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Many immigrants who live in the United States want to “sponsor” their parents to come to the United States either to visit their family or to live permanently with their family. The term “sponsor” usually means to bring to the United States or “petition for.” Such immigrants often reach out to immigration lawyers in the United States for guidance on how to sponsor their parents to come to the United States for either purpose.

This article will help answering some of the basic questions you may have if you would like your parents to permanently move to the United States. However, we encourage you to talk to an experienced lawyer about your specific case in order to avoid any potential problems and complications.

According to USCIS, to petition for your parents (mother or father) to live in the United States as green card holders, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. Green card holders (permanent residents) may not petition to bring parents to live permanently in the United States. You can find more information at http://www.uscis.gov/i-130.

a) Can I Petition for My Mother?

If you are a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old, and your mother lives outside the United States, you can file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with supporting documents showing your family relationship. You must file a separate Form I-130 with supporting documents for each of your parents.

Please note that, if you gained your U.S. permanent residency and citizenship through adoption, you cannot petition for your natural (birth) mother.

b) Can I Petition for My Father?

If you are a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old, and your father lives outside the United States, you can file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative with supporting documents showing your family relationship. You must file a separate Form I-130 with supporting documents for each of your parents.

Please note that, to petition for your father, you will need to provide additional supporting documents, especially if your parents were not married at the time you were born. If your parents did not get married before you were 18, you will need to provide evidence of the parent-child relationship between you and your father.

If you gained your U.S. permanent residency and citizenship through adoption, you cannot petition for your natural (birth) father.

c) Can I Petition for a Step-Parent?

You can petition to bring your step-parent to live in the United States, provided that the marriage between your natural parent and step-parent occurred before your 18th birthday.

d) Can I Petition for an Adoptive Parent? 

You can petition to bring your step-parent to live in the United States, provided that the adoption occurred before your 16th birthday and you were in the custody of and living with your adoptive parent for at least two years prior to filing of the petition.  

e) What to Expect After Filing Your Petition? 

If your I-130 petition is approved, and your parent is outside the United States, their case will be transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will collect fees, supporting documents, and online immigrant visa application (Form DS-260). During the NVC processing, you will need to provide financial information to show that you can financially support your parents. If your income is insufficient, you may need to find a co-sponsor. Your parents will also need to provide police certificates from all countries where they resided for a year or more.

Then, your parent will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate for a visa interview to complete visa processing. Your parents will need to undergo a medical examination. They may also need to provide additional documents depending on specifics of their case and on the country where they live. You can find more information at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/immigrate/immigrant-process/approved.html.

If your parent is currently in the United States, he or she may be eligible to file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status (Form I-485), at the same time as you file Form I-130.

It is important to get in touch with a good immigration lawyer in the United States as early as possible to avoid potential problems and to plan the best immigration strategy for your family. Attorneys at I.S. Law Firm have provided immigration help to many immigrants and their families. To learn more about our services and for consultation, please contact us at +1-703-527-1779 or via e-mail: [email protected].