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Sponsoring a parent for green card approval

Having been through it yourself, you already know how hard and how long it can take to get approval to live in the United States. However, if you have citizenship now, it's easier to help your immediate family enter the country because you can sponsor them yourself. The US government defines immediate family as children, parents and siblings.

Requirements for eligibility

Before you can sponsor a parent, you'll need to meet specific guidelines yourself.

You must:

  • Be a US citizen.
  • Be at least 21 years of age.
  • Have economic means to support your relatives.
  • Have available copies of your Certificate of Naturalization or a US passport.
  • Have available copies of a birth certificate that identifies your parents. (Adoptive, stepparents, and out of wedlock fathers will require additional documentation.)

You will also need documentation proving the relationship between your parents. For your mother, this is generally a legal document that lists her relation, typically a birth certificate. To sponsor a father, additional proof may be required to show that you have an emotional connection instead and not just biological ties.

The following evidence may be required:

  • A copy of your parents' marriage certificate

For out of wedlock parents:

  • Evidence that you were legitimized by your father prior to adulthood
  • Evidence of an emotional bond with your father prior to adulthood

For stepparents and adoptive parents:

  • Evidence of your parents' marriage
  • Evidence that any previous marriages and divorces were finalized
  • Proof of adoption

Family relationships, even when "simple" and "immediate," can be complex and the law requires documentation each step of the way. However, with clear paperwork the path to sponsor a parent is easier than most other family members.

What happens next?

The US government allows a set number of immigrants each year. Non-immediate family must wait for their turn to come, but parents and other close family receive a special exception.

After filing your paperwork and passing through background checks, an approved parent can apply for a visa immediately. The parent will still have to wait "in line" for the opportunity to enter the US, but they enter the line much faster than distant relatives or friends, who will face a waiting period just to apply for a visa.

It's a complicated process to become a naturalized US citizen and it can feel like you're going at it alone. Working with experienced professionals who understand the language and documentation will make for fewer errors and a more precise process.

After finding a new home in the US, it's important to support your loved ones who are far away. Although the law is complicated and the approval process is slow moving, there are procedures to help you reconnect with your family and to share your new life without a border in between.

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