Green Card Process for Parents

By Mallory Ferland
Parents of U.S. citizens 21 or older are considered as immediate relatives and are not subject to visa caps and wait times.
Statue of Liberty image by sival from

The green card procedure for a mother or father sponsored by their U.S. citizen child is the same as for all other family-based petition procedures. The U.S. citizen must file a petition on the parents' behalf, and then the immigrant must apply for an U.S. immigrant visa. Parents of Legal Permanent Residents, or green card holders, are not eligible for green card sponsorship by their child.


Only U.S. citizens age twenty-one or older are qualified to petition permanent residency for their parents. Stepparents can be petitioned for as long as the petitioner can prove that they were married to your biological parent before your eighteenth birthday. Petitioners must also meet the financial sponsorship requirement of a household income at least 125 percent above the national poverty level.

I-130 Petition

Before the applicant can apply for an immigrant visa, the sponsoring son or daughter must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The form must be accompanied by copies of the petitioner's naturalization certificate, birth certificate, copy of parent's marriage certificate (for father, stepmother or stepfather) and evidence of emotional or financial connection to the petitioner, if the petition is filed for an illegitimate father. The application fee of $420 must be submitted with the forms and documents at the same time.


After USCIS approves the I-130 petition, the approved petition and the accompanying documents are forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). When the NVC receives the file, the applicant and petitioner are notified as to when and how to pay the appropriate filing fees. Once the fees are received, the NVC contacts the applicant and petitioner again, requesting additional documents. At that point, the applicant must send Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, and Form DS-230, Application for Immigrant Visa, along with any other documents requested by the NVC.

Medical Exam and Scheduling

If the NVC deems the application acceptable, the case will be forwarded to the U.S. Consulate General or the embassy presiding over the applicant's region of residence. After the consulate receives the file, an email or letter is sent to the applicant and petitioner that includes the date and time of the visa interview at the consulate or embassy with detailed instructions as to how to obtain the required medical examination and vaccination report.

Consular Interview

The applicant must attend the scheduled visa application interview on the date and time requested by the consulate. At the interview, the applicant must present an original passport, the completed medical exam and vaccination forms, two passport-size photographs and any additional documents or forms requested by the consulate. Following the interview, the applicant will have to submit to a digital fingerprint scan known as biometrics. If the visa is approved, the applicant will receive their passport back with the visa inside, along with a packet containing documents that must remained sealed until the visa holder enters through U.S. customs. After arriving in the United States, the applicant must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence and Adjust Status.