Whether your parent is in the US or still located abroad, Christine Troy is dedicated to re-uniting families and keeping them together. I have handled hundreds of green card for parents cases around the globe, using both the adjustment of status and consular processing methods.
My cases have included complex issues such as criminal arrests and/or convictions, unlawful presence in the United States, affidavit of support requirements, language issues and three or ten year bars. For all cases, I work very hard with my clients to ensure they can fully document the realities and legitimacies of their relationship and to minimize delay and stress while increasing the chance of approval up front.
What are the criteria for sponsoring a foreign parent?
The son or daughter must be a U.S. Citizen by birth or naturalization and over 21 years of age.
Biological parents and sometimes step-parents of U.S. Citizens are eligible to apply for a green card under this category. A U.S. Citizen may petition for his or her step-parent if the citizen's biological parent married his or her spouse prior to the 18th birthday of the U.S. Citizen.
Is there more than one way to apply for the green card?
Yes. There are actually two available options that allow the parent of a US citizen to obtain a green card via that relationship: adjustment of status in the United States or immigrant processing through a US consulate abroad.
My parent is in the United States. How do we apply for a Green Card?
When the parent of a US citizen is already in the United States, he or she is normally but not always eligible to remain here and file for a green card in country. This process is called Adjustment of Status. I highly recommend that you file this case using a competent immigration attorney. Procedures are as follows:
- The immigrant petition (I-130) and green card application is filed with DHS. The applicant can also ask for work authorization and permission to travel internationally at this time. These documents take at least 90 days to obtain.
- DHS cashes your filing fee checks and starts to process the application. Within several weeks, the applicant attends fingerprint appointment. DHS will then run the person's name and prints through numerous federal and international databases.
- DHS schedules an interview at the applicant's local DHS office or may approve without interview. A "normal" interview can last anywhere from ten minutes to an hour.
My parent is in a foreign country. How do we apply for a Green Card?
When the foreign parent is outside of the United States, obtaining a green card is called Consular Processing. It is a three step process that involves two federal agencies and a consular interview. For this reason, it is a fairly complex process with changing rules, regulations and preferences. Working with a competent immigration attorney can ensure that processing is handled as expeditiously and clearly as possible.
- The sponsoring US citizen child files the immigrant petition (I-130) with DHS and requests consular processing for the foreign parent. This process currently takes about 5-6 months but processing times can alter at any time.
- DHS forwards the petition to the National Visa Center for security checks and other processing. Both sponsor and applicant file new legal forms, pay new fees and submit numerous original documents. Essentially, the NVC acts as the secretary for all US consulates around the world. This agency is fairly disorganized and processing times are inconsistent. I review and organize documents carefully in an attempt to streamline processing through the NVC.
- The NVC forwards the petition to the U.S. Consulate in the parent's home country (or to the out of country US consulate designated to handle immigrant visa applications for that country). Processing times vary by consulate. The interview normally happens within 1-4 months after file transfer but can be shorter or longer, depending upon the US consulate.
- The US consulate gives last minute instructions (medical exam, photos, etc.) The parent goes to interview and normally within two weeks, is given an immigrant visa. Upon entry to the United States, he or she is processed for a green card at the port of entry.
Why would we hire an attorney to handle our case?
In my professional opinion, all green card applicants should hire a competent immigration attorney to handle the green card process. (And I do not say this for every visa category.) Your immigration attorney will analyze the applicant's eligibility for the benefit, fully vet the case for any issues or potential problems, and determine if and where the green card application may be filed.
There are many important factors, including intention upon entry, processing times, unlawful presence, financial stability and entering on the wrong visa that determine which process is the best for your case. Failure to analyze your case fully up front can result in denial and removal of the foreign parent from the United States. For this reason, I highly recommend that the family has a full consultation with a competent immigration attorney before getting married or embarking on this application process.
I have successfully obtained green cards for many parents of US citizens. Additionally, I work carefully with clients to ensure that the case is processed as quickly as possible, all questions are answered and all issues addressed in a clear, concise manner. Via these efforts, many of my clients, particularly in consular processing cases, are able to save months of valuable time and to be reunited with their spouse much sooner than anticipated.