Questions on immigration answered by South Florida attorney, Caroly Pederdesn
Question: I came to the U.S. with my parents about 15 years ago when my father got hired by an American company on a work visa. The job ended several years later. My parents have been here all this time but don’t have legal status. I ended up marrying my citizen husband several years ago and just received my American citizenship through early naturalization last month. I filled out the immigration form for my parents on the same form and filed it, but when I got the receipt back last week, it only had my mom’s name. I listed my mom and then put my dad as her spouse. I thought that would make sure my dad’s residency was included. I called the immigration 800# and they got me all confused and said that my dad was not included in the case and I had to file a separate form for him and since my parents were not legal they would have to get their residency at the consulate in Jamaica. The form I filed would not get my mom or dad their work permit in the U.S. because I did not file a request for it. Please tell me what I can do from here to get my parents’ residency back on track and what documents I need to bring you. thanks.
Answer: Under immigration regulations, a U.S. Citizen can sponsor not only their family members, but the spouse and minor children of family members as well, including married children and brothers & sisters and their families. However, there is a special category of immigrants called “Immediate Relatives” (Spouses, Parents and Minor Children of U.S. Citizens) which have the benefit of being exempt from quotas (waiting lines). The drawback is that family members sponsored in this category can only immigrate alone and cannot bring “dependents” such as spouse or minor children. This applies to your case. When you sponsor a parent, only the parent named in the petition is sponsored and any spouse your parent has, even your own biological parent is not included. The only way to sponsor the spouse of your parent is to file a separate petition to sponsor that parent. It is true that the form I-130 requests information about your parent’s spouse and children, but not to enable them to immigrate along with your parent. To sponsor your dad, you need to file a separate petition for him as well.
Since your parents came to the U.S. legally on a visa, even though they later fell out of status, they are still eligible to adjust their status to residency inside the U.S. and are not required to process through the U.S. Consulate in Kingston. For residency and work permission for parents, spouses and minor children being sponsored who are inside the U.S., in addition to the I-130 family petition, need to file the I-485 application to adjust status to residency and I-765 request for work authorization in a package together. To file for your parent’s work permit/permanent residency you’ll need several documents, including your birth and U.S. Naturalization certificate, their marriage and birth certificates, passport documentation and required immigration medical exam, along with your financial information for the Affidavit of Support. Once filed, it will take 90 days to receive their work permits and another six months or so for their Green Cards.