How Can I Help My Parents Become Citizens?

By Published On: September 1, 2022Categories: Vlog, Immigration, Naturalization

”El Show Sin Fronteras”

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Why Is It Important To Be A U.S. Citizen?

By becoming a U.S. citizen, you can help your family members obtain permanent residency. This benefit includes spouses, siblings, and, of course, parents. To establish a relationship between the citizen and the beneficiary or future resident form I-130.

In 2019, just over 1 million people became lawful permanent residents of the United States, and each year, immigrants sponsored by an immediate family member account for more than 40 percent of new residents.

Nationally, an estimated 16.7 million people are estimated to be part of mixed-status families, households with at least one undocumented family member. Of these mixed-status households, approximately 5.9 million are U.S. citizens who are children of undocumented parents.

According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, there is no annual limit for processing applications filed by an immediate family member, this process includes the spouse, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of the U.S. citizen.

If You Are A U.S. Citizen You Can Help Adjust Your Parent's Immigration Status In The U.S.

Can My Citizen Husband Ask My Parents?

No, a U.S. citizen can only petition for immediate family members, such as children, parents, and even stepparents in some cases.

This immigration process does not include the in-laws of citizens, so the spouse must be able to adjust their immigration status to that of a U.S. citizen to petition for their parents.

What Are The Requirements As A Citizen To Petition My Parents?

The child must be 21 years of age to be able to petition their parents. Even if they are of legal age when they turn 18, they are not adults in the eyes of immigration to file a Family Petition.

We have often had clients who have already started the whole process to start their cases with us when their children are 20 years old and will be turning 21 very soon.

They want to have all the documentation in order a few months before the case is sent, and that’s fine, but something very important for people to know, is that we cannot initiate or file the petition with immigration until the child reaches 21 years of age.

What Are The Waiting Times With Parents In And Out Of The U.S.?

This depends on where the parents are and how they last entered the United States.

In the simplest and cleanest case, when the parents are here and the parents’ last entry was with a Visa, we will be able to file both the Family Petition and the adjustment of status to permanent resident at the same time.

This process takes about a year or a year and a half or so.

When parents are outside the U.S. is a different process.

We have to do the Family Petition and the interview at the Consulate. This takes about a year and a half to two years. It depends on the age, the way they entered the last time, and where the parents are currently located.

Is It Necessary To Leave The U.S. To File A Family Petition

This depends on the form of the last entry, but most parents who entered without Visas need a waiver and that is the process we are going through here, do not have to wait in their home country for this or that number of years while the procedure is taking place.

All Non-Visa entrants do need to do the waiver and Consular Process, so they must stay about two weeks or so for Consular Processing outside the United States.

Get Legal Advice About Family Petitions Inside And Outside The United States

Can I Petition My Parents While I Am Undocumented In The U.S.?

It is not a risky process for the U.S. citizen child, the problem comes when the parents are undocumented and there is no other relative who can be the sponsor for the waiver.

The Family Petition does not grant a status, it is an acknowledgment of a family relationship that qualifies for processing with the immigration agency, but all Non-Visa entrants need a waiver.

A citizen child cannot be the sponsor for this waiver, only a spouse or a parent who is a permanent resident or citizen, can be the sponsor.

There are millions of parents with citizen children in this country and they are in limbo, they cannot go ahead with the second step or the second part of the waiver process, because they don’t have other family members who can play the role of sponsor or pardoner.

Can 21-Year-Old Military Son Ask His Stepfather?

Most importantly for stepfamily petitions, the stepfather and mother had to be married before the child turned 18 years of age.

It is known that she is the stepparent because she is married to the U.S. citizen’s mother, but through the eyes of immigration, it is not a legal or valid relationship as stepchild and stepparent, if the stepparent and mother were not married before the citizen child turned 18 years of age.

It is possible to file this petition, but both the petitioner and the beneficiary must qualify and meet the requirements to begin this immigration process.

In the state of Texas, sometimes when a person registers a common-law marriage with the County, we can put a date in the past, for example, the anniversary date, when they began that union.

If the parents already have a marriage license or marriage certificate, it is not possible to change that date. It only applies to couples who have been in a bona fide relationship but have not yet gone to the civil registry to formalize their relationship.

If I’m In Jail And I’m A Citizen, Can I Ask My Parents?

Yes, although it is essential to note that some crimes are detrimental to this type of immigration-related proceedings.

It depends on the charges that the city has, but it is possible if the citizen child is detained and is not working.

We will need a sponsor to be the financial sponsor of the beneficiaries, but in theory, yes, it is possible.

Can I Ask My Undocumented Parents If They Left The U.S.?

This is very common question we receive, and we see it all the time with our clients, of course, it is possible to ask for your undocumented parents even if they are not in the country.

This would be a Family Petition and Consular Process, but other than a legal adoption, nothing breaks the legal relationship between a parent and child.

It doesn’t matter if the parents didn’t grow up with the child or live together, if they don’t know each other well, or don’t have a very close relationship, that doesn’t have much to do with it when we are talking about parents and children.

What Changes Would We Make To The I-130 Form?

For Lincoln-Goldfinch Law it is unfair that because of the immigration agency  they don’t allow U.S. citizen children to sponsor their parents in the waiver.

There are thousands of people in this situation who cannot move forward.

It honestly makes no sense, and we believe it is cruel to the immigrant community.

We have this conversation with our clients weekly because they often turn 21 years old.

These people are very encouraged to start the process for their parents who have sacrificed so much for these citizens who were born here in the United States, and unfortunately, the children can’t do anything about it other than a petition, and that’s definitely what we would change.

Can A Resident Ask Their Mother Or Do They Have To Be A Citizen?

Adjust Your Parents' Immigration Status If You Are A Permanent Resident Or U.S. Citizen

Definitely in this type of situation, the daughter has to process her citizenship before petitioning her mother, because only U.S. citizens can petition their parents.

Another very important thing that we hear very often, is that for example, many people think that because their parents have been away for ten years, they have passed the bar  and now they will be able to return, but that is not enough.

Even if the person has spent the 10 years of the permanent bar, they will still need a waiver  before attempting to return to the United States.

Our recommendation is to obtain citizenship as soon as possible.

Also, we have to make a FOIA so that we can request a copy of the file with all of the mother’s immigration histories and the times she was deported because then, we will know exactly what kind of waiver she needs. After all, she may be needing two.

While the daughter is in the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, we can focus on preparing the waiver for the mother, so that when the daughter obtains her citizenship, she can file the Family Petition.

It is a very complicated process, it is not enough to comply with the permanent bar of 10 years that says that the person must stay out of the country and then return, that is not automatically pardoned.

An affirmative waiver must still be made and approval granted before being allowed to return to the United States cleanly and legally.

What Is Affirmative Waiver About?

All immigration waivers are affirmative and we have to serve them with the immigration agency, but defensively for the client.

The affirmative waiver is with the USCIS agency, it is a form that we fill out, but we must clarify that it is an affirmative process because it is not something automatic, it is not that after ten years have passed, the bar is eliminated, no, you have to submit the waiver.

What Happens If I Am Deported & Enter The U.S.? Illegally?

Entering or attempting to enter the United States after having the ten-year bar, turns out to be the permanent bar.

This is something we can avoid if we consult with an attorney and do the waiver and Family Petition process before the person enters the U.S. with immigration status and a permit.

If they try or cross the border without the waiver, because they think the 10 years of bar have passed and there is nothing wrong with this, they will have a worse bar.

That’s why it pays to consult with Lincoln-Goldfinch Law, and we have many clients who have family members in this situation today.

If you have further questions about the exam, your parent beneficiary, or your specific case, you may contact us at (855) 502-0555. After a brief 10-minute evaluation of your case over the phone, we will let you know what options you have. You can also follow us on our social networks so you don’t miss our weekly broadcasts on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Parents & U.S. Citizenship

No, definitely not. A U.S. citizen can only petition for immediate family members, such as children, parents, and even stepparents in some cases.

By becoming a U.S. citizen, you can help your family members obtain permanent residency. This benefit includes spouses, siblings and, of course, parents. In order to establish a relationship between the citizen and the beneficiary or prospective resident form I-130.

The child must be 21 years of age to be able to petition their parents. Even if they are of legal age when they turn 18 years old, they are not adults in the eyes of immigration to file a Family Petition.

About the Author: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch

I am the managing partner of Lincoln-Goldfinch Law. Upon graduating from the University of Texas for college and law school, I received an Equal Justice Works Fellowship in 2008, completed at American Gateways. My project served the detained families seeking asylum. After my fellowship, I entered private immigration practice. My firm offers family-based immigration, such as greencards and naturalization, deportation defense, and humanitarian cases such as asylum, U Visa, and VAWA. Everyone at Lincoln-Goldfinch Law is bilingual, has a connection to our cause, and has demonstrated a history of activism for immigrants. To us, our work is not just a job. After the pandemic we began offering bankruptcy services in addition to immigration I realized how much lack of information there is in financial literacy resources in Spanish.

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