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Obtaining a Green Card Through Parents

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If your parents are citizens or legal permanent residents in the United States, you may be eligible as their biological child to apply for a green card. However, obtaining a green card through your parents can become pretty complicated depending on various circumstances, including your age, whether you are married and have children of your own, and whether you are qualified to legally enter the United States independent of your parents.

Knowing how United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approaches family relationships when it comes to green cards can be a big help when it comes to effectively pursuing your own. Our team of immigration attorneys want to provide you with more information about how your relationship with your parents could make you eligible for a green card, and what you should expect if you decide to file an application through this process.

How Family Preference Works for Immigrants Seeking Sponsorship

There are a few ways you can get a green card that allows you to legally enter and work in the United States. An employer can sponsor you because you have specialized skills that make you a good hire, or you can have an immediate family member who is already a U.S. citizen sponsor you.

Typically, only spouses, parents, and children under 21 can be considered “immediate relatives” in this context, but there are certain exceptions. If this definition does not fit your situation, your parents could still sponsor you for a green card under the following circumstances, in order of USCIS preference:

  • You are more than 21 years old and are not married, and your sponsoring parent is a U.S. citizen
  • You are under 21 years old and are not married, your sponsoring parent lives in the U.S. as a legal permanent resident, and they sponsor their spouse—your other parent—for a green card
  • You are more than 21 years old and are not married, and your sponsoring parent is a legal permanent resident of the U.S.
  • You are married, and your parent is a U.S. citizen

Documentation to Provide When Applying for a Green Card Through Parents

If you are currently in the United States legally and want to obtain a green card through your parents, you will need to fill out and file Form I-485, which is an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, as well as submit a copy of Form I-94 that you got from Customs and Border Protection when you first arrived in the United States. You will need a copy of Form I-797, which confirms that USCIS has received Form I-130 that states that your parent wants to sponsor you.

If you are in the United States illegally, you are not allowed to stay in the U.S. while your green card application is processed. If you have been in the country for too long, the USCIS may prohibit you from coming back for three or ten years depending on the circumstances. Additional forms may be required to waive this restriction, so you should talk to an immigration attorney if you are trying to get a green card while undocumented.

Finally, you will have to provide personal identifying information like a copy of your birth certificate, a copy of a government-issued ID, and two color photographs of yourself, as well as a photocopy of your current visa or admission stamp in your passport, if you have one. All these documents can be hard for anyone person to keep track of, but they are critically important if you want to maximize your chances of a obtaining a green card through your parents. Therefore, it is important that you speak with a knowledgeable attorney before beginning this process.

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