Families are meant to be together, and reuniting families of legal residents of the United States is possible using special provisions by certain American immigration policies.
The US immigration law allows citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs or Green Card holders) to sponsor their parents to come to the United States as lawful permanent residents. This process is known as “parent sponsorship.”
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To sponsor a parent, the citizen or green card holder must:
- Be at least 21 years old
- Prove sufficient income or assets to support their parent(s) financially in the U.S.
- File a petition (Form I-130) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
The parent or parents who will be sponsored must also undergo medical examinations, background checks, and an interview at a relevant U.S. Consulate before being approved for an immigrant visa.
In general, family-sponsored preference visas are limited to 226,000 visas per year, so there may be long wait times for processing. Additionally, the sponsoring citizen or LPR must continue to provide financial support for their parent(s) after they arrive in the U.S.
Steps on sponsoring parents for green card holders in the United States
- Determine eligibility of sponsor: The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. The sponsor must also prove sufficient income or assets to support their parent(s) in the U.S.
- File a petition: The sponsor must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Provide evidence: The sponsor must provide evidence of their relationship with the parent(s) and their financial support.
- Pay the required fees: The sponsor must pay the appropriate filing fees, which may include fees for the I-130 petition and an Affidavit of Support.
- Wait for approval of application: After USCIS receives the petition, it may take several months to a year for a decision to be made. The parent(s) will be notified if their petition is approved.
- Attend a medical examination: If the petition is approved, the parent(s) must undergo a medical examination.
- Apply for a visa: If the medical examination is cleared, the parent(s) must apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy.
- Attend an interview: The parent(s) must attend an interview at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy to discuss their immigration history, background, and other information.
- Wait for visa approval: After the interview, the parent(s) must wait for a decision on their visa application. If approved, they will receive their immigrant visa and can travel to the U.S. to become lawful permanent residents.
It’s important to note that the process can be complex and time-consuming, so it’s recommended to work with an immigration attorney if possible.
Cost of sponsoring parent visa
The cost to sponsor a parent for a green card holder in the United States can vary depending on various factors such as filing fees, attorney fees, and medical examination costs.
As of 2021, here are some of the estimated fees:
- Form I-130 filing fee: $535
- Affidavit of Support fee: $88 (if required)
- Medical examination fee: Varies, but typically between $200 and $400
- Attorney fee: Varies, but can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars
These fees are subject to change over time. Additionally, there may be additional costs for translations, photocopies, and postage, among others.
In many cases, the U.S. citizen or green card holder sponsor may also be responsible for providing financial support for their parent or parents after they arrive in the U.S., which can add to the overall cost.
Guide to hiring an immigration lawyer
When looking for an immigration lawyer to help with sponsoring a parent it’s important to look for an attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in family-based immigration law. Here are some factors to consider:
- Experience: Look for an attorney who has extensive experience handling parent sponsorship cases and is familiar with the latest immigration laws and procedures. Their calling cards may include immigration or visa-related experience.
- Reputation: Read reviews from previous clients, check the attorney’s rating with organizations like Avvo or Martindale-Hubbell, and ask for referrals from trusted friends or family members.
- Communication skills: Choose an attorney who is easy to communicate with, responsive to your questions through various communication channels, and provides clear and concise answers.
- Attention to detail: Ensure the attorney is meticulous in reviewing the case, gathering all necessary documents, and ensuring that the petition is filed correctly. While this may be challenging to determine before hiring the lawyer, a little mishap when handling your case should be treated as a red flag and must be scrutinized carefully.
- Availability: Look for an attorney who is available to answer your questions and provide guidance throughout the entire process.
- Fees: Consider the attorney’s fee structure and make sure you understand what services are included.The cost of hiring an immigration lawyer varies depending on the specific case and the lawyer’s experience and location. On average, immigration lawyers charge anywhere from $100 to $400 per hour, with some charging a flat fee for a specific service. Complex cases, such as those involving multiple visas or deportation proceedings, may cost more.
- Results: Look for an attorney with a good track record of obtaining successful results for their clients.
It’s also a good idea to have an initial consultation with the attorney to get a better understanding of their experience, approach, and how they can help you.
Applications for family sponsorship for green card holders in the United States are typically submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
How to submit an application for parental sponsorship visas
There are several ways to submit the application, including:
- Online filing: Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, can be filed online through the USCIS website.
- Mail filing: The form and supporting documents can be mailed to the appropriate USCIS Lockbox facility.
- In-person filing: In some cases, the form and supporting documents can be filed in person at a USCIS field office, but this option is limited and available by appointment only.
Check the USCIS website for the most up-to-date information on where to file the form and what supporting documents are required. The USCIS website also provides step-by-step instructions and guidance for completing the form.
In some cases, it may also be helpful to work with an immigration attorney who can assist with the application process and ensure that the petition is filed correctly.
What to do when a parent visa application is rejected
If an application for family sponsorship for green card holders in the United States is rejected by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are a few options available, including:
- Request for reconsideration: Depending on the reason for the rejection, you may be able to request that USCIS reconsider its decision. This option is typically only available if there was a mistake made by USCIS or if new evidence was discovered that was not available at the time of the original decision.
- Appeal the decision: If the request for reconsideration is not successful, you may be able to file an appeal with the USCIS Administrative Appeals Office (AAO). The AAO will review the case to determine if the original decision was made correctly.
- Motion to reopen or Motion to reconsider: In some cases, you may be able to file a motion to reopen or a motion to reconsider if there was a mistake made by USCIS or if new evidence has been discovered.
- Re-file the application: If the original application was denied due to missing information or evidence, you may be able to re-file the application with the necessary information.
It’s important to keep in mind that each case is different, and the specific option available to you will depend on the reason for the rejection. Working with an immigration attorney can be helpful in navigating the appeals process and increasing your chances of success.
How much money is required to sponsor a family member
The minimum income requirement to sponsor a family member depends on the size of the sponsor’s household and the number of people they are sponsoring. The sponsor must provide evidence that they have sufficient income to support the sponsored relative and ensure that they will not become a public charge, or dependent on government assistance.
As of 2021, the minimum income requirement is calculated using the Federal Poverty Guidelines, which are updated annually. The sponsor must demonstrate that their income is at least 125% of the federal poverty line for their household size.
The sponsor is also required to submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, which is a legally binding contract between the sponsor and the U.S. government. The Affidavit of Support ensures that the sponsored relative will not become a public charge and that the sponsor will provide financial support if necessary.
It’s important to note that while meeting the minimum income requirement is necessary, it may not be sufficient in all cases. USCIS will consider other factors, such as the sponsor’s credit history, employment history, and assets when evaluating the sponsor’s ability to support the sponsored relative.
In some cases, a co-sponsor may be required if the sponsor does not meet the minimum income requirement. A co-sponsor must also meet the minimum income requirement and sign a separate Affidavit of Support.
Waiting time for processing of family sponsorship petition
The processing time for a family sponsorship petition can vary depending on many factors, including the type of petition, the backlog of cases at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and the complexity of the case.
As of 2021, the average processing time for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is approximately 6 to 12 months. However, this time frame can be longer or shorter depending on the specific case and USCIS workload.
It’s important to keep in mind that processing times are subject to change, and USCIS provides regular updates on processing times on its website. In some cases, expedited processing may be available for an additional fee.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Form I-130 is just the first step in the family sponsorship process. Once the Form I-130 is approved, the sponsored relative must go through additional processing steps, including consular processing if they are outside the United States, and security and background checks, which can add additional time to the overall process.
It is recommended to work with an immigration attorney who can assist with the application process and provide an estimate of the processing time based on the specific case.
Age limit of a sponsored family relative
There is no age limit for sponsoring a relative for lawful permanent residency in the United States. However, the sponsor’s ability to support the sponsored relative is a key factor in the evaluation of the sponsorship petition.
The sponsor must demonstrate that they have sufficient income to support the sponsored relative and ensure that they will not become a public charge, or dependent on government assistance. This requirement is determined by the Federal Poverty Guidelines and the sponsor must demonstrate that their income is at least 125% of the federal poverty line for their household size.
In some cases, an elderly relative may be unable to support themselves and may become a public charge. In these cases, the sponsor may be required to provide additional documentation or evidence of the relative’s financial situation, including proof of financial support from other sources, such as pensions, retirement accounts, or assistance from other family members.
If the relative is elderly and requires assisted living, the sponsor may also be required to provide evidence of the relative’s financial ability to pay for the assisted living, or that the sponsor is willing and able to provide financial support for the relative.
It’s important to note that each case is unique and USCIS will consider a variety of factors when evaluating the sponsorship petition, including the sponsor’s income, employment history, and assets, as well as the relative’s age, health, and financial situation.