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Simplified Step-by-Step Guide to Green Cards for Parents


For many US migrants, the journey begins with dreams of better opportunities and brighter futures. Skilled and highly skilled individuals from various countries often face significant challenges when they first arrive in the United States. Overcoming these obstacles, they eventually secure promising careers and settle into their new lives. As they achieve stability, one of their primary objectives becomes reuniting with their families. Bringing parents to the US, or ensuring their permanent stay if they are already here, becomes a heartfelt priority. This desire stems from the need to care for their parents in times of need and to enjoy the warmth of a complete family unit. A green card for parents or IR-5 visa is the ultimate solution, offering a path to permanent residency. It ensures that parents can live with their children without the constant worry of visa renewals. It grants parents the freedom to live permanently with their children, free from the stress of visa limitations. This stability allows for deeper familial connections and the assurance that loved ones are close by.

Eligibility Requirements

To begin the process of obtaining a green card for your parents, certain criteria must be met. These eligibility requirements ensure that both the petitioner (the US citizen child) and the parents qualify under US immigration laws.

Key Eligibility Criteria:

  • Citizenship Status: The petitioner must be a US citizen.
  • Age Requirement: The petitioner must be at least 21 years old.
  • Proof of Relationship: Legal documents such as birth certificates must be provided to prove the parent-child relationship.
  • Admissibility: Parents must meet health and character standards set by US immigration authorities. This may include medical examinations and background checks to ensure they are admissible to the US.

Application Process

Securing a green card for your parents involves a detailed and structured process. This process can be broken down into several critical steps, each requiring careful attention to detail.

1. Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative:

  • Complete the Form: The petitioner must fill out Form I-130, providing all necessary information about both the petitioner and the parent.
  • Submit Supporting Documents: Along with Form I-130, you must submit supporting documents such as birth certificates, proof of US citizenship (e.g., passport, naturalization certificate), and any other documents that establish the parent-child relationship.
  • Pay the Filing Fee: The current filing fee for Form I-130 is approximately $625-$675. This fee is non-refundable, so ensure that all information is correct before submission.
  • Submit the Petition: Send the completed form and supporting documents to the appropriate USCIS address, as indicated in the form instructions.

2. Approval of Form I-130:

  • Wait for Processing: After submission, USCIS will review the petition. Processing times can vary, typically taking several months.
  • Receive Approval Notice: If the petition is approved, you will receive a notice of approval from USCIS. If additional information is needed, you may receive a Request for Evidence (RFE).

3. Choosing the Application Method:

Once Form I-130 is approved, your parents can choose between two methods to proceed with their green card application: consular processing or adjustment of status.

Consular Processing:

  • NVC Processing: The approved petition is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will assign a case number and provide instructions on the next steps.
  • Complete Form DS-260: Your parents will need to fill out the online immigrant visa application (Form DS-260).
  • Submit Additional Documents: The NVC will request civil documents, including police certificates and financial support forms.
  • Attend Consular Interview: Your parents will be scheduled for an interview at the US embassy or consulate in their home country. They must bring all required documents and be prepared to answer questions about their application.
  • Visa Issuance: If the interview is successful, your parents will be issued an immigrant visa, allowing them to travel to the US.

Adjustment of Status:

  • Eligibility for Adjustment of Status: This option is available if your parents are already legally present in the US.
  • File Form I-485: Your parents must complete and submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • Submit Biometrics: Your parents will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photos, and signatures.
  • Attend USCIS Interview: They may be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office. This interview will cover their eligibility and background.
  • Receive Green Card: If approved, they will receive their green card in the mail.

The process of obtaining a green card for your parents can be complex and challenging. To ensure the best possible outcome, it is recommended to seek assistance from an immigration lawyer. These professionals possess the necessary expertise to guide you through each step, ensuring that all requirements are accurately met and documentation is properly prepared. They offer valuable insights into the realities of immigration processes, helping you avoid common pitfalls and delays. With the help of an experienced professional, you can simplify the process and significantly increase the chances of a successful result.