Parent of U.S. Citizen
In most circumstances, a U.S. Citizen is able to petition for his or her parents to gain permanent residency in the United States. Compared to other family-based immigration categories, qualifying parents are often able to more quickly obtain permanent residency because they are considered “immediate relatives” of the U.S. citizen child. As permanent residents, qualifying parents are eligible to work in the United States and may be eligible to obtain citizenship after five years. In the interest of uniting families, the United States even allows foreign national parents to overcome certain indiscretions that would otherwise bar a person from obtaining permanent residency (i.e. unauthorized work in the United States and being in the United States without authorization).
The main restriction to qualifying for this family-based petition is that the U.S. Citizen must be over twenty-one years old.
If the U.S. Citizen’s parent is inside the United States:
If the parent is inside the United States, multiple petitions can be submitted to USCIS concurrently. The petitions will need to demonstrate that a bona fide family relationship exists and that the parent is eligible to adjust status and become a permanent resident. When the foreign national parent applies for adjustment of status, he or she may also request work authorization and the ability to travel abroad. If all goes well and the petition for adjustment of status is granted, the foreign national spouse will be granted a “green card” as a permanent resident of the United States.
If the U.S. Citizen’s parent is outside of the United States:
If the parent is outside the United States, the process for obtaining permanent residency will involve a few additional steps than if the parent was in the United States. First, the U.S. Citizen will need to submit a petition to the USCIS and demonstrate that a bona fide family relationship exists with the parent. Once the petition to USCIS is approved, the foreign national parent will need to interview with a U.S. official at a U.S. consulate abroad. After the interview, a visa will be issued that will allow the foreign national parent to enter the United States and reunite with their U.S. Citizen child. Once in the United States, the foreign national parent will receive a lawful permanent residency card and will be able to work and travel abroad.
Citizenship: After five years of permanent residency, a noncitizen parent may be eligible to become a naturalized U.S. Citizens.
Work Authorization: After obtaining permanent residency, the noncitizen parent will be authorized to work in the United States.
Travel Abroad: After obtaining permanent residency, a noncitizen parent may be able to freely travel abroad. However, care must be taken to ensure that the permanent resident does not “abandon” his or her permanent residency by staying abroad for a significant amount of time.
For more information, please visit the USCIS website. To learn if your parent is eligible for permanent residency in the United States, please contact Gafner Law Firm.