Green Cards for Parents of U.S. Citizens

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Just became a U.S. citizen and want to sponsor your mom or dad in another country for a green card? In order to keep families together, U.S. immigration law allows for U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents. Since parents of U.S. citizens qualify as immediate relatives, the processing time is faster than other categories.

What are the eligibility requirements?

  • The U.S. citizen son or daughter is at least 21 years old and can financially sponsor the parent seeking a green card; and 
  • The green card seeker is also at least 21 years old and the biological, adoptive, or step-parent of the U.S. citizen child. 

Timing for filing a green card is important for every foreign national! Speak to an experienced immigration attorney before filing a green card application.

What’s the Process? 

If you are a foreign national parent of a U.S. citizen adult child, you may apply for a green card while inside or outside the U.S. 

If you are currently in the U.S. legally, you must file Form I-485, while your U.S. citizen adult child files Form I-130. Together these forms are filed concurrently with your supporting documents to USCIS. Once USCIS is ready to make a decision on adjudicating your case, you will be scheduled to appear at an interview at a local USCIS field office. If the USCIS officer approves your case you will receive a decision in the mail along with your green card. 

If you are currently residing outside the U.S., your U.S. citizen adult child must file Form I-130 and supporting documents with USCIS. Once USCIS approves the I-130, the U.S. Department of State will contact you to apply for a visa. Once the application for a visa is completed, you will be scheduled for an appointment to appear at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad for an interview. Once you are approved you will receive a visa and can enter the U.S. as a permanent resident. Following your entry into the U.S. you will receive your green card. If you are a native-born or naturalized U.S. citizen and your parents are citizens of another country, they are eligible to come and live permanently in the U.S.

U.S. immigration law currently prioritizes family reunification. That means U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents can file family petitions on behalf of close relatives to enable them to immigrate to the U.S. and reunify with family.

Immediate relative petitions, which include green-card petitions for parents, are not limited by quotas and typically take one year to process.

The Alcorn Immigration Law team can help with all family petitions.

Eligibility Requirements

A U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old to sponsor a parent for a green card. A U.S. citizen must be cautious about timing and should speak with an immigration attorney about the process to make sure the citizen is eligible to apply on behalf of a parent.

A parent is eligible for a green card if:

  • Your child is at least 21 years old.
  • You are the biological, adoptive, or step-parent.
  • You have a financial sponsor. Each relative who comes to the U.S. based on a U.S. citizen’s petition must have a financial sponsor. If your sibling will be your sponsor, she or he must file Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support). If your adult child doesn’t meet the financial qualifications, another individual will need to make the commitment and file Form I-864 on your behalf.

Application Process

The parents of a U.S. citizen may apply for a green card from either inside or outside the United States. A separate petition must be filled out for each parent.

If the parent of the U.S. citizen is already in the U.S. legally, the petitioner must be cautious about the timing of the filing. As stated before, we recommend consulting with an immigration attorney. Once that is done, the quickest and easiest way to apply is as follows:

  • A parent fills out Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status).
  • The U.S. citizen child fills out Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative).
  • The financial sponsor fills out Form I-864.
  • Submit all forms along with all supporting evidence, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

If the parent of the U.S. citizen is outside the U.S., the parent may apply to become a permanent resident at a U.S. embassy or consulate, also known as consular processing. To apply, the following steps must be taken:

  • The U.S. citizen must fill out and submit Form I-130 and supporting evidence to USCIS.
  • If USCIS approves the petition, the U.S. Department of State will invite the parent to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad.
  • The parent should pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee after receiving an immigrant visa packet from the U.S. embassy or consulate where the parent applied and before traveling to the U.S.
  • Once the parent is in the U.S., the parent should submit Form I-485 along with supporting evidence to USCIS for a green card (permanent residency).

We Can Help

Figuring out immigration law can be difficult and confusing. The Alcorn Immigration Law team can help. Questions? Contact us.


  • Fees
    • Form I-485: $1,140
    • Form I-130: $535
    • Form I-864 if filed in the U.S.: $120
    • USCIS Immigrant Fee if coming to the U.S. from abroad: $165
    • Biometrics fee for applicants ages 14 to 78: $85
  • Related Forms
    • Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status)
    • Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative)
    • Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support)
    • Other forms may be required depending on your situation.
  • Steps
    • If parent is in the U.S., parent fills out Form I-485, U.S. citizen fills out Form I-130; forms and evidence are submitted together.
    • If parent is outside the U.S., U.S. citizen files Form I-130; parent will be contacted by U.S. Department of State to apply for immigrant visa.
  • Period of Stay
    • Indefinitely!