entered the United States legally. Parents in the U.S. who came without an inspection at a port of entry will need to seek applicable waivers. If USCIS approves the waiver, they will go through the green card process as if they are applying from abroad, including doing the green card interview at their respective embassy or consulate in their home country.

Each parent must fill out I-485 if they each have a nonimmigrant visa while in the country. When filling out the form, they will answer questions regarding address and employment history, marital history, family information, criminal history, details about any security and espionage activity, information about any U.S.-based affiliations and memberships, immigration violations details, public charge details, and necessary contact and biographical information.

  • Form I-485 Supporting Documents for Parents

    • Two passport-style photographs for each parent
    • Copies of:
      • Your parents’ birth certificate
      • Parents’ inspection and admission documents
      • Your parents’ form I-797 or approval or receipt notice
      • Form I-864
    • Any documents relating to any criminal charges, arrests, or convictions for your parents

Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record

After years of telling you to eat your vegetables, it’s time to see how your parents are doing health-wise with the required physical and mental evaluation (medical examination) for form I-693. An approved physician must do the exam, and the results come sealed with a letter stapled on it. Therefore, it is essential not to open the sealed packet.

USCIS’s Find a Doctor tool is an excellent resource for finding an approved doctor within the U.S. Parents applying from abroad should visit the State Department’s website to select their nearest embassy or consulate and see the list of the approved physicians in their respective countries.

Along with the mental and physical evaluation, there is a drug and alcohol screening, medical history review, and tests for different diseases. The physician will also go over your parents’ immunization records, past chest x-rays, and any treatment plans they may have with their doctor.

Before going through the entire green card process, it is essential to know that some health issues will most likely make your parents inadmissible at the outset, including:

  • Communicable diseases
  • Physical or mental disorders that result in harmful behavior
  • Substance abuse and substance-abuse-related disorders can result in damaging behavior
  • Failure to present immunization records

If you’re aware of either of your parents having any of the conditions, it is essential to consult with an immigration attorney about your options. Also, other diseases or disorders might not be grounds for inadmissibility alone, but the government can use them in conjunction with other grounds for inadmissibility.

  • Form I-693 Supporting Documents for Parents

    • A full copy of your parents’ medical history
    • A copy of their vaccination and immunization records
    • Any copies of previous chest x-rays
    • A doctor’s letter outlining treatment plans for any medical conditions your parents may have
    • Health insurance card if their insurance covers the exam
    • Government-issued photo identification

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Forms DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, and DS-261, Online Choice of Address and Agent

If your parents are abroad, they need to wait for your USCIS to approve the I-130 and fill and submit DS-260 and DS-261. File DS-261 with the National Visa Center, which gives USCIS your parents’ necessary information and how to contact them. DS-260 is the online visa application.

Special Instructions for Adopted Parents, Step-Parents, and Other Situations

USCIS requires an I-130 for all parent green card situations. However,  USCIS might need additional documents depending on which parent is the beneficiary.

Petitioning for a mother who lives abroad

    • A copy of your birth certificate with your name and mother’s name

Petitioning for a father who lives abroad

    • A copy of your birth certificate with your name and both parents’ name
    • A copy of your parents’ civil marriage certificate

Petitioning for a father who lives abroad, you were born out of wedlock, and your father did not legitimate you before your 18th birthday

    • A copy of your birth certificate with your father’s name and your name on it
    • Evidence of a financial and emotional bond that started with your father before your 21st birthday or before you were married, whichever came first
      • Examples of evidence
        • If you lived with your father at some point, any evidence of that would help
        • Financial evidence can include insurance records where you are a beneficiary on your father’s plan or receipts of any money your father sent to you, among other pieces of evidence
        • Emotional bond evidence can include letters exchanged between you and your father or affidavits written by those knowledgeable about your relationship

Petitioning for a father who lives abroad, you were born out of wedlock, and your father legitimated you before your 18th birthday.

    • A copy of your birth certificate with your father’s name and your name on it
    • Evidence you were legitimated before your 18th birthday
      • Examples of evidence
        • A copy of your natural parent’s marriage certificate

Petitioning for a step-parent

    • Copies of
      • Your birth certificate with your parents’ name on it
      • Marriage certificate between your natural parent and your step-parent
      • Evidence such as a divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment decree that the previous marriages of your natural and step-parent ended

Petitioning for an adoptive parent

    • A copy of your birth certificate
    • If you were born outside the U.S., submit a copy of your citizenship or naturalization certificate
    • A certified copy of your adoption certificate that your adoption took place before you turned 16 years old
    • A written history of the dates and places you lived with your adopted parents
    • Important note: Adopted children can’t petition for a green card for their biological parents. The only possibility is to establish a “petitionable relationship,” which would require you not receiving any immigration benefit due to adoption, a termination of your adoption, and re-establishing a relationship with your biological parents.

Also, if you or your parents had any name changes, you must submit proof of the legal name change. The most common reason for application delays or denials is the absence of appropriate paperwork. With VisaNation Select, we ensure that all of the relevant documents and forms are submitted right the first time. Create your account today!

Parent Green Card Fees

Fees to bring your parents to the U.S. vary depending on the situation. Below is a breakdown of the basic fees.

  • I-130: $535
  • I-864: $120
  • Biometrics: $85
  • DS-260: $325
  • U.S. Immigrant Fee: (Varies)
  • Medical Examination (Varies)
  • I-485: $1,140 (only needed if in the country under a nonimmigrant visa)

Parent Green Card Interview

After the National Visa Center has the required documents, they will set up an interview with your parents. If your parents live abroad, the interview occurs at the nearest embassy or consulate. For parents already in the country on a nonimmigrant visa, their interview will occur at the closest USCIS field office.

The purpose of the interview is to confirm the relationship you have with your parents, go over your parents’ necessary information, and ensure the accuracy and validity of the documents submitted in the green card application process. Consult your immigration attorney to learn which questions the government typically asks during the interview for a green card for parents.

Parent Green Card Processing Time

The I-130 processing time for an immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen is 13.5 to 15 months. For those within the U.S., the processing duration currently ranges from 13.5 to 20.5 months.

Compared to other green cards and visas, the parent green card has a fast processing time due to it being considered an immediate-relative green card. This is partly due to no annual limit on the amount of immediate-relative green cards the U.S. will accept. Therefore, if your parents are present in the United States and entered after being inspected at a port of entry, they may be able to submit the I-485 application along with the I-130. After USCIS approves the green card, your parents have six months to enter the U.S.

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Green Card for Parents Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the questions our office frequently receives regarding the parent green card process:

Is a biometric service appointment required?

In some cases, USCIS can require a biometric service for providing fingerprints, gathering additional information, background checks, etc. USCIS will notify you by mail—if this is needed—after it receives your petition.

Who can not file Form I-130?

According to USCIS, you cannot file Form I-130 for a natural parent if you “gained lawful permanent resident status or U.S. citizenship through adoption or as a special immigrant juvenile.” Similarly, you cannot file Form I-130 for an adoptive parent or adopted child “if the adoption took place after the child turned 16 years of age, or if the child has not been in the legal custody and has not lived with the parents for at least two years before filing the petition.” It is important to know the complete list of conditions that exclude eligibility for filing Form I-130.

Can parents stay permanently in the United States? 

You can petition to bring your parents to stay permanently and work in the United States if you are a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. However, as a lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to petition for your parents to live permanently in the U.S.

How do I obtain a birth certificate for a green card?

As part of the process of getting a green card, and specifically to meet the I-130 requirements, you will need to submit a copy of your birth certificate that proves the relationship between you and your parents. The beneficiary (parents) will also need to supply certified copies of their birth certificates. If you (the sponsor) were born in the United States, you can obtain a copy of your birth certificate from the vital records office from the state you were born. If you were born overseas, you can get a copy of your birth certificate from the government agency in your home country. This U.S. Department of State site allows you to find the issuing authority by filtering it by country in the upper left-hand corner. Select the “Birth, Death, Burial Certificates” tab in the drop-down menu.

What happens after I file Form I-130? 

USCIS will notify you if your Form I-130 is denied or approved. If it is approved and your parents reside outside the U.S., the State Department will notify them to go to a U.S. consulate in their country to complete the processing. Should your parents be in the United States, they can be eligible to file Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status simultaneously with Form I-130. Consult your lawyer about the best course of action. Was your visa petition denied? You can appeal it. Give us a call to start the process!

Is the processing time shorter if I file Form I-485 concurrently with Form I-130?

Yes, this speeds up the process compared to other filing avenues, assuming the I-130 gets approved.

How long does it take for the U.S. State Department to File Form DS-261? 

It typically takes two to three weeks, although additional backlogs may exist.

Can my parent travel outside of the U.S. while their Adjustment of Status Green Card application is waiting to be approved? 

They can, but they should apply for Advance Parole Form I-131. Having this permission in hand will facilitate easier re-entry into the U.S. when they want to come back from overseas.

Are my parents required to get a medical exam? 

They will need to get one plus the required vaccines from a USCIS-designated doctor. If they are outside of the country applying for a Green Card via Consular Processing, they should use a Department of State physician. They can identify one by contacting the U.S. Embassy/Consulate near them.

What do I do if my parents can’t find their birth certificate?

Instead of presenting the birth certificate, the U.S. citizen’s parent must furnish a minimum of two affidavits affirming the parent’s date of birth, alongside supplementary evidence such as school leaving certificates, school records, driver’s license, or any other valid government-issued documents.

What do I do if my parents can’t find their marriage certificate?

Two marriage affidavits will be required, from relatives, friends, or other individuals who attended the wedding. These sworn statements provide valuable testimony affirming the authenticity and legitimacy of the marriage. Additionally, supporting evidence, such as personal, business, or government records reflecting the couple’s marital status, should be included to further strengthen the application.

Should I hire a lawyer if I don’t know how to apply for a green card for my parents? 

Yes, you should hire a professional immigration lawyer to obtain a green card for parents. Enlisting the help of an experienced attorney can ensure your parents have the highest chance of being approved and joining you in the United States.

How VisaNation Law Group Can Help 

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While this guide will help you prepare for the long and strenuous process of getting a green card for your parents, a mistake in your petition can be costly and lead to delay or denial. An experienced family-based green card attorney is the best guide for the process. VisaNation Law Group's highly experienced green card immigration attorneys will help you file your petition. With their expertise in the field, they will help you avoid the common immigration pitfalls.