Eligibility to Sponsor Your Parents

One of the great benefits of becoming a U.S. citizen is the opportunity to sponsor your parents to live permanently in the United States. Unfortunately, legal permanent residents are not eligible to sponsor parents at this time. You must also be at least 21 years old to file a sponsorship petition and be able to prove financial means to support your relative. You can sponsor your mother, father, an adoptive parent or a stepparent.

Your parent must also be eligible to adjust status once your petition is approved. Additionally, your parent must prove the financial means to support himself or herself. A criminal record, a past deportation or an unlawful presence in the United States may render your parent ineligible. However, inadmissibility may be waived in certain situations, so you should seek the advice of a qualified immigration lawyer if you have questions.

USCIS Forms You Will Need

You must file form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and all supporting documents and fees to sponsor your father or mother. If sponsoring both, you must file one for each parent. The purposes of this form are to determine your sponsorship eligibility and to establish your relationship.

If your parent is outside the United States, you must wait for approval of form I-130 before your parent is allowed to live and work here. However, a parent who is legally in the United States may file form I-485 application to adjust status at the same time as you submit the form I-130. Submitting these forms together usually allows the sponsored person to remain in the country during pendency of the application. Additionally, by submitting a form I-765 at that time, your parent can receive authorization to work.

Finally, you must prove you are able to financially support your parent. Form I-864 asks for information about your income, assets and other means of support, and requires you to agree to taking financial responsibility should the relative become a public charge.

What is the Timeline for Approval and the Costs?

You must file the appropriate fee along with each application. Currently, the fee for filing the I-130 sponsor petition is $535. Your parent’s application to adjust status is $1,140, in addition to an $85 biometric fee to pay for your parent’s fingerprinting and background check. Your parent may also pay $410 to apply for work authorization under form I-765. If the employment authorization request is filed at the same time as the adjustment of status application, your parent need only pay one biometric fee. This package generally equals $2,170 in total fees.

Unfortunately, the backlog has grown extensively for family-based immigrant visas. U.S. citizens sponsoring parents, children and spouses should expect to wait an average of 302 days. The good news is that adjustment of status that is filed simultaneously should be processed within that period. In the meantime, your parent can expect work authorization within 132 days. These processing times and costs may change from year to year, so check the USCIS website for updates before filing.

*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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