Getting a green card isn’t as easy as it seems. More than 800,000 immigrants apply to become American lawful permanent residents through family members. 12% of applicants are denied, roughly 100,000 people every year.
The best thing you can do before you petition for your parents to become residents is to inform yourself about the process. You must follow several steps, but you can get help at each stage. Here’s how you can petition for your parents successfully today.
Meet All Qualifications to File a Petition
To petition for one or both of your parents to live in America as green card holders, you must be an American citizen who is at least 21 years old. You cannot petition for your parents if you are a permanent resident (a green card holder) or have another type of visa.
If you are not a U.S. citizen by birth, you can go through the naturalization process by obtaining a green card and filing Form N-400 with USCIS after being a lawful permanent resident for five years or three years if based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, among meeting other requirements. You then must give your fingerprints to USCIS, complete an interview, and perform well on English and civics tests. USCIS will notify you if they approve your application, and you can then take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States at a formal ceremony.
You can file a petition for your parents regardless of whether you are a birthright or naturalized U.S. citizen. You can also file one even if you have a criminal record or your parents have separated. You can petition for a biological, adoptive, or step-parent, as well as for your sibling, spouse, or child if you are a U.S. citizen.
Are you unsure about your immigration status or have questions about the petition process? Call Abogada Ashley today!
Fill Out Form I-130
Form I-130 is the USCIS Petition for Alien Relative. You must complete this form in full for USCIS to consider your application. The form asks you to provide your personal details, including your address and employment history. You must also provide your parents’ physical address and employment information.
You can complete the form and submit it to USCIS online. You are not required to contact an attorney for help, but you should do so. A green card immigration attorney can inspect your document for errors and help you gather any missing details. An interpreter can also help you fill out the form if English is not your first language, but you must supply their contact information and the interpreter must sign your form.
You must fill out a separate Form I-130 for each of your parents. They cannot be included on the same petition. Make sure the details on both documents are consistent with each other, as inconsistencies can delay the approval process or lead to a denial.
Provide Additional Documents
In addition to a completed and signed copy of Form I-130, you must provide proof of your American citizenship. Qualifying documents include a copy of your birth certificate, passport, or certificate of naturalization.
You must also provide proof that you are the child of your parent(s). A copy of your birth certificate, which should list both of their names, is the best document to prove this. If you have an adoptive parent, you should include your birth and adoption certificates. For step-parents, you should provide your birth certificate and your parents’ marriage certificates to show that they married before you turned 18 years old.
You must pay a fee of $535 for each petition. The only exception is if you are filing a form on behalf of a parent from Afghanistan. You can pay the USCIS filing fee with a credit card, personal check, or money order.
Have Your Parents Fill Out Form I-485 If They Are Inside the U.S., or a DS-260 If They Are Abroad
Form I-485 is the USCIS Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is used if your parent is in the United States and last entered lawfully. Adjustment of status is the process where someone gets a green card from inside the U.S., without having to go abroad to a U.S. consulate. There are other requirements for the adjustment of the status process as well, so it is always a good idea to talk to an immigration attorney to make sure your parents qualify. You can actually file the I-485 form at the same time as your I-130 petition for your parents to speed up the process.
If both of your parents are applying for permanent residency through adjustment of status, they must each fill out their own Form I-485. They can only complete and file the form while physically present in the United States.
Your parents can use assistance from a lawyer and an interpreter to complete I-485. They must provide two passport-style photographs, a government-issued photo ID, and a copy of their original birth certificate. If your parent does not have their birth certificate, they can use documents from their church, school, or medical provider. Documents that prove their marriage can also be helpful, especially if your parents have their original marriage certificate.
If your parents are abroad, you have to wait for the I-130 petitions to be approved before they can file for their immigrant visas on Form DS-260. After the approval of the I-130 petition, the rest of the case is handled through the National Visa Center, which is the agency that collects fees, documents, and the immigrant visa and affidavit of support paperwork. Eventually, the National Visa Center will forward the case to the U.S. consulate in the country where your parents are located for them to attend an interview with an immigration officer.
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Complete the Process
USCIS processes petitions for parents to live as permanent residents on a first-come, first-serve basis. It may take several months, if not longer, for you to hear from USCIS, so be patient and remain in touch with your immigration lawyer.
If USCIS approves your parents’ I-485 application, your parents will receive their green cards. In some cases, an interview with a USCIS officer will be required before this happens. The officer will ask them questions about the information on their forms. If your parents are abroad, they will eventually attend an interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy where an immigration officer will go over their paperwork and issue a decision on whether their immigrant visas will be issued.
USCIS may send you a letter denying your I-130 or I-485 petition. The USCIS denial letter will instruct you on how to appeal and how much time you have to appeal. If you have not done so already, you should meet with the top immigration lawyers in Bend, Oregon, to figure out how to launch a successful appeal. Similarly, if the U.S. consulate in your parent’s home country denies their visas, your parents will be notified as to why and if there is any waiver available that they can file in order to have the visas approved.
While holding green cards, your parents can permanently live anywhere in the United States and work for any American employer. They can maintain their citizenship in their native country. All green card holders can be deported and at risk of losing their green card if they commit certain crimes or if they spend too long outside the United States. All green card holders should keep their green cards with them at all times.
Your parents can travel to and from the United States with green cards. But frequent travel abroad, for long periods of time (more than 6 months at a time), can lead a border official to believe they have abandoned their residences and they don’t have the intent to reside permanently in the United States, which is a requirement to maintain permanent residence status. Your parents should avoid going on long trips within a few years of receiving their green cards, and they should never go on trips longer than six months without first receiving a special kind of permit to return to the U.S., called a reentry permit.