How can I apply for a Green Card for my parents with Jacob Sapochnick

In this video, attorney Jacob Sapochnick explains the process for a United States Citizen to petition his or her parents for a green card, through adjustment of status (for those lawfully residing in the U.S.) or Consular processing (for those residing overseas).

If you want to know more about the eligibility requirements to do so, and how long it is currently taking for USCIS to approve green card applications for parents, please keep on watching.


Every year, thousands of people apply for green cards in different categories. One of the most common filings are green cards for parents of U.S. Citizens.

First, let’s discuss the requirements to file your parent’s green card.

To file the green card petition for your parents, you must be a U.S. Citizen that is 21 years of age or older. As proof of your qualifying family relationship to your parent, you will be required to provide a photocopy of your birth certificate.

As the petitioner (the U.S. Citizen family member filing the green card application with USCIS), you will also be required to file what is known as the I-864 Affidavit of Support. Form I-864 is your contract with the U.S. government promising to provide adequate financial support for your parent until they become a U.S. Citizen. As part of this process, you must prove to the U.S. government that you meet 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines according to your household size by providing verification of employment, and income verification documents.

Finally, your parent must intend to reside in the United States upon approval and issuance of their green card.

Procedure to Apply for the Green Card

There are generally two ways to immigrate your parent to the United States depending on where they are living: (1) adjustment of status or (2) consular processing.

Adjustment of Status

If your parent is currently inside the United States, and gained admission through a lawful basis, they may qualify to apply for their green card through a process known as adjustment of status by filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

As a general matter your parent must be present in the United States after being “inspected and admitted” or “inspected and paroled” by an immigration officer. In normal circumstances, this means that your parent entered the United States with a valid visa and is inside of the United States on that visa status.

However, please be aware that there are limited exceptions to this general requirement. You must consult and seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney to determine whether your parent qualifies for an exception to this general requirement.

What is the process to apply for Adjustment of Status?

Those who qualify must properly file Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS to establish your qualifying family relationship to the intending immigrant. As mentioned previously, this also requires the U.S. Citizen to file the Form I-864 Affidavit of Support, proving that you meet the income requirement to sponsor your relative.

At the same time, your parent must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS, along with all supporting documentation proving their eligibility.

Processing time for Family-based Adjustment of Status

The processing times for adjustment of status petitions based on a qualifying family relationship vary depending on the field office or service center where the petition is being adjudicated. On average, the processing time can take between 15 months to 20 months depending on your geographic location.

What happens if my parent entered legally but overstayed their visa?

If your parent lawfully entered the United States, for instance on a B1/B2 tourist visa, but subsequently overstayed his or her visa, they may still be eligible to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with USCIS. Again, you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney to evaluate the circumstances of the overstay.

Immigrant Visa through Consular Processing

If your parent is residing overseas, meaning they are not currently inside the United States in a lawful visa status, then they may apply for an immigrant visa at their nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy overseas.

The first step in this process is for the U.S. Citizen petitioner to file Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS along with all supporting documentation demonstrating eligibility.

Once the Form I-130 has been approved by USCIS (typically about a year wait), the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center for the collection of further documentation to prepare for the case to change hands to the nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy where your parent is residing. The NVC process includes submission of the DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application on CEAC, payment of the visa fees, submission of the I-864 Affidavit of Support, submission of civil documents, and the medical examination.

Once all documents have been submitted to the NVC and the case is documentarily complete, the applicant will be scheduled for the immigrant visa interview at their nearest U.S. Consulate or Embassy.

If your parent is approved at the interview, they will receive an immigrant visa in their passports valid for a period of 6 months. After their arrival and admission to the United States, they will receive their green card by mail within 30 days.

How long does it take for an immigrant visa to be issued?

Consular processing of immigrant visas is taking a long time, with some applicants waiting over a year after their cases have been documentarily complete to receive an immigrant visa interview appointment. The processing time for immigrant visas varies depending on the country and Consulate involved. Countries with higher demand for visas are taking much longer to provide immigrant visa interview appointments. In general, you should expect a wait time of at least 2 to 3 years for your immigrant visa to be processed.

Which process is better?

It really depends. If your parent is not inside of the United States, then their only option may be to apply for an immigrant visa at a Consulate overseas. If your parent is inside the United States in lawful status, then they may be able to proceed with the adjustment of status process while inside the country.

How soon can my parents be eligible for U.S. citizenship?

Parents of U.S. Citizens are eligible to apply for U.S. Citizenship five years after becoming a lawful permanent resident (LPR – green card holder).

Contact us. If you would like to schedule a consultation, please text 619-483-4549 or call 619-819-9204.

Helpful Links


Need more immigration updates? We have created a new facebook group to address the impact of the new executive order and other changing developments related to COVID-19. Follow us there.

For other COVID 19 related immigration updates please visit our Immigration and COVID-19 Resource Center here.