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How can I sponsor my parents for a green card?

A mother and daughter walking in a park while smiling

If you are a U.S. citizen and you would like to sponsor your parent(s) for a green card, there are 2 ways how your parents can get a green card: They can either apply for a green card at a Consulate or file an Adjustment of Status petition in the U.S.

This kind of green card petition is called a petition for an immediate relative. This means, that there is no limit of green cards assigned to this category and the green card for immediate relatives is always available.

Consular Processing

If your parents live outside the U.S. at the time of sponsorship, Consular Processing will be their only option.


You will first need to file an I-130 form with USCIS. After this form is approved (usually takes several months), they can start the Consular Processing aspect of the application – this will include paying a government fee, filing form DS-260 and submitting supporting documentation (such as civil documents) to the government. The National Visa Center (NVC) will then schedule an interview with your parents where a final decision on the petition will be made (before the interview, your parent(s) will need to complete a medical exam). Please note that if the Consulate approves their petitions, they will not be issued the actual green card at the Consulate – they will be issued immigrant visas that allow them to come to the US and they will then need to pay a green card fee and apply for the green card in the U.S.

Adjustment of Status

If your parents live in the U.S. on a non-immigrant visa status (e.g. E-2, H-1B), they could file an Adjustment of Status petition with USCIS. You as the sponsor will still need to file the I-130 petition, but the I-130 and I-485 petitions can be filed concurrently. Please note that your parents cannot adjust status if they came on ESTA and generally cannot adjust status if they came on a B visa. The benefit of filing an Adjustment of Status petition is that your parents could stay in the US while the petition is pending, and while it’s pending they could apply for a work and travel authorization.

Each approach has its advantages and disadvantages and you should discuss the strategy with an experienced immigration attorney.

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