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Reunite With Your Parents: A Guide to Sponsoring Parents for a Green Card

Where would we be without our family – and especially without our parents? For many years of our lives, our parents house us, clothe us, and feed us. As we get older, they offer wisdom beyond our years, guidance in sticky situations, and comfort when we’re feeling low. They dry our tears, teach us right from wrong, and support us as we try to achieve our dreams. 

Even into adulthood, there is no feeling quite like the joy of reuniting with our parents, especially after long periods of time apart. For most U.S. citizens, planning a reunion may mean a long drive across state lines or even a plane ride to the opposite coast. But if you are a U.S. citizen and your parents are not, chances are that times of separation are long, reunions may be few and far between, and you feel the distance from your loved ones constantly. Thankfully, there is a way to change that!

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can sponsor your parents for a green card using Form I-130, officially known as “Petition for an Alien Relative.” Submitting a family petition is the first step in helping your parents come to the United States and receive a green card. It is a lawful way to reunite with your parents permanently and bring them to the United States so that separation becomes a thing of the past. 

What Is a Parent Petition in Family Immigration?

A parent petition is a process that establishes a familial relationship with a foreign national parent who wishes to immigrate to the United States – or in some cases, is already living in the United States. The U.S. government uses parent petitions to prove that the parent in question is related to you and that you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident of the United States. Completing the parent petition is one of the earliest steps in the process for you, a U.S. citizen, to help your parents get a green card.

How to Petition for Parents to Enter the U.S.

To petition for your parents to enter the United States, there are a few important steps you will have to take. Follow these steps carefully, or, if you feel that you would be better served by seeking outside help, look into hiring an immigration expert

What Is Form I-130?

What is an immigration petition, or Form I-130? To jumpstart this whole process, you’ll need to fill out Form I-130. Form I-130, or “Petition for an Alien Relative,” is a form that exists to establish the parent-child relationship. This is how you, a U.S. citizen, can sponsor your parents for a green card. 

The filing or approval of Form I-130 is not what officially grants your loved one citizenship, but it is an essential part of starting the process of bringing your parents to the U.S.A.

Eligibility Requirements for Sponsoring Parents for Green Card

There are several eligibility requirements to be aware of before you attempt sponsoring parents for a green card. You can find them directly on the instructions for the Form I-130. 

Eligibility Requirements for the Child/U.S. Citizen Sponsor:

  • You must be at least 21 years old. 
  • You must have the financial means to support your parent until they start working. 
  • You must have a United States address. 
  • You must have access to a copy of your birth certificate that proves the relationship between you and the parent you are trying to sponsor. 
  • You must be a citizen of the United States, and thus, your parents must be the parents of a U.S. citizen. Green card holders/legal permanent residents cannot petition to bring their parents permanently into the United States. 

Eligibility Requirements for the Parent:

  • If your parent is your adoptive parent, you cannot file for them if you were adopted after the age of 16.
  • If you gained lawful permanent resident status through adoption or U.S. citizenship as a special immigrant juvenile, you cannot file for a natural parent (a parent by blood, marriage, or adoption). 
  • If you wish to file for a stepparent, you cannot file for them if the marriage that created the relationship took place after you were 18 years old. 

Depending upon the circumstances of your birth or adoption, as well the relationship between your parents, you and your parent may need to provide other information, such as your adoption certificate, your parents’ marriage certificate, or evidence of an emotional or financial bond.

How to File Form I-130

Immigration and citizenship paperwork can seem overwhelming. It’s important to submit correct information and have access to all of your supporting documents. If you follow these directions, you will be filing your Form I-130 in no time – but also, don’t be afraid to seek outside help from trained immigration professionals!

Where to Find Form I-130

You can find the I-130 form on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services webpage. Click here for the PDF version. 

Required Information for I-130 Form

To complete the I-130 form for your parents, you will need to have a great deal of information and documentation at your disposal. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is counting on you to provide the correct information, so that your parents may continue on the path to receiving a visa. 

There are specific Form I-130 supporting documents for parents that you will need to provide. For a U.S. citizen, the petition for parents require:

  • Evidence of U.S. citizenship, lawful permanent residence, or U.S. national status. This can include:some text
    • A copy of your birth certificate
    • A copy of your citizenship or naturalization certificate
    • A copy of form FS-240 (Consular Birth Abroad)
    • A copy of your U.S. passport
    • An original statement from a U.S. consular officer verifying you are a U.S. citizen with a valid passport
    • A copy of the front and back of your Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card or a Form I-551)
  • Evidence of a family relationship with your parent (such as a birth certificate)
  • Proof of legal name change (if applicable)
  • Two passport-style photographs (if applicable)

Filing Instructions and Associated Fees for Form I-130

There are two ways to file Form 1-130: online or by mail/paper. The benefits of filing online are that you can easily check your case status, upload evidence, and receive case alerts. It is also less expensive than filing by mail.

To file online:

  • First, create an account on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services webpage. Follow these steps for more information about account creation. 
  • Fill out the form carefully and correctly. If you find the process overwhelming, it may be helpful to work with an immigration consultant
  • Submit your petition with the filing fee and any scanned copies of supporting documents. 
  • As of April 2024, it costs $625 to file online. Note that you cannot file Form I-130 online if you are applying with a fee waiver. This fee is nonrefundable, even if your petition is denied. 

To file by mail:

  • Print your I-130 Form and complete it carefully and correctly. 
  • Find the correct outgoing address here
  • Depending on which state you live in and whether or not your relative is filing Form I-485 as well, USCIS will require you to send to either the Dallas, Chicago, or Phoenix Lockbox. 
  • As of April 2024, it costs $675 to file your family petition by mail. This fee is nonrefundable, even if your petition is denied. 

What Is the Next Step After I-130 Approval?

After you submit your Form I-130, you’ll doubtlessly wonder about what comes next. You might be anxious to hear about the status of your parent’s immigration journey. The good news is that Form I-130s have relatively high approval rates, so as long as you submit your form correctly and include the necessary information, your parents could be approved before you know it. So, what is the next step after I-130 approval? How can the petition get your parents to the U.S.A.? 

What Is an Approval Notice (Form I-797)?

Approval notice for Form I-130 comes through Form I-797 (which is also called a Notice of Action). This is not a form that you have to fill out, and it does not grant your parents their green card. It is a form that comes to you that will inform you whether or not your family application has been denied or accepted. 

Processing Timelines

The processing timeline of Form I-130 can look a little bit different for different situations. For a parent living abroad, the wait time for Form I-130 averages 13.5–15 months. For parents living in the U.S., the processing time is currently around 10–23 months (this can change at any time). 

The next step after approval of I-130 is that your parent will then fill out Form DS-260 (immigrant visa petition) and submit proof that they are your parent. Once the DS-260 form is submitted, it is sent along with supporting evidence to the National Visa Center (NVC), which processes and reviews the visa application. 

The NVC may request additional evidence from the parent. After the NVC processes the application, it will be sent to the embassy or consulate of the country where your parent resides.

The Family Petition Interview Process

After submitting information to the National Visa Center, your parent will be required to submit to an interview in their place of residence at a U.S. consulate or embassy. If you feel that outside assistance would come in handy as your parent gets closer to the stage of the immigration process, working with an immigration expert could be the right fit for you.

Your parent will need to bring the following materials to their interview: 

  • Their USCIS appointment letter.
  • An unexpired passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States.
  • Two identical color photograph(s).
  • English translations of documents requiring translation.
  • Supporting documents — original or certified copies of all civil documents the parent uploaded into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC).
  • Please see the checklist that is provided by the National Visa Center

Your parent will have to answer questions about their relationship with you and verify that the information that has been provided is accurate. Assuming that the interview is successful, the U.S. visa for parents will be granted, and they will be allowed to immigrate to the United States. Afterwards, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will mail their green card to their U.S. address. 

Get Expert Assistance With Sponsoring Parents to USA

Sponsoring your parents to come to the USA for a family petition can certainly be an overwhelming process. You need to ensure you meet eligibility standards, have the necessary personal and supporting documents, fill out your forms correctly, and submit them in the right place. And that’s just before the visa interview! 

In most cases, the best thing you can do for a loved one in this scenario is to get some outside help. Hiring an immigration expert who can personally guide you through the application will ensure that this process is less time consuming, more likely to be done accurately, more likely to be approved, and thus, more likely to get your parents the U.S. citizenship they want. Why take a chance with something so important?

You want someone with family immigration experience as you go through the process of bringing your parents to the U.S. Luckily, Consulta Immigration is here to help with all of your family petition and immigration needs. We offer affordable, empathetic, and accessible guidance from a team of experts who are committed to ensuring that you and your loved ones are reunited permanently in the United States. 

If you are a U.S. citizen looking to sponsor parents to come to the U.S.A., look no further. Contact Consulta Immigration for more information, and start your family-based immigration journey today, the right way.

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