How to become a permanent resident through your citizen child?

If your child is a US citizen, you are considered to be an immediate relative who will be eligible for a green card. This means that if you are a parent of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old, you can live and work in the US by applying for a green card under the immediate relative criteria.

If your child is a US citizen aged 21 or over, you can apply for permanent residency by doing the following:

Apply for lawful permanent residence (green card)

Parents who are legally living in the USA on a valid visa can apply for an adjustment of status by doing the following:

  • Submit an I-130 form. This is a petition submitted by a child that is a US citizen.
  • Submit Form I-485. This is submitted by the parent who is applying for permanent residency.
  • Provide supporting forms and documents. These include:
    • Proof of eligibility (birth certificate of child to prove you are the parent).
    • Form I-693 Medical Examination Sheet that must be completed by a designated Civil Surgeon.
    • Form I-864 Affidavit of Support (showing financial proof that there is financial means to reimburse any government agency which provide parents with any needs-based finance).
    • Form I-765. This must be submitted to enable parents to work in the US.
    • Form I-131. If you need to travel outside of the US during the application process this gives you what is called ‘advance parole’ preventing the green card application from getting cancelled.
    • Two passport style colour photos that have been taken within the last 30 days.
    • Birth certificate (with English translation if this is not in English).
    • Fee to cover the application and the biometrics/fingerprinting costs.
    • Criminal conviction details. If this is applicable, an applicant will be required to provide full details of any criminal convictions, which is likely to make the applicant inadmissible, depending on the severity of the crime.

The most common issues that prevent parents from being able to obtain a green card through a child that is a US citizen include the requirement for the child to be able to support their family including their parents, with a household income of 125% or more over the US poverty level.

Another stumbling block for applicants is that the costs of applying for a green card are expensive; the cost of filing Form I-130 is $535 and the Form I-485 has an application fee of $1225. Therefore, each applicant will need to be able to afford these fees before they start the application process.

Other barriers include having any criminal convictions or have had an overstay on a visa, which makes them inadmissible.

Parents of US Citizen living in the US Illegally

It is quite a common scenario for parents to be living in the US illegally and to have a child that has US citizenship. For example, parents may have arrived in the US on a tourist visa or another type of visa that expired and their child was born in the US and granted US citizenship on that basis.

Another scenario is that a child could have qualified for US citizenship through another route, such as marriage. If a parent has unlawfully remained in the US for longer than 180 days, they become inadmissible for three years. If the unlawful stay was for over a year long, they would be inadmissible for ten years. Therefore, they would not be able to apply for a green card until the relevant period had been spent.

Applying for a Green Card for parents living outside the US

In the case where parents live outside the US, the application would involve an interview at the US Embassy, where they would be required to provide all of the required documentation listed in the bullet points above.

The application would be reviewed and if there are criminal convictions or a previous overstay on a visa, they would be deemed as inadmissible to the US. However, if there are no issues such as these, the application should go through smoothly and the parent would be given an immigrant visa, and they would then become lawful permanent residents of the US.

In cases where an applicant is worried that there could be a problem preventing them from obtaining a green card, it is a good idea to speak to an immigration lawyer before they go through the full process and pay application fees and other costs.




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