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The Eligibility Requirements for Sponsoring Your Parents' Immigration and Green Card

1. The Family Members Who Can Be in the United States Permanently

It is important for individuals to know what family members they might be able to bring to the United States permanently. U.S. permanent residents may sponsor neither their parents nor siblings for a Green Card. Only U.S. citizens may do this. However, even U.S. citizens may not bring siblings to the U.S. without an extended waiting period. 

Parents of U.S. citizens are regarded as "immediate relatives" and are not subject to numerical limitations. They only have to wait for the necessary paperwork processing. This includes the I-130 Form in the immediate relative category and consular processing for immigrant visa, if the parent is abroad. If the U.S. citizen's parent happens to be in the United States, then it may be possible to file the Form I-130 and Form I-485 at the same time, and obtain permanent residence in the U.S. 

The situation for siblings (brothers and sisters), however, is far different. They have to wait years before the Priority Dates in the sibling category of family-based fourth preference become current. Immigration benefits are only available if the priority date is current. The visa dates on the Visa Bulletin of the U.S. Department of State are updated monthly, usually around the 10th of each month.

2. The Eligibility Requirements to Sponsor a Parent for a U.S. Green Card

The United States promotes family unity and allows U.S. citizens to petition for certain relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. This includes the U.S. citizen’s mother and father. In order to file an immigrant petition for your parent, you must be a U.S. citizen and you must be at least 21 years of age. If you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, you are not eligible to sponsor your parent for U.S. Green Card.

Also, the U.S. citizen must be residing in the United States and be willing to financially sponsor the parents for a period of up to ten years. If the child does not have the financial resources to sponsor the parent, a family member or friend can help with the financial sponsorship. A Green Card for parents of lawful permanent resident is not available; a Green Card cannot be obtained for the parent of a Green Card holder until the child takes the oath of U.S. citizenship.

To be eligible to sponsor your parents to immigrate to the United States, you must meet the following criteria:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen and be able to provide documentation to prove your status; 

  • To sponsor your parents, you must be at least 21 years old;

  • You must prove that you can support your parents at 125% above the mandated poverty line.

  • Your can legally prove that you share the child-parent relationships.

To qualify as a parent of a U.S. citizen, a person must meet the similar test as for the child, it means that if the U.S. citizen is adopted, the adoption must have been finalized before the child's 16th birthday, the parent must have legal custody of the child for two years (before or after the adoption), and the child must reside with the adoptive parent for two years (before or after the adoption); and if the U.S. citizen is a stepchild of the alien parent, the current marriage of the patent must have been taken place before the child's 18th birthday.

3. The Requirement of Sufficient Income to Sponsor Parents Immigration

If you are a U.S. citizen, you can apply for U.S. green cards or U.S. lawful permanent residence for your parents, if you are at least 21 years old. U.S. citizen's parents are considered to be "immediate relatives" under the immigration laws, which means that there is no limit on the immigrant number in this category every year, and therefore no waiting time in the application process and immigrant visa number.

One important consideration is that the U.S. citizen should show sufficient income or assets to sponsor your parents at 125% of the U.S. poverty guidelines. This requirement is to make sure the parents are not likely "public charges," or people likely to receive need-based government assistance.

Also, it is important to realize that your parents can be denied the Green Cards, if they are inadmissible on other grounds, such as having a record of criminal convictions or immigration violations, or carrying a disease that presents a public health risk, or having a dangerous physical or mental disorder.

4. Other Issues for Family-Based Immigration 

  • Beneficiaries are strictly defined, and one has to meet the definition of its category at the time that the application of adjustment of status is approved. Those who do not meet the definitions cannot immigrate to the United States through family-based immigration.

  • An "immediate relative" of a U.S. citizen is the spouse, parent, widow, or child of the U.S. citizen. Specifically, a "child" is the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, who is unmarried and under the age of 21. An adopted child qualifies as long as the adoption was finalized before the child's 16th birthday. A stepchild qualifies as long as the marriage had occurred before the stepchild's 18th birthday. A "parent" must meet the same test as for the "child". One thing to point out is that a father-in-law or mother-in-law of a U.S. citizen are not "parents" of the U.S. citizen for immigration purposes.

  • More distant relatives, such as aunts / uncles, cousins, and grandparents cannot be sponsored for a Green Card. Even U.S. citizens cannot petition for these relatives. It may be possible to invite them for a temporary visit on a visitor's visa, depending upon whether they have sufficient ties to their respective home countries to show that they have no immigrant intent.

  • The permanent residents may not bring parents to live permanently in the United States. After they become citizen of the United States, they may help your parents become lawful permanent residents of the United States. Of course, they may also be sponsored if they are qualified and the sponsoring relative owns a business, or is able to find employment for the foreign national relative under the employment-based preference categories. 


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