Published December 27, 2020

By Richard Hanus, Esq.

There are a couple dozen ways a foreign national can come live in the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident (aka as a “green card” holder) with most involving either a family or employer/employee relationship.  When it comes to family relationships, an adult U.S. citizen’s petition for their foreign national parent is among the most popular and efficient processes available.

The basic requirements: 1) the child filing on behalf of their parent must be 21 years of age or older, and 2) the petitioning child must be a U.S. citizen.  The adult child petitioner’s U.S. citizenship can be derived by way of being born in the U.S., through the naturalization process, or born overseas to a U.S. citizen qualified to transmit U.S. citizenship to their child at birth.  Further, the parent/child relationship can be premised on natural birth, adoption (under limited circumstances) or via a step- parent/step-child connection – as long as the step relationship was established prior to the petitioner child’s turning 18 years of age.

Once it is determined the requisite parent/child relationship exists, the next question is where and how the process will be facilitated.  Option A:  A parent who resides overseas may wish to be interviewed and undergo their immigrant visa process at a U.S. consular post in their home country.  Option B:   A parent temporarily present in the U.S., usually as a visitor, may decide to change their mind and have their adult U.S. citizen child initiate a process that will start and finish in the U.S. with the parent’s green card interview taking place at a local U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services (“US DHS/CIS”) office.  Under certain circumstances, the interview may even be waived and the parent will be issued their green card without ever having to appear before a DHS/CIS officer for questioning.

If Option A is the chosen path, the U.S. citizen child starts the process by filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with a US DHS/CIS office in the U.S.  Following approval, the case is eventually transferred to a U.S. Department of State consular post in the parent’s home country for interview and if all goes well, the parent is issued their immigrant visa.  From there, the parent enters the U.S. on their immigrant visa, and their permanent resident card, or green card, will be mailed to their U.S. residence within 90 days or so.  In the meantime while awaiting arrival of the physical card, the parent will have received a stamp on their passport serving as proof of their resident status for purposes of international travel or employment authorization.  Total processing time for this option is approximately 12 months, depending on a number of variables, including the visa processing volume and resources at the consular post in question.

If Option B is opted for and the foreign national parent is otherwise eligible, the parties will file a “one stop”, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative/I-485 Application to Adjust Status with US DHS/CIS.  The petitioned parent is also eligible to submit applications for employment authorization and an advance parole travel document if they seek to be employed or travel internationally while they await a decision on their green card filing.  Total processing time can range from 6 to 18 months, depending on various factors including whether the applicant is called to be interviewed at their nearest DHS/CIS office.  Once the filing is approved, the petitioned parent’s green card is mailed to the U.S. address as noted on their application.

Lastly, no matter which of the above options are chosen, among the various other requirements, the parties will also have to furnish a substantial amount of financial documentation toward the U.S. citizen petitioner’s guarantee that their petitioned parent will not become dependent on U.S. welfare benefits.

With changes to the legal and procedural landscape happening so frequently these days, U.S. citizens looking to facilitate their parents’ green card process may find it easiest and most efficient to retain experienced immigration counsel.  Taking the guesswork out of the process by hiring a reputable and proven immigration attorney, like Richard Hanus of the Law Offices of Richard Hanus, makes for less stress and a path where unnecessary delays and pitfalls are avoided.

PUBLISHED December 27, 2020– “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM” Copyright © 2020, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois


Also check out these other articles related to common immigration questions

How to get a green card through marriage
How to get a green card for your child
How to get a green card through your job