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I want to bring my parent to the US. What options do I have?

Grandparents with their grandchildren

US immigration law considers one’s spouse and dependent children under 21 as part of an applicant’s household, so in many visa categories a visa holder can have their spouse and children join them on dependent visas.

Different strategies are needed when a foreign national is trying to have their parent(s) accompany them in the US. This post will explain some options.

Temporary visa holders

For foreign nationals living in the US in a non-immigrant status, such as an E-2, O-1, H1B, or F-1 visa, one option is for the parent to apply for a B1/B2 visa to accompany the foreign national through the duration of the foreign national’s temporary work (or study) arrangement in the US. The Foreign Affairs Manual provides the following explanation:

The B-2 classification is appropriate for applicants who are members of the household of another noncitizen in long-term nonimmigrant status, but who are not eligible for derivative status under that applicant’s visa classification. [. . . ] Such applicants include but are not limited to the following: cohabitating partners or elderly parents of temporary workers, students, foreign government officials or employees posted to the United States, officers or employees of an international organization posted to the United States, and accompanying parent(s) of a minor F-1 child-student.” 9 FAM 402.2-4(B)(5).

In these cases, the parent would need to show their intent to maintain their residence outside the United States and otherwise meet B visa eligibility requirements, such as proof of sufficient funds to support themselves. Once the parent is admitted to the United States, most likely for an initial stay of six months, the parent can apply to extend their status through USCIS if they wish to stay longer throughout the duration of the foreign national’s work or study program.

US Green Card Holders

For US green card holders, there is no special visa carved out for parents to be allowed to come to the US to accompany the foreign national long-term. The parent would apply for an ordinary B1/B2 visa to make temporary visits to the US green card holder.

US citizens

If an individual is or becomes a US citizen and is over 21 years old, they have the option to sponsor their parent for an immigrant visa should they wish to immigrate permanently to the United States. Parents of US citizens are considered “immediate relatives” so there is no backlog (delay) like other categories.

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