Immigration Q&A: Filing for parents

Contributions to this segment are made by Attorney Caroly Pedersen, Esq. of the American Immigration Law Center.


Question: My parents brought me to America in 2002 as visitors and then my mom got a job and we ended up staying here for all these years and our visas expired. I’ve been married to my U.S. citizen wife for a few months now and will be getting my green card soon. Once I get my residency, can I sponsor my parents right away for their green cards and work permits? How long will the process take? How long will the process take for them to get their work permits and green card?

Answer: Unfortunately, only U.S. citizens can sponsor their parents for residency. Since you will be obtaining your green card through your U.S. citizen spouse, you will be eligible to apply for early naturalization in two years and nine months from the date you receive your U.S. residency, as long as you and your wife continue to live together as a married couple. Once you file for your naturalization, it takes about four to five months to become a U.S. citizen. After that you can sponsor both of your parents, though you need to apply for each parent separately. From the time of filing the residency packages, your parents should receive their work permits within about 90 days, and their green cards within four to six months.

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