Essential Steps To Sponsor A Green Card For your Parents Navigating the IR-5 Visa

What is an IR-5 visa?

The IR-5 visa is a U.S. immigrant visa category that is specifically designed for parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years of age. This visa category allows U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents for permanent residency in the United States. The “IR” in IR-5 stands for “Immediate Relative.”

Here are the key points to understand about the IR-5 visa:

Eligibility Criteria: To be eligible for an IR-5 visa, the following criteria must be met:

  • The petitioner (U.S. citizen child) must be at least 21 years old.
  • The beneficiary (parent) must have a qualifying parent-child relationship with the U.S. citizen petitioner.

Application Process: The process for obtaining an IR-5 visa typically involves the following steps:

  • File Form I-130: The U.S. citizen petitioner files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish the parent-child relationship and initiate the immigration process for the parent.
  • Form I-130 Approval: If the I-130 petition is approved, USCIS will send a Notice of Approval (Form I-797) to the U.S. citizen petitioner.
  • National Visa Center (NVC) Processing: Once the I-130 petition is approved, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. The U.S. citizen petitioner will need to provide additional documentation and pay required fees.
  • Visa Application: The parent beneficiary will need to complete the online Form DS-260, the Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, through the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) website. This form collects information needed for visa processing.
  • Interview: The parent beneficiary will attend an immigrant visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. They will need to bring required documentation and attend a medical examination.
  • Visa Issuance: If approved, the parent beneficiary will receive an immigrant visa in their passport, which allows them to travel to the U.S.

Green Card Status: Upon entering the U.S. on an IR-5 immigrant visa, the parent beneficiary becomes a lawful permanent resident (green card holder). This status allows them to live and work in the U.S. permanently.

It’s important to note that the IR-5 visa category is specifically for parents of U.S. citizens. Other family-based visa categories exist for other family relationships. As immigration laws and procedures can change, it’s advisable to consult official U.S. government sources or seek assistance from an experienced immigration attorney if you are considering applying for an IR-5 visa for your parent.

I am a US citizen and want to sponsor my parents for permanent residency. My parents reside abroad. What immigration forms do I need to file?

As a U.S. citizen who wants to sponsor your parents for permanent residency (green cards), you will need to file the appropriate immigration forms to initiate the process. Here are the key forms you’ll need to file:

  1. Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative: This is the main form you need to file to establish the qualifying parent-child relationship and start the sponsorship process. You’ll file Form I-130 for each parent separately.
  2. Supporting Documents: You’ll need to include supporting documents with each Form I-130, including:
  • Birth certificates of both you and your parents to establish the parent-child relationship.
  • Your proof of U.S. citizenship (such as a U.S. passport, certificate of naturalization, or certificate of citizenship).
  1. Evidence of the Parent-Child Relationship: Include any additional documentation that supports your claim that you are the child of your parents. This could include copies of your parents’ marriage certificate, your birth certificate showing your parents’ names, etc.
  2. Proof of Termination of Prior Marriages (if applicable): If either of your parents was previously married, you’ll need to provide documentation showing that any prior marriages were legally terminated through divorce, death, or annulment.
  3. Filing Fee: the filing fee for Form I-130 is $535 per parent. However, USCIS fees can change, so it’s important to verify the current fee on the USCIS website when you are ready to file.
  4. Optional Forms (if applicable): Depending on your parents’ circumstances, you might need to file additional forms, such as Form G-325A (Biographic Information) or Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support).

Process Overview:

  • Complete Form I-130 for each parent and gather the required supporting documents.
  • Pay the filing fee(s) and submit the I-130 petition(s) to USCIS.
  • Once USCIS approves the I-130 petition(s), the case will be sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).
  • The NVC will request additional documents and fees, and you’ll need to submit them.
  • Your parents will complete the online Form DS-260, the Immigrant Visa Electronic Application, and go through medical examinations and visa interviews at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
  • If approved, your parents will receive immigrant visas to enter the U.S. as permanent residents.

Keep in mind that immigration laws and procedures can change, so it’s highly recommended to consult the official U.S. government sources or seek advice from an experienced immigration attorney before starting the sponsorship process for your parents.

My parents are currently visiting the U.S. on tourist visas. Can they apply for green cards?

Yes, it is possible for your parents who are currently in the U.S. on tourist visas (B-1/B-2 visas) to apply for green cards (lawful permanent residency) under certain circumstances. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential challenges and considerations when transitioning from a tourist visa to a green card status. Here’s an overview:

Adjustment of Status (AOS) from B-1/B-2 Visas: If your parents are in the U.S. on valid B-1/B-2 tourist visas and meet the eligibility criteria for Adjustment of Status (AOS), they may be able to apply for green cards without leaving the U.S. The AOS process involves filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Here are some points to consider:

  • Eligibility: Your parents need to be eligible for the specific green card category you are sponsoring them under (e.g., family-based, employment-based).
  • Maintaining Non-Immigrant Intent: Transitioning from a tourist visa to a green card may raise questions about their original intent when entering the U.S. Your parents need to demonstrate that their intention to visit the U.S. temporarily was genuine when they entered on a tourist visa.
  • Eligibility Under B-1/B-2 Status: If your parents entered the U.S. with the intention of applying for a green card, they could potentially be deemed to have misrepresented their intentions, which could lead to complications in their AOS application.
  • Overstaying Visa: If your parents have overstayed their authorized period of stay on their B-1/B-2 visas, they might face difficulties in obtaining approval for AOS. It’s crucial to maintain legal status during the entire application process.
  • Work Authorization and Travel: During the AOS process, your parents can apply for work authorization (Form I-765) and travel documents (Form I-131). However, any international travel while the AOS application is pending requires advance parole to re-enter the U.S. without abandoning the application.
  • USCIS Scrutiny: USCIS may scrutinize AOS applications filed by individuals who entered the U.S. on tourist visas more closely to ensure there is no intent to circumvent the proper visa process.

It’s important to note that AOS from a B-1/B-2 visa can be complex and may involve legal nuances. Due to the potential complexities and the risk of immigration violations, it’s highly advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before proceeding with an AOS application for your parents. An attorney can assess your parents’ individual situation, advise on the best course of action, and help navigate potential challenges.