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Things To Know When Petitioning Your Parents
Are you a US citizen aged 21 or over, but your parents are citizens of another country? Do you want to bring your parents to the United States?
You may request US green cards for them. But they must separately meet the other criteria for green card approval.
Another consideration is whether your parents want to come to the US with you. Many people are interested in family visits but don’t want to abandon their life in their country for one here in the US
If your parents want to settle in America, they need to consider how much time they must live in the US to keep their Green Card. A green card is not just an easy travel pass because if they stay outside the US for over 180 days, they can lose their Green Card.
Many parents agree to come to the US to help other kids get green cards despite objections to the process. But, be sure they understand the commitments first.
Who Qualifies to Petition for Their Parents
To petition to get a green card for your parents, you must meet several basic requirements.
You Must Be a US Citizen.
You need to be a US citizen to file an immigration petition on your parents’ behalf. You are a citizen of the United States if you were:
- Naturalized after you applied and passed the exam;
- Born in the United States or its territories, including the US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam;
- Born outside of the United States or its territories and acquired US citizenship because one of your parents was a USC when you were born; or
- Born outside of the United States, you derived USC when your parents, whom you lived with, naturalized before you turned 18.
You Must Be at least 21 Years Old
As a US citizen, you must be at least 21 years old to apply for your parents as an immediate relatives. If your parents entered the US illegally, they might have to leave the US and apply through a US consulate. In that case, your citizenship may not help them.
However, if they have accumulated more than 180 days in the US unlawfully, they will be barred for three or ten years unless approved for an unlawful presence waiver.
This waiver would make their unlawful presence in the US “forgiven” before leaving the country for a consular interview. But unfortunately for you, the child petitioner doesn’t count for a waiver.
They will need to show extreme hardship to a “qualifying relative” – which refers to a US citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse or parent.
This is a tricky area of law, so you’d do best to consult with an attorney before applying for a waiver. Feel free to give us a call to discuss your case.
Who Qualifies As Your Parent?
If you’re from a traditional family—that is, you were born and raised by a married couple—you should have no problem petitioning for your parents to immigrate. However, US immigration law also recognizes some variations in the traditional family.
Under certain circumstances, you can also petition for unmarried parents, stepparents, or adoptive parents. You’ll usually have to provide additional documents to prove the relationship.
Your Natural Mother
Suppose your mother was not married to your father when you were born, and your mother’s maiden name is on your birth certificate. In that case, you can prove your relationship by presenting a copy of that certificate when you file the petition for your mother.
If your mother has changed her name because she married someone else, present her marriage certificate to show her change of name.
Your Natural Father
Suppose your biological father did not marry your mother before or after birth. In that case, you could still petition for him as your immediate relative.
You must also provide some evidence of your relationship. Make a copy of your birth certificate, baptismal certificate, or other religious records showing his name as your father.
USCIS may also require you and your father to take a DNA test to prove your relationship.
If you and your father did not live together before you turned 18, you need proof that, up to the time you turned 21, he maintained a father-child relationship with you by:
- Providing financial support;
- Communication between you or your mother about your well-being;
- Sending you birthday cards, and holiday cards;
- Photographs of you together; or
- Him naming you as a beneficiary to his life insurance;
In the case where you lived with your father before your 18th birthday, you must present proof of a father-child relationship, as evidenced by school records, photographs, letters, civil records, or written statements from friends and relatives.
Your Stepmother or Stepfather
Suppose your father or mother marries somebody other than your biological parent before you turn 18. In that case, the person they marry becomes your stepmother or stepfather.
Filing a petition for your stepparents is the same as filing for your natural parents, but the marriage must have occurred before you turned 18. You start with Form I-130, and you will need to complement it with documents like:
- Your birth certificate showing the name of your remarried parent, and
- The marriage certificate of your remarried parent shows your stepparent’s name.
If the marriage occurred after you turned 18, you could still apply for your natural parent. After he or she gets their green card, your natural mother or father can petition for their spouse (your stepparent).
They would be a second preference beneficiary. That means it may take a few years before they can get their visa approved.
Your Adoptive Mother and Father
Let’s say a non-US citizen adopted you before your 16th birthday. If you are a US citizen and now 21 years or older, you can petition for your adoptive parents as your immediate relatives. When you file the petition, you must also submit:
- The court decree of your adoption;
- Your birth certificate shows the name of your adopting parents as your father and mother; and
- A certification showing the dates and places you have lived together.
What is the Application Process like?
Here is a Quick View of the Application Process. To get a green card for your parent or parents, you must begin the process by:
Ste 1: Preparing a petition Form I-130,
You need to prepare it with supporting documents as proof to the immigration authorities, and proof of your relationship to your parent (natural, step, or adopted).
Step 2: After that petition is approved and a visa is available, your parents will need to change their status.
This process proves that they qualify as parents of a US citizen and that they’re otherwise eligible for US permanent residence.
It happens one of two ways:
- Adjustment of Status occurs inside the US after filing form I-485 and being interviewed at a local USCIS office, or
- Consular Process, generally, if their last entry into the US was not lawful or living outside the US, they must file form DS 260 and attend an interview at the US embassy or consulate.
Consult your case
If you have any questions about filing a Green Card for your parents, you can call us and book an appointment. We are here to help.
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