Green Card for Parents (IR-5 Visa)

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In the United States, parents of U.S. citizens can apply for lawful permanent resident status, which is also known as a green card.

If you are a U.S. citizen who wishes to bring your parents to the U.S., this article will teach you more about the process of applying for an IR-5 visa – also known as a parent green card.

What is an IR-5 Visa (Parent Green Card)?

An IR-5 visa is a family-based green card that grants lawful permanent resident status to parents of U.S. citizens. 

IR stands for “Immediate Relative”. 

While some visa types have yearly caps and priority dates IR visas do not have these limitations.

This means that applications may be submitted throughout the year and there is no wait time for a green card to become available. 

Parent Green Card Eligibility Requirements

Before you even begin the process of applying for the IR-5 visa, let’s make sure you or your parents will be eligible. 

A U.S. citizen who wants to sponsor his or her parents is called a “Petitioner”. Parents are the “Beneficiaries”.

The following criteria must be met to successfully apply for an IR-5 visa:

  • The sponsor must be a U.S. citizen
  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must be at least 21 years old
  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must be able to prove that they have the financial means to support their beneficiaries (parents)
  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must reside in the U.S.
  • The U.S. citizen sponsor must prove their relationship with their parents by providing a valid birth certificate (for mother), plus parents’ marriage certificate (for father)

How to Apply for a Parent Green Card

First things first, the U.S. citizen sponsor must petition on the parents’ behalf. 

To do this, the sponsor must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

What other forms can or cannot be filed with the Form I-130 depend on whether the parents are located inside the U.S. or outside the U.S.

Parents Inside the U.S. (“Adjustment of Status”)

If the parents are already inside the U.S. through lawful entry, the process of applying for a parent green card is called “Concurrent Adjustment of Status Filing” (AOS)

In this case, your parents will obtain green cards in the U.S. No visa will be issued. 

Lawful entry means that the parents were inspected by an immigration officer, had a valid entry visa and received authorization to stay in the U.S. at an inspection checkpoint. 

Parents who have entered the U.S. by means of lawful entry are often tourist visitors (B-1 and B-2) visas. 

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is a twelve-page USCIS form which consists of nine sections: 

  • Part 1: Relationship (You, the U.S. citizen or the green card holder are the Petitioner. Your relative is the Beneficiary)
  • Part 2:  Information About You (Petitioner)
  • Part 3: Biographic Information (Petitioner)
  • Part 4: Information About Beneficiary (relative seeking the green card)
  • Part 5: Other information
  • Part 6: Petitioner’s Statement, Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature
  • Part 7: Interpreter’s Contact Information, Certification, and Signature
  • Part 8: Contact Information, Declaration, and Signature of the Person Preparing this Affidavit, if Other Than the Petitioner
  • Part 9: Additional Information

In many cases, beneficiaries must wait for Form I-130 approval to begin the application process. 

However, as mentioned before, there is no wait time for IR visas for parents.

Therefore, Forms I-130 and I-485 can be filed together at the same time if the parents are physically present in the U.S. 

Parents Outside the U.S. (“Consular Processing”)

If the beneficiaries are applying for a parent green card abroad, the process is called consular processing. 

In this case, your parents will be issued immigrant visas that allow them to enter the U.S. 

Green cards will be mailed to your parents after they enter the U.S.

The sponsor must first file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Once Form I-130 is approved by USCIS, the National Visa Center (NVC) will process the immigrant application (DS-260).

After NVC sends you an email with further instructions, the following steps must be completed: 

Parent Green Card Fees

The cost of applying for an IR-5 visa or green card for parents depends on whether the beneficiaries are inside the U.S. or outside the U.S.

The cost of applying for a family-based green card inside the U.S. is $1,760.

The cost of applying for a family-based green card outside the U.S. is $1,200.

Government fees are subject to change.

Keep in mind, these expenses do not include required medical examination fees. 

Below, you can find a breakdown of the government fees.

For AOS inside the U.S., the following fees must be paid:

For consular processing outside the U.S., the following fees must be paid:

You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee in order for your green card to be processed. If you fail to pay this fee on time, it could result in significant delays.

Processing Time for Form I-130

The time it takes to process form I-130 is dependent on three main factors:

  1. Whether the relative is currently inside or outside of the U.S.; 
  2. Which USCIS office and/or U.S. Embassy is processing the application;
  3. If the application is filed correctly and all supporting documents are submitted.

It currently takes about 12 to 18 months to process an application for a parent of a U.S. citizen living in the U.S.

For parents living outside of the U.S., it can take 2-3 years to complete the consular processing.

The following table depicts current I-130 processing time based on the application center

Application Center

Processing Time

Nebraska Service Center

5 months to 7 months

Texas Service Center

11 months to 15 months

Potomac Service Center

12 months to 16 months

Vermont Service Center

14.5 months to 18 months

California Service Center

8.5 months to 11 months

Source: Current USCIS processing times of I-130 applications.

Parent Green Card Documents Checklist

To successfully obtain an IR-5 visa for your parents, you must be able to provide the required documents

The following table shows the required documents for completing the green card application through AOS for parents who have already entered the U.S.:

General Document Checklist for Parents Applying From Inside the U.S. (AOS)

Type of document

Examples of documents

Who provides it

Proof of relationship between child sponsor and parent(s)

  • Copy of birth certificate which shows the names of the petitioner and the beneficiaries
  • Copy of parents’ marriage certificate (if Petitioner was born in wedlock)
  • Copy of adoption certificate which shows the names of the petitioner and beneficiaries

Petitioner

Proof of the child sponsor’s U.S. citizenship

One of the following:

  • Copy of Certificate of Naturalization (document granted upon gaining citizenship)
  • U.S. birth certificate
  • Unexpired U.S. passport

Petitioner

Six passport-sized photos

Beneficiary(ies)

Copy of government-issued ID that includes a photograph

  • Driver’s license
  • National ID
  • Other government issued ID

Petitioner and Beneficiary(ies)

Copy of passport

  • Biometric page(s)
  • All entry stamps in passport
  • All U.S. visas in passport

Beneficiary(ies)

I-94 form

  • Can be obtained online here

Beneficiary(ies)

Copy of birth certificate

  • Parents birth certificate(s)

Beneficiary(ies)

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

  • Federal tax returns for the last 3 years 
  • W-2 forms or 1099 forms for the last 3 years

Petitioner

Form I-693, Medical form

Beneficiary(ies)

Legal name change documents (if applicable)

  • Marriage certificate
  • Divorce decree
  • Court order of name change

Petitioner and Beneficiary(ies)

Termination of prior marriage (if applicable)

  • Divorce decree
  • Order of annulment
  • Death certificate

Beneficiary(ies)

Criminal records (if applicable)

  • Copy of certified court dispositions for any charges, arrests, or convictions
  • Copy of police report of any criminal charges, arrests, citations

Beneficiary(ies)

English translation

  • Each document in foreign language must be translated to English

Petitioner and Beneficiary(ies)

If your parents are completing the IR-5 visa application from outside the U.S., the following list shows the required documents for consular processing:

General Document Checklist for Parents Applying From Outside the U.S. (Consular Processing)

Type of document

Examples of documents

Who provides it

Proof of relationship between child sponsor and parent(s)

  • Copy of birth certificate which shows the names of the petitioner and the beneficiaries
  • Copy of parents’ marriage certificate (if Petitioner was born in wedlock)
  • Copy of adoption certificate which shows the names of the petitioner and beneficiaries

Petitioner

Proof of U.S. citizenship

One of the following:

  • Copy of Certificate of Naturalization (document granted upon gaining citizenship)
  • U.S. birth certificate
  • Unexpired U.S. passport

Petitioner

Proof of U.S. domicile

  • U.S. utility bills for the last 12 months
  • U.S. bank statements for the last 12 months
  • Lease agreement for the last 12 months
  • Mortgage statements for the last 12 months
  • Voter ID card that proves voting in local, State or Federal elections

Petitioner

Proof of nationality

  • Copy of passport photo page AND copy of birth certificate

Beneficiary(ies)

Proof of adoption (if adoptive parent(s))

  • Adoption certificate

Beneficiary(ies)

Proof of marriage

  • Marriage certificate

Beneficiary(ies)

Proof of dissolution of prior marriage(s)

  • Divorce decree
  • Death certificate

Beneficiary(ies)

Proof of police clearance 

  • Copy of police clearance letters from:
    • The city and/or country of arrest, if ever arrested
    • Home country if lived there for more than 6 months at anytime in their life
    • Current country of residence (if different from country of nationality) if lived there
    • Any country outside of home country if resident for more than 12 months since the age of 16
    • Court or prison records if convicted of a crime

Beneficiary(ies)

U.S. passport style photograph (electronic format)

Beneficiary(ies)

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

  • Federal tax returns for the last 3 years 
  • W-2 forms or 1099 forms for the last 3 years

Petitioner

English translation

  • Each document in foreign language must be translated to English

Petitioner and Beneficiary(ies)

Keep in mind that if U.S. citizen petitioner is applying for their father and the petitioner was born out of wedlock, the additional evidence will be required (see below):

Father Applying With a Sponsoring Child Born Out of Wedlock 

Type of document

Examples of Acceptable Documents

Parents’ marriage certificate

  • Marriage certificate showing that Petitioner’s mother and father were married while the child was under 18 years of age

Proof that Petitioner was legitimated before reaching 18 years of age

  • Paternity certificate
  • Other legal documentation provided by the sponsoring child’s country or state of birth or the father’s country or state

Proof of father’s emotional or financial bond to sponsoring child before being married or turning 21

  • Evidence that the father lived with the sponsoring child (witness account, photographs, etc.)
  • Evidence that the father has maintained a relationship with the sponsoring child from a distance (phone records, text messages, emails, etc.)
  • Evidence that the father has supported the sponsoring child financially (check, tax returns, etc.)
  • Affidavits from friends and/or neighbors that can attest to the fact that the father has lived with the sponsoring child

Stepparent Checklist

Type of document

Examples of Acceptable Documents

Stepchild’s birth certificate

  • Petitioner’s long-form birth certificate

Proof of marriage between birth parent and stepparent

  • Copy of marriage certificate that proves that the birth parent and stepparent were married prior to the child sponsor turning 18

Proof of divorce, death or annulment for prior marriages

  • Divorce decree
  • Death certificate 
  • Annulment decree

Adoptive Parents Checklist

Type of document

Examples of Acceptable Documents

Proof of adoption

  • Certified copy of their adoption certificate which shows that the sponsoring child was adopted before turning 16

Proof of custody and residence with adoptive parents

  • Evidence that Petitioner was in the legal custody of and resided with the adoptive parents who adopted him or her for at least two years before or after adoption. 
  • Only a court or recognized government entity may grant legal custody
  • If legal custody is granted by a court or recognized government entity prior to the adoption, that time may count toward fulfilling the 2-year legal custody requirement.

Parent Green Card Financial Requirements

Sponsoring U.S. citizen must meet the minimum financial requirements to successfully bring their parents to the U.S. through the IR-5 visa.

The U.S. citizen sponsor must also sign the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support as a commitment to the U.S. government to financially support his or her parents.

Upon signature by the sponsor, the Form I-864, Affidavit of Support becomes a legally binding contract between the sponsor and the U.S. government. 

From this moment on, the sponsor must abide by sponsorship requirements. 

In the U.S. there are set numbers that determine whether a household is above or below the poverty line (“Poverty Guidelines”).

Keep in mind that these guidelines are solely based on the sponsor’s annual income. Poverty Guidelines are updated every year in March-April.

It’s also important to note that if you live in Alaska or Hawaii, the poverty guidelines are different, and the annual income requirements are higher than the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia. 

The tables below depict 2022 poverty guidelines based on petitioner’s household size and location.

For the 48 Contiguous States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands:

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

 

For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child

For all other sponsors

2

$18,310

$22,887

3

$23,030

$28,787

4

$27,750

$34,687

5

$32,470

$40,587

6

$37,190

$46,487

7

$41,910

$52,387

8

$46,630

$58,287

More than 8

Add $4,720 for each additional person

Add $5,900 for each additional person

For Alaska

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

 

For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child

For all other sponsors

2

$22,890

$28,612

3

$28,790

$35,987

4

$34,690

$43,362

5

$40,590

$50,737

6

$46,490

$58,112

7

$52,390

$65,487

8

$58,290

$72,862

More than 8

Add $5,900 for each additional person

Add $7,375 for each additional person

For Hawaii:

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines*

 

For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child

For all other sponsors

2

$21,060

$26,325

3

$26,490

$33,112

4

$31,920

$39,900

5

$37,350

$46,687

6

$42,780

$53,475

7

$48,210

$60,262

8

$53,640

$67,050

More than 8

Add $5,430 for each additional person

Add $6,787 for each additional person

Source: USCIS 2022 Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of Support

You must show that your petitioner earns at least 125% of the U.S. poverty guideline for his or her household size. 

If the sponsor is on active duty in the Armed Forces of the United States, then your petitioner needs to earn at least 100% of the U.S. poverty guideline for your household size. 

Now, you may be wondering how to determine the size of your household. 

The U.S. considers all of the following to be members of a household:

Since you’re applying for a parent green card, the minimum household size would be two for one parent or three for both parents. 

If your household doesn’t meet the minimum financial requirements, there are other ways to obtain a parent green card for the beneficiary(ies). You can: 

  • Provide income earned by any individuals in your household or dependents listed on your most recent Federal income tax return who signed Form I-864A, Contract Between Sponsor and Household Member
  • List the value of your assets (i.e. home(s), vehicles, property, etc.). If necessary, you may also include the assets of other members of your household who signed Form I-864A or the assets of the parent(s)
  • Provide a joint sponsor whose income and/or assets are at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines 

You can learn more about using these additional sources of income here.

Book a Free Consultation With Immigration Attorney

We understand this is a lot of information to take in. Many IR-5 visa applicants work with us for help with navigating the application process. Our services are sure to increase your chances of successfully obtaining a green card for your parents.

You can meet with an immigration attorney via Zoom for free to discuss your case. Book a free consultation at a date and time that is convenient for you.

Related links:

Adjustment of Status

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Form I-130 is Approved, What to Do Next

Form I-485 Processing Time

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support

Form I-765, Employment Authorization Document

Form I-131, Travel Document

Form I-693, Medical Examination