For many Green Card applicants, the longest part of the application process tends to be waiting for an immigrant visa to become available. Due to annual visa limits imposed by Congress, this can often take years for family members of permanent residents in the United States. 

Fortunately, there are no limitations on visas for the immediate family members of US citizens.

When a US citizen petitions for a Green Card on behalf of his or her parents, the process is significantly faster. While every case is different and processing times may vary depending on the circumstances, the citizen’s parents should receive their Green Card in 12 – 15 months.

How to Petition for a Green Card for Your Parents

In order for your parents to apply for a Green Card under the eligibility category of immediate family members of a US citizen, USCIS will need to validate your citizenship and family status. To accomplish this, you will need to file two copies of Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative—one copy for each parent. For each petition, you’ll need to include the following evidence for the USCIS adjudicator’s consideration:

  • Evidence of the family relationship – in this case, a copy of your birth certificate with your parent’s name will suffice
  • Proof of legal name change (if you or your parent have changed your names)
  • Proof of US citizenship – in the form of a US birth certificate, naturalization certificate, Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA), valid US passport, or a statement from a US consular officer verifying you are a US citizen with a valid passport
  • Two passport-style photographs

In addition to these supporting documents, you will also need to include payment for the standard filing fee of $535. All USCIS service centers and field offices accept personal checks, cashier’s checks, and money orders. If you’d like to pay by credit card, you’ll need to include Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, and submit your application packet to a USCIS Lockbox facility (service centers cannot accept credit card payments).

Generally speaking, USCIS can process Form I-130 in 5 – 12 months. If your parents are already in the United States, USCIS can process Form I-130 concurrently with their Green Card application, which saves a significant amount of time. If your parents are outside of the United States, they will need to go through consular processing with an approved Form I-130 and immigrate to the United States before they can file an application for an adjustment of status to permanent resident. This can unfortunately add another 6 – 12 months to the Green Card process.

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

Form I-485 is the formal Green Card application that your parents will need to complete and submit to USCIS. Again, if your parents are already in the United States with a valid visa, you can submit Form I-485 and Form I-130 concurrently for faster processing. If your parents are outside of the United States, they’ll have to wait to file Form I-485 until USCIS approves Form I-130 and the US Embassy or consulate issues them an immigrant visa.

The Green Card application is a bit more challenging than Form I-130, as it requires more supporting evidence and a few supplementary USCIS forms. If you didn’t already consult with an immigration attorney for Form I-130, it’s safe to say that you’ll want to work with one for this part of the application process. A good immigration attorney can make the process much easier and significantly improve the chances of your parents’ applications being approved as quickly and smoothly as possible.

Supporting Documents and Forms for the Green Card Application

As you’re helping your parents put together their petition packets with Form I-485, here are some of the documents that you’ll need to gather for supporting evidence:

  • A copy of a government-issued identification document with a photograph
  • A copy of your parent’s birth certificate (if this is unavailable, you can submit other acceptable evidence of birth such as medical, school, or church records, and include an explanation of why the birth certificate is unavailable)
  • Documentation of your parent’s immigrant category (if you have already filed Form I-130, the receipt issued by USCIS—Form I-797—will suffice)
  • Documentation of your parent’s inspection and admission, or inspection and parole, into the United States at a US Port of Entry
  • If your parent has a criminal charge, arrest, or conviction, include certified police records and court files pertaining to the incident(s)
  • Two passport style photographs

Depending on the unique circumstances of your parent’s situation and immigration status, you may need to include additional USCIS forms and petitions to be reviewed concurrently with Form I-485. Following is a brief overview of some of the most commonly required supplementary forms:

  • Form I-212, Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal – applicants who have been removed (deported) from the United States and are subject to a ban on re-entering the United States will need to reapply for admission to the United States.
  • Form I-485 Supplement A – include this if your parents are barred from adjustment of status or are considered inadmissible to the United States, and they qualify for an exemption under INA Section 245(i).
  • Form I-508, Waiver of Diplomatic Rights, Privileges, Exemptions, and Immunities – include this form if your parents are A, G, or E nonimmigrants
  • Form I-566, Interagency Record of Request – include this form if your parents are A, G, or NATO status nonimmigrants
  • Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility – applicants who are considered inadmissible to the United States will need to seek a waiver of certain grounds of inadmissibility before their Green Card application can be approved.
  • Form I-612, Application for Waiver of the Foreign Residence Requirement – if your parents currently hold or previously held a J-1 or J-2 visa and did not fulfill the foreign residency requirement, they will need to request a waiver in order to be a permanent resident in the United States.
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record – all Green Card applicants must complete a medical exam with a designated civil surgeon. After completing the examination, the doctor will complete, sign, and seal Form I-693 in an envelope for your parents to submit to USCIS (note that this is typically done after submitting Form I-485).
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support – many family-based immigrants use this form to demonstrate that they have adequate means of financial support from family and/or friends, and will not need to rely on government assistance programs in the United States. 
  • Form I-864W, Request for Exemption for Intending Immigrant’s Affidavit of Support – immigrants who have sufficient personal income and assets to support themselves in the United States (known as self-sponsoring) may file this form instead of Form I-864.

Receive Help With Your Parent’s Green Card Application

The United States immigration system is extremely complex and can take years to navigate, if done incorrectly. However, with the help of an experienced immigration attorney, even the most complicated immigration issue can be solved.

JakcsonWhite is an Arizona based law firm, with a dedicated immigration team lead by attorney Pace Rawlins. Pace and his team are devoted to helping Arizona families with their immigration needs. If you are looking for help to move members of your immediate family into the United States, our team can help you.

Call our Immigration team at (480) 626-2388 to discuss your case today.

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