VIDEO: Can a US citizen sponsor his mom or dad for a green card before turning 21?

We are sometimes asked, “can my son or daughter sponsor me for a green card before their 21st birthday?”  The short answer is no.  In order to sponsor a parent for an immigrant visa and green card, the US citizen must be 21 years old.

This video explains the age requirements and how the process works once the child turns 21.


Can someone under the age of 21 who is a US citizen sponsor their mom or dad for a green card? I am Jim Hacking, immigration and naturalization attorney here in St. Louis Missouri.

Every now and then, we get situations where someone comes to see us and their child is under the age of 21 and is a US citizen. A lot of times, this involves situations where the family had lived at some point in the United States, and then gone back overseas to where the child was raised across the ocean somewhere else, but because the child was born in the United States, the young person in the family is a US citizen and nobody else is.

Sometimes, people want to know, “How can we have our under the age of 21 child sponsor us for a green card?” The trick is, you have to wait until you’re 21. The law says that you have to be 21 in order to sponsor someone for a green card, so sometimes, people are waiting for the child to turn 21 to be able to sponsor them, and that leads to some interesting immigration situations.

You know, we had one case once where a young man had been born in the United States, and then his father was in the military, so they went and lived overseas in Germany. His mother had never gotten her green card through her marriage to her US citizen husband, and they since had gotten divorced. The son was about 20 years old and his mother was here on a visit. Her visit visa actually expired and her son was 20 years old when they came to see us. At that moment, he was ineligible to sponsor her for citizenship, so what we did is we waited until he turned 21. We got all the paperwork ready, and as soon as he turned 21, we filed for the mom to get a green card.

These cases are pretty straightforward. Even though the mom had been out of status, she was still able to adjust status here in the United States and that involves filing an I-130 application, a family-based visa application, an I-45 green card application. Sometimes with parent visas, they ask for an interview. Sometimes, they don’t. Typically, if the parent has been out of status or if there’s something unusual, they will require an interview. Obviously, the most important thing to prove is that the child is a US citizen, that they’re 21 and that they are the child of the person being sponsored. We usually do that with the birth certificate. It’s pretty straightforward once a person turns 21, but you can’t file before they turn 21.

They’re ineligible to sponsor them for citizenship, so that’s something to keep in mind. If you have any questions about naturalization or about how you can sponsor your mom or dad for a green card, give us a call (314) 961-8200 or you can shoot me an email, Thanks a lot.