How to legalize your undocumented parents?

How to legalize your undocumented parents?

If you are a US citizen at least 21 years old, and your parents are staying in the US illegally, you can legalize their stay in the US under some circumstances.

1.  Your parents entered the US legally, even if they overstayed.  This means that they were lawfully admitted to the U.S. (e.g. tourist visa, student visa, etc.) and inspected by U.S. immigration officers.

Parents of US citizens are regarded as “immediate relatives” and are not subject to numerical limitations.  Even if your parents stayed longer than authorized and/or their visa expired, they can obtain the Green Card by applying for Adjustment of Status in the US with the US Immigration and Citizenship Service (USCIS).  It means that they do not need to leave a country to process their immigrant visas.

It is a very important and positive factor because it allows your parents to avoid unlawful presence and inadmissibility issues. According to the law, if your parent(s) unlawful stay was at least 180 days long, they have become "inadmissible" to the U.S. for three years; and if the unlawful stay was one year long, they have become inadmissible to the U.S. for ten years once they leave the US.  Unlawful presence bars are triggered by the fact of leaving the US, so consular processing of your parents’ immigrant visas abroad would mean years of separations before they could be admitted to the US again as immigrants. However, if your parents entered the US lawfully and were inspected by the US officer, they can take the advantage of adjustment of status application which allows them to process their green cards within the US.

2. Your parents entered the US illegally, without being inspected by the US officer BUT they were beneficiaries of an application submitted on or before April 30, 2001 (a labor certification or an immigrant visa petition (I-130).

Under this narrow exception, parents who entered the US illegally may qualify for adjustment of status from within the U.S. under the Immigration and Nationality Act Section 245(i) as long as they pay a $1,000 penalty. It involves situations when your undocumented parents may have been petitioned by a company they worked for many years ago, or by another family member like a brother or sister who was the US citizen at the time of filing family petition.

How to do it?

You will need to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of your parent(s) with the USCIS.  If you are sponsoring both parents, two separate I-130 petitions will be required. The purpose of Form I-130 is to identify the parties, such as the U.S. citizen petitioner (you) and the immigrant who will benefit from the petition (the beneficiary - your parent).

At the same time, your parent(s) will need to file Form I-485, the actual adjustment of status application (green card application). As a sponsor-petitioner you will need to submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) on behalf of each beneficiary to demonstrate that your parent(s) will not become a public charge by confirming that you are able and willing to support your parents financially at an amount that is at least 125% of the US Poverty Guidelines.

If your parent(s) will be applying for Adjustment of Status under INA 245 (i), they need to submit the original receipt of a petition submitted on behalf of them on or before April 30, 2001, and the evidence that they were physically present in the US on December 21, 2000.

Take advantage of the existing regulations and do not wait with submitting the I-130/I-485 package on behalf of your parents who are eligible to legalize their status in the US and obtain permanent residence.  Please contact our office to obtain more detailed information and personalized advice regarding this complicated but worthwhile process.