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The Immediate Relatives of a U.S. Citizen and
Green Card Application for U.S. Citizen's Parents

1. The Family Members Can Be Sponsored for U.S. Green Cards

Parents of U.S. citizens are eligible for permanent resident status as immediate relatives. The U.S. citizen child must be 21 years of age or older to apply for a parent's immigration. The process of completing and submitting an application of Green Card for your relatives can be confusing. As a U.S. Citizen, you may submit an application for a Green Card if you have a close family relation, and you can sponsor the following family members:

  • Husband or wife;

  • Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen;

  • Brother or sister (including half-brothers and half-sisters);

  • Son or daughter (including illegitimate children);

  • Stepson or stepdaughter;

  • Stepparent of a U.S. citizen child;

  • Adopted son or daughter;

  • Adopted parent;

  • Father or mother;

  • Battered or abused spouse or child.

2. The Immediate Relatives of a U.S. Citizen and the Immigration Preferences

Parents of U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for permanent resident status as immediate relatives, but only if the U.S. citizen is 21 years older. One thing to point out is that the father-in-law and mother-in-law of a U.S. citizen are not "parents" of the U.S. citizen for immigration purposes. The "immediate relatives" of a U.S. citizen, including parents, spouses, widows, and children of a U.S. Citizen (children who are unmarried and under 21 years of age), can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any visa numerical restrictions. 

Immediate relatives may immigrate to the United States on a family based petition. This is the most attractive category, since there is no limitation to the number of immigrants who may qualify under this category and, in most cases, visa numbers are immediately available for these individuals to apply for lawful permanent residence. 

Immediate relatives include spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any numerical restrictions. This means there is no visa quota allowed under the immediate relative category, unlike other close family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen can apply for U.S. permanent resident status without any waiting time.

The rest of the relatives are divided into several groups called "preferences." Each preference is given a numerical quota per year to limit the number of immigrants admitted into the United States. The four preferences are as follows:

  • 1st Preference: applies to unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;

  • 2nd Preference: applies to spouses and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents;

  • 3rd Preference: applies to married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens;

  • 4th Preference: siblings of U.S. citizens.

3. Bring Your Parent to Live in the United States

Parents, unlike siblings, are considered by the USCIS as immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. This means parents are given priority. However, before the Green Card process is started, U.S. citizens must have enough income or assets to support their parents. The USCIS will take the income into account when granting Green Cards to parents.

Children can get Green Cards for their parents as long as they are at least 21 years old. In fact, many individuals, such as parents, become permanent residents through family members. There is no annual visa number limit for a U.S. citizen's parent immigration.  

As a U.S. citizen, you need to make sure that your parents fall into any of these categories:

  • Natural father or natural mother;

  • Stepfather or stepmother, if he or she married your parent before you were 18 years old;

  • Adopted father or adopted mother, if you were adopted before you turned 16 years old.

As a U.S. Citizen, you can petition for:

  • your mother;

  • your father, and you were born in wedlock;

  • your father, and you were born out of wedlock and legitimated;

  • your father, and you were born out of wedlock and was not legitimated;

  • your stepparent;

  • your adoptive parent. 

 

 


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