We are asked this question frequently, so we hope to give you a little more information by way of this brief blog post.

A U.S. citizen who is 21 years of age (or older) can file a petition for certain family members, including parents. You can read more about these family petitions here. The purpose of the petition is to request United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recognize the relationship between the petitioner (the U.S. citizen child) and the beneficiary (the immigrant parent). Once approved, the petition serves to confirm the relationship; however, it does not grant the immigrant parent any immigration status.

To obtain lawful permanent residence, the immigrant parent has to apply for it, either through an immigrant visa (if he is outside the United States) or through an application submitted to USCIS within the United States.

To apply for permanent residence, the immigrant parent must meet certain requirements, among them, he must be admissible, or eligible, to immigrate to the United States. There are several reasons an immigrant could be ineligible for permanent residence – including criminal convictions, health concerns, and unlawful presence in the United States. In some cases, the immigrant can apply for a waiver.

In these situations, the most common inadmissibility ground is unlawful presence in the United States. Although a waiver exists for this inadmissibility ground, it is necessary to have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residence parent or spouse to qualify for the waiver. Unfortunately, the majority of immigrant parents with this inadmissibility ground do not have a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent residence parent or spouse; if they did, that relative would likely already have filed a petition for the immigrant.

In summary, although a U.S. citizen child can file a petition for his immigrant parent, the parent must qualify for permanent residence and for a waiver, if necessary. Before starting any immigration process, it is advisable to consult with an immigration attorney who can review your case in more detail.

For information on your specific situation, we recommend you use our contact form to schedule an appointment with our office. We would be glad to help you determine the best option for you.

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