Who is Eligible to Apply for Green Card for Parents?

Updated on 03/18/2023

When you are living and working in the United States, you are likely creating wonderful memories that you wish you could also share with your parents. If your mom or dad is living abroad, and you want to bring them to the USA for more than just a visit, in other words, get green card for parents.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows some individuals in America to apply to bring their parents to this country to live as lawful permanent residents in the U.S. In fact, each year about 150,000 parents achieve lawful permanent resident status (green card), according to data compiled by the USCIS.

Green Card for Parents

1. Who is eligible to apply for green card for parents?

In order to be able to sponsor a parent for a green card, the petitioner must be a United States citizen (USC). That means that even if a son or daughter has achieved their own green card, they still cannot sponsor their parent for one.

Additionally, a son or daughter who is a naturalized or native-born United States citizen must be at least 21 years old. The parent-child relationship need not be by blood relationship, however.

A USC is who is at least 21 years old who has been adopted by their parents may be able to apply for green cards for their adoptive mother and father. The USCIS recognizes that all families are not the same and that there are many types of modern parental relationships.

Therefore, if a U.S. citizen comes from a blended family, they might consider filing a green card application for a step-parent. Moreover, if a USC has parents who were not married to each other, the son or daughter can still apply for lawful permanent residency for their mom or dad.

Not sure if you are eligible to apply for green card for your parent? You can free check eligibility through DYgreencard.com without giving any private information. When you are ready, we can help you prepare a complete application reviewed by a skilled immigration lawyer to ensure its approval by USCIS. Learn more, or get started today!

2. Process for applying for green card for parent

The process for applying for green card for parents begins with filling out the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. You should file Form I-130 for each parent. If you are filing only the Form I-130, you can file online through the official website of USCIS. The application fee for a USCIS I-130 form is currently $535. Unfortunately, there is no option for a fee waiver for the green card application for parents.

Generally, Form I-130 can be approved if the USC son or daughter has sufficiently proven the parental link. Once approved, a parent who is in the United States will need to complete a Form I-485 to adjust their status to a green card. Actually, you can concurrently file Form I-130 and I-485 if your parent entered the United States legally. For concurrently filing, it is recommended to file them by mail.

If a mother or father is living abroad, upon approval of the I-130 petition by USCIS, they would pursue consular processing and apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate in the country where they have permanent residence. The physical green card will be mailed to them within 120 days from their entry to the United States with the immigrant visa. 

At DYgreencard.com, you will have a standalone I-130 package or combined I-130&I-485 package ready to file with USCIS. The entire application package will be thoroughly reviewed by an immigration attorney. All you need to do is just answer a few questions and upload documents. Then we take care of the rest. Learn more, or get started today!

3. What evidence needed for application for green card for parents?

The Form I-130 application for green card for parents should be accompanied by copies of documents that establish a parental relationship. Of course, the necessary pieces of evidence will differ depending on whether the parental relationship was formed by birth, by adoption, or by subsequent marriage of a mother or father.

Applying for Green Card for a Birth Parent

If a United States citizen is related to their mom or dad by blood, the I-130 form should be accompanied by a copy of the USC’s birth certificate that lists the parent’s name on it.

If you apply for green card for your biological father, you should also enclose a copy of the marriage certificate or divorce paper of your birth parents to prove you were born in wedlock or you have been legitimated before your 18th birthday.  Otherwise, evidence should be included that shows that the USC had an emotional or financial bond with their father before they reached the age of 21.

Applying for Green Card for a Step Parent

When a U.S. citizen has a step-parent who married their mother or father before the USC turned 18, they can complete a Form I-130 for this step-parent. When doing so, the USC step-child would include their birth certificate, the step-parent’s certificate of marriage, and any legal documents that show that the marriage of their natural parents and the prior marriage of the step-parent (if applicable) ended by divorce, annulment, or death.

Applying for Green Card for an Adoptive Parent

For those who are applying for a green card for parents who adopted them before their 16th birthday, the USC should supply their birth certificate, their adoption certificate, and a written statement that shows the dates and locations where they have lived with their adoptive parent(s), along with the Form I-130.

4. Green card for parents processing time

Green card for parents processing time varies on how foreigners obtain green card. Generally, foreigners can obtain green card through consular processing or adjustment of status. In short, consular processing means they wait for a green card outside the United States while adjustment of status means wait for a green care inside the United States. The processing time for parent’s green card application much depends on which method they take to obtain a green card.  Here we provide a brief compare between the two methods.


Consular Processing

Adjustment of Status

Agency to process

USCIS →NVC →U.S. Consulate →USCIS


Form to start


I-130 & I-485

Total government fee

$1200 ($535+$445+$220)

$1760 ($535+$1140+$85*)

Miscellaneous cost

About $300~$800

About $300~$500

Processing times

12-24 months on average

6-24 months on average

Travel while application is pending

In most situations, parent can travel to U.S. with a valid visa like B1/B2 tourism visa or under visa waiver program.

In most situations, parent can travel internationally with an Advance Parole. However, it usually takes 12-18 months to get an Advance Parole.

Under some circumstances, it is not easy to determine which method to take to apply green card for parents. As such, it is advisable to self-check the feasibility of each method through DYgreencard.com before you take any actions.

DYgreencard — Application preparation + lawyer review, at an affordable price.