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The Immigration Application Process for a U.S. Citizen's Parents

1. The Two-Step Process for Your Parent to Become a Legal Immigrant 

A legal immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. There is a two-step process for your parent to become a legal immigrant. 

The first step is the "Immigrant Petition" which establishes that a qualifying relationship exists between the sponsor and the foreign parent. The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition (Form I-130) that you filed for your parent. 

The second step is the application for the Green Card. If your parent is outside the United States, your parent will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your parent is inside the U.S., he or she may apply to adjust his or her status to lawful permanent resident using the Form I-485.

The application process depends on whether the alien parent is inside or outside of the United States. If the alien parent is already within the United States in a nonimmigrant status, the U.S. citizen can file an immigration petition (Form I-130), and the parent can file an application to adjust status to permanent resident (I-485) at the same time. If the alien parent is outside of the United States, the U.S. citizen should file an immigration petition (Form I-130), and request that USCIS notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the parent lives to go through a Consulate process.

2. The First Scenario - the Alien Parent Is already in the United States

There are two scenarios for parents of U.S. citizens to apply for immigration, the first scenario is that the alien parent is already in the United States in a nonimmigrant status or parole. In this case, the U.S. citizen may file an immigration petition (Form I-130) to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the parent, and the parent can file an application to adjust status to permanent resident (Form I-485 - Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status) at the same time. The parent does not need to wait for the immigrant visa number to become current, before he or she may apply to adjust to permanent resident. This means that you can file Form I-130 and Form I-485 concurrently for your parents at the same time to speed the process.

Because the foreign national parent is considered to be the immediate relative of the U.S. citizen child, many issues that would make adjustment of status impossible for another type immigrant will be waived for the parent. The Application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status, or Form I-485, can be filled out concurrently at the same time with Form I-130. However, Form I-485 can also be filed after the I-130 petition approval. As a U.S. citizen, you should also submit the Form I-864 that would help to support your claim that you can financially support your parents. At the time of filing for an Adjustment of Status, the parents can also apply for an Employment Authorization Card (EAD) and a permit (Advanced Parole) to travel out of the U.S.

After the submission of immigrant petition (Form I-130) and Green Card application (Form I-485), and the USCIS will process these applications. Within a few months, the parent may receive a fingerprint appointment. USCIS will schedule an interview at the local USCIS office. At the interview, the officer can approve the Green Card, or ask for additional evidence, or hold until the parent’s security clearance and fingerprints have been cleared by the FBI.

3. The Second Scenario - the the parent is outside the United States 

The process for obtaining a Green Card for parents of U.S. citizens where the parents are located outside the US is a little different than if the parents are in the U.S. In order to obtain a Green Card for parents of U.S. citizens where the parents are currently in a foreign country, the U.S. citizen child begins the process by submitting an immigrant petition to USCIS from within the United States. 

In this case, the U.S. citizen needs to file a Form I-130 petition and request that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the parent lives. Once USCIS approves the initial immediate relative petition, the application package moves to the U.S. State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) where each party to the application (parent and child) will be responsible for completing individual tasks. After the necessary forms are completed, the parent goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa and have an interview.

On the day that the parent enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes a U.S. permanent resident. The whole process may take about one year in most consulates. 


 

 

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