Applying for a U.S. green card for your parents can be a great way for them to join your family in the U.S. long-term. This can allow them to spend time with family, and can allow the family to take care of them in their later years.

Here are some things to consider, if you're considering applying for a U.S. green card for your parents:

  • You must be a U.S. citizen (and at least 21 years old) to sponsor your parents for permanent residence! If you are not yet a citizen but you're interested, check out our naturalization eligibility tool. If you are not eligible yet, consider if a sibling can sponsor your parents, even if your parents will live with or closer to you.
  • Where are your parents now? This will be a key factor in determining the filing strategy. If your parents are currently in the U.S. and have entered the U.S. with a valid visa (or have otherwise been admitted and inspected), you may be able to file the green card application paperwork while they remain in the U.S. If they are currently outside the U.S., they may need to pursue the I-130 petition and consular processing instead.
    • A qualified immigration lawyer can help you determine the best path for your particular situation.
    • The route you choose will also determine anticipated timelines. Generally speaking, as of right now, it's taking about 6-12 months for green card applications filed in the U.S. for immediate relatives (including adult children filing for parents), and approximately 2+ years for the I-130 and consular processing option. However, note that timelines change seemingly daily, and may be different for your particular case.
  • Do your parents need to travel and when? The option selected will also affect if your parents can travel. For example, if you filed the I-130 petition and I-485 while your parents were in the U.S., they cannot leave the U.S. until they receive the advance parole document (travel document), or green card, with narrow exceptions. On the other hand, if they are pursuing the I-130 and consular processing option, they may (or may not) have challenges entering the U.S. while the green card application is in process.
  • Maintaining permanent residence: Once your parents receive their green cards, they must maintain permanent residence in the U.S. Broadly speaking, that means that they cannot remain outside of the U.S. for significant periods of time. Therefore, if they plan to visit the U.S. for a few months of the year and spend the majority of their time elsewhere, the green card may not be the best strategy for them.
  • Your parents can apply for naturalization, once they have been permanent residents for at least five years (and they meet the other naturalization requirements). Once they become U.S. citizens, they can travel outside the U.S. as much as they would like.

We have helped hundreds of families navigate the U.S. immigration process, and we would love for you to be next!

If you are not yet a Sumner Immigration Law client and you’re looking for an experienced, empathetic, and efficient team to help you navigate the process with confidence, please contact us today and set up your initial consultation to get the process started! You can set an appointment online. You can also call us at 804-396-3412 or send us an email at We are immigration lawyers in Richmond, VA but we serve clients throughout the U.S. and around the world. For more information on our firm visit Who We Are and What Makes Us Different! We look forward to hearing from you!

As always, the above information is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. Please speak with a qualified immigration lawyer before taking action.