How to Help A Parent Become a US Citizen
United States Immigration laws allow an adult son or daughter to sponsor a parent for the U.S. permanent residency and as a result, U.S. citizenship. There are certain requirements that a sponsoring child has to meet. First, the child has to be at least 21 years old. In addition, the child has to be able to execute an affidavit of support, form I-864 and meet minimum income requirements. In case a child does not produce sufficient income, he/she may use alternative ways to show that the parent will not become a public charge, for example, an affidavit by a joint sponsor. A child may sponsor a stepparent, if the stepchild/stepparent relationship occurred before the child’s 18th birthday. A child will not be allowed to sponsor a biological parent, if the child received his/her U.S. immigrant status through adoption.
The first step in sponsoring process is to submit a USCIS form I-130. With the form, the petitioner has to submit required documents proving the child/parent relationship: a copy of the child’s birth certificate, for example. The next step will depend on whether the parent in the United States will be applying for an adjustment of status (in other words will be receiving permanent resident status without leaving the United States), or if the parent is overseas and will be applying for an immigrant visa abroad. The forms that a parent will have to submit will differ in these two situations, but the supporting documents will be mostly the same: a parent’s birth certificate, a result of the medical exam in a sealed envelope, I-864 form.
Many parents of U.S. citizen children are already in the United States, but they came here without inspection by “crossing the border.” In most such cases, a parent would have to apply for an immigrant visa at a consulate to become a permanent resident, and would have to leave the United States to appear at an interview. Unfortunately, by leaving the country, a parent would trigger an unlawful presence 3/10 year bar and will not be able to return to the United States without an approved waiver application. The good news is that in many cases, a parent would be able to qualify for an I-601A provisional waiver, which allows to receive the result of the waiver application prior to leaving the United States.
If the visa application or an adjustment of status application is approved, a parent will become a United States permanent resident and in five years may become a U.S. citizen.
Alena Shautsova is a New York Immigration attorney. She is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, American Bar Association, New York State Bar Association. She is one of the youngest delegates to the American Bar Association House of Delegates and a representative to the United Nations from the American Bar Association. She has been practicing law in the United States since 2008.