Green Card for Parents

Green Card for Parents You can petition for green cards for your parents if you are a U.S. citizen who is at least 21-years old. Lawful permanent residents are not allowed to sponsor parents for green cards As a U.S. citizen who is a minimum of 21-years of age, you are able to petition for green cards for both of your parents (mother and father).

You can petition for green cards for your parents if you are a U.S. citizen who is at least 21-years old. Lawful permanent residents are not allowed to sponsor parents for green cards

As a U.S. citizen who is a minimum of 21-years of age, you are able to petition for green cards for both of your parents (mother and father). You cannot, however, petition for your parents to live in the U.S. permanently if you are a green card holder. Under United States immigration laws, parents of U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives,” meaning there is a limitless number of visas available every year for this category, and consequently, there is no waiting list to impede the application process.

To be eligible to sponsor your parents for a green card, you will need to prove that your income is at least 125% of the U.S. poverty guidelines. You must show that you can provide for your own household as well as help support your parents, so that they will not be deemed a potential financial burden on society. If they are unable to support themselves, or you are unable to assist them, USCIS will not approve a visa for them.

To be considered for lawful permanent residence, your parents must meet other eligibility requirements, such as having no criminal record or immigration violations. They must be free of any diseases that might present a public health risk, and have no history of any dangerous mental or physical disorder.

Additionally, you must provide proof of a qualifying parent-child relationship. You can sponsor your birth parents, adoptive parents, or a step-parent. For immigration purposes, your father-in-law or mother-in-law do not count as “parents.”

The timeline for the application process to obtain green cards for your parents begins with the filing of USCIS Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. If you are sponsoring both your mother and your father, you will need to complete and file separate I-130s for each of them. The forms must be submitted to USCIS along with the appropriate supporting documents and the filing fee of $420. The process your parents use to immigrate and, consequently, the additional forms, supporting documents, and sponsor documents will vary depending on whether your parents are currently living overseas or in the U.S.

If your parents are currently living overseas, the process used for obtaining their green cards and immigrating to the United States is called consular processing. After your petition for your parents is filed with, and approved by USCIS, it will be sent to the Consular office in your parents’ home country. They will be notified of the petition’s approval and will need to attend an interview, in person, at the nearest U.S. Consulate. In addition to the visa interview, your parents must also undergo medical exams.

If they have successful interviews, your parents will be given immigrant visas without having to wait for visa numbers to become available. As immediate family members of yours, your parents will then be allowed to travel to the United States and enter as permanent residents. At the U.S. port of entry, your parents’ passports will be stamped by the immigration officer. Their green cards will arrive by mail a few days later. Consult the following checklist of required documents for sponsoring your parents for a green card.

The other forms that must be filed along with the I-130 include:

  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support;
  • Form G-325A, Biographical Information;
  • Form I-693, Medical Examination Results.

Supporting documents that must accompany the petition include:

  • Photocopies of your parents’ birth certificates;
  • Photocopies of your parents’ marriage certificate;
  • Photocopies of your parents’ passports.

*If you are sponsoring a step-parent, the marriage to your birth parent must have taken place before your 18th birthday and you must also include a photocopy of any annulment, divorce decree, or death certificate that shows previous marriages entered into by your birth or step-parent ended legally.

Sponsor documents that must accompany the petition include:

  • Photocopies of your birth certificate (must include your parents’ names);
  • Photocopies of your U.S. citizenship certificate, naturalization certificate, or U.S. passport;
  • Photocopies of the adoption decree (if you are sponsoring adoptive parents);
  • Evidence of your employment and income, including pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements.

If your parents are already in the United States on non-immigrant visas, you can help them get green cards, as well. The process is actually quite simple. You will file Form I-130 to sponsor your parents, while they file Form I-485, Adjustment of Status. There is no need to go through consular processing. After they have filed for an adjustment of status, your parents can stay in the U.S. without the need to return to their home country for immigrant visas. You will need to submit the $420 payment with Form I-130 and your parents will need to pay $1070 with their adjustment of status., unless they are over age 79. In which case, they only have to pay $985 for filing and not the $85 biometrics fee.

The forms that need to be submitted along with the Form I-130 and your parents’ I-485 include:

  • Form G-325, Biographic Information;
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support;
  • Form I-693, Medical Examination Results
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (if your parents will be working);
  • Form I-131, Application for a Travel Document (if necessary);
  • A photocopy of Form I-94 to show that your parents entered the U.S. legally.

The supporting documents that must accompany the petition include:

  • Photocopies of your parents’ birth certificates;
  • Photocopies of your parents’ marriage certificate;
  • Photocopies of your parents’ passports;
  • Photocopies of your parents’ non-immigrant visas.

*If you are sponsoring a step-parent, the marriage to your birth parent must have taken place before your 18th birthday and you must also include a photocopy of any annulment, divorce decree, or death certificate that shows previous marriages entered into by your birth or step-parent ended legally.

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Sponsor documents that must accompany the petition include:

  • Photocopies of your birth certificate with the names of your parents listed;
  • Photocopies of your U.S. citizenship certificate, naturalization certificate, or U.S. passport;
  • Photocopies of the adoption decree (if you are sponsoring adoptive parents);
  • Evidence of your employment and income, including pay stubs, income tax returns, and bank statements.

What Kinds of Questions Can My Parents Expect at Their Green Card Interview?

While each family-based green card interview is unique, there is a general protocol that will be followed. The following are some interview questions you parents might expect to be asked.

  • Can I see your photo ID?
    Your parents must prove that they are who they claim to be.
  • Do you swear you will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
    Every applicant must take this oath, pledging to tell the truth or be guilty of perjury.
  • What is your full legal name?
    This, and a few other obvious questions, such as “what city were you born in?” are meant more to catch an applicant in a lie rather than educate the interviewer.
  • Have you ever committed a crime?
    If your parents are guilty of a crime, they could be found inadmissible, or ineligible for green cards.
  • Have you ever been arrested?
    Similar to committing a crime, having been arrested for anything — even if the arrest didn’t lead to any charges — may cause your parents to be found inadmissible.
  • Have you ever voted in a United States election?
    This question is also meant to determine who is inadmissible by finding out who might have ever falsely claimed to be a United States citizen.
  • Has anything about your life changed since you filed this application?
    If your parents have changed their address, names, jobs, or anything else, their immigration file must reflect the most current information. If they answer “yes” to this question, they should come prepared with documentary evidence of the change.
  • Do you have any documents that you brought to show me?
    Regardless of visa category, immigrants will need to bring along certain documents to their interview. Your parents should be sure to take copies of the original documet as well, to leave for the immigration officer’s file.
  • Have you been granted an employment authorization document (EAD or wok permit)?
    This question will only apply to your parents if they are filing for adjustment of status. If they have been given EADs and have been working, it will certainly help their case. Being able to support themselves shows that they are not likely to become dependent of financial assistance from the government. If, however, they have been working without permits, they will be found in violation of their status, and could have their application denied-or worse.

How Long Will It Take to Get Green Cards for My Parents?

There are an unlimited number of visas available to parents of U.S. citizens. Therefore, there is no long waiting list. Generally, the USCIS attempts to process green card applications for parents and other immediate relatives in about 6 months. Assembling the application packet with fees and supporting documents can take quite a while, but the length of time for completing the paperwork will ultimately depend on how well you and your parents can coordinate to get all the necessary information.

How Can My Parents Get Health Insurance?

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as ObamaCare, mandates that all U.S. citizens and green card holders must have health insurance. By law, each person must have health insurance or be subject to a fine in addition to their medical care costs. Green card holders may qualify for ObamaCare and as such, will also be subject to the regulations defined in the ACA.

Because health care is so expensive in the United States, it is important to consider how your parents will get coverage prior to their arrival. Recent policy reform has made it easier for new immigrants to obtain health insurance. They can get coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions or their medical history. It can even be obtained with subsidies if the enrollee’s income is below 400% of the federal poverty level.

Green card holders may be eligible for affordable health coverage from the federal or state healthcare marketplace, or through a healthcare exchange program through the state where they reside. Who is eligible and how much it costs are all dependent on factors including: age, number of dependents, income, state of residence, and geographical area. As mentioned before, the good news is that pre-existing or current medical conditions will not disqualify anyone from benefits.

Eligibility for ObamaCare can be complicated, and differs based on a variety of factors such as age, income level, length of time spent in the U.S., and state of residence. To help your parents obtain the legally-required healthcare coverage, consult the following checklist to find the appropriate coverage for them:

  1. Check with the Federal Health Department to see if your parents qualify for ObamaCare. They may or may not be eligible- depending on several factors.
  2. Check with their state of residence. Your parents may qualify for a state healthcare program, depending on what state they live in, how much money they make, and other criteria.
  3. Check on private insurance. If your parents do not qualify for any government-supported healthcare programs, consult a health insurance agent in your state to purchase coverage.

New residents cannot obtain government healthcare benefits. However, Medicare or Medicaid may be available to your parents if they are at least 65-years old once they have lived in the U.S. for 5 years continuously as green card holders.

Important Features of Family-Based Green Cards

With the family-based green card, your parents’ eligibility will not be affected by their educational background or work experience.

Obtaining a green card will not allow your parents to leave and re-enter the U.S. freely as often as they may wish. There is no minimum period of time that a person can live in the United States to avoid “abandonment of residence” issues. Trips abroad for 6 months are longer are sure to raise questions, and being abroad for a year or more will cause USCIS to assume that your parents have abandoned their U.S. residence. Even short trips abroad can be problematic, if, when they return, the border official has reason to believe that your parents’ real home is somewhere other than the United States.

Besides making their primary residence somewhere outside the U.S., there are other reasons your parents could lose their green cards. If your parents commit a crime or fail to keep USCIS informed of their current address, they could be placed into removal proceedings. However, successfully maintaining their green cards for 5 years could allow them to apply for U.S. citizenship.

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