A Step by Step Guide to Apply for a Green Card for Your Parents

If you are an adult over 21 years living in the United States, you probably want your doting parents living abroad to join you. As a lawful citizen of the US, you can help your parents to share your American dream by applying for a green card for parents.

As a result, instead of getting them a visiting visa, you can have them by your side to live as a permanent resident in the US. According to statistics, about 150,000 parents apply for a green card each year with the help of their son or daughter who lives in the US.

Here’s a step by step guide to help you apply for a green card for your parents:

Step 1: Check the Eligibility Requirements

In order to apply for a green card for your parents, they have to be eligible for admission to the US. As a son or daughter, you have to be over 21 years and a US citizen. You can file for permanent residency for your legal parents, including:

Birth parents

Adoptive parents


Blended or modern family with a parent to a child born out of wedlock legitimated before their 18th birthday

Apart from the above eligibility requirements, applicable rules like the public charge rule may make it challenging for parents to file for a green card.

Similarly, there are other inadmissibility criteria, including health-related grounds, criminal convictions, etc., that may deny green card application permission. In such cases, you need to apply for a waiver of inadmissibility or other forms of relief.

Therefore, check the eligibility requirements thoroughly to assess if your parents qualify for green card processing.

Step 2: File an Immigration Petition for Your Parents

After you have confirmed eligibility, you can file a formal petition on behalf of your parents. Form I-130, Petition for an alien relative, is available at the USCIS website and should be duly filled with accurate information along with the petition filing fees of $535. If filing for each parent, you need to fill two I-130 forms separately.

Along with Form I-130, you also need to submit valid proof of evidence. The evidence may vary depending on the parental relationship:

Birth parents – Birth Certificate copies with your name and parents’ name, proof of your naturalization certificate or US passport, copy of parent’s marriage certificate.

Adopted parents – Apart from the above proof, you also need to submit a certified copy of the adoption certificate proving that the adoption took place before your 16th birthday, a statement validating the dates and locations you have lived with your parents.

Stepparents – Apart from the above proof in item 1, a copy of the civil marriage certificate of your birth parent to your stepparent showing the date of marriage, which should be earlier than your 18th birthday, proof of any divorce or annulment decrees, death certificates to show that the end of any previous marriage by your natural or stepparent.

The USCIS typically takes a minimum of 6 months to assess the forms. However, filing form I-130 alone will not approve green card status for your parents. There are additional steps you need to take to complete the application.

Step 3: Submit the Green Card Application Paperwork

The processing time of green cards for your parents may vary depending on the circumstances. The application path may differ depending on whether your parents are currently residing in the US or outside the US. Here are the steps you need to take to prepare the paperwork for either path:

Adjustment of Status (If parents are in the US currently) –

If your parents are presently residing in America, they have to file the form I-485 to adjust status. This form can be filed together with Form I-130 or after you file I-130.

However, if you file together, the parents’ green card’s processing time may be reduced than other methods as long as your initial form I-130 is approved. To file for status adjustment, you have to incur an initial filing fee of $1140 plus an additional biometric fee of $85 (if your parents are 79 or older). Your parents will also need to submit two passport photos, government-issued identification, birth certificates and proof of their legal entry to the United States. You may also need to submit Form I-864 Affidavit of Support. This form is used to prove that you can offer your parents financial support so that they don’t have to depend on the government for any assistance. Your parents also need to submit Form I-944 to declare there is no possibility that they become a public charge to the United States after they become a lawful permanent resident.

It’s recommended to submit it, including a cover letter at the front of the green card application. After you apply, you will receive updates about the status via the mailing address provided to the USCIS. If the USCIS requires any additional evidence, they will notify you.

After filing, your parents will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment and interview (in most situations, the interview will be waived), which are the last steps. After the formal interview (if any), you may be notified of approval through the mail. The physical green card will also be mailed to you following the approval notice.

Consular Processing (If parents are outside the US) –

Under this pathway, you and your parents have to submit all the paperwork through a US embassy or consulate’s online portal at Once the initial form I-130 gets approved by the USCIS, the immigration petition is sent to the National Visa Centre (NVC) for consular processing.

The NVC will then contact you and your parents after it generates the NVC case number. The following steps will complete the green card for parents’ consular application:

File form DS-261 – After a NVC case number is created, your parents have to file form DS-261, and once it’s processed, they have to pay $445 along with the State Department’s application processing fee of $325 and the financial support form fee of $120.

File form DS-260 and I-864 Affidavit of Support – The next step is to file form DS-260 and I-864 Affidavit of Support for the consular filing process’s actual green card application. Civil documents of parents such as passport, passport photos, birth certificates, marriage certificate or divorce paper, police clearance certificate, etc., must be submitted as well.

After the NVC finishes the document review, it will schedule an immigrant visa interview for your parents and meanwhile forward the case to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the home country of your parents or the country where they have permanent residence. Your parents should attend the interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate according to the interview notice sent by the NVC. They also need to bring all documents to the interview as instructed by the interview notice.

If they pass the interview, they will be issued an immigrant visa in their passport. With this immigrant visa, they can land in the United States as a lawful permanent resident. Their green card will be mailed to them within 120 days upon their entry to the United States.

It’s best to seek professional guidance from expert immigration lawyers to file for a green card for your parents and simplify the end-to-end process for assured success.

If you have any questions, please ask below!