Pitfalls When Sponsoring a Parent for a Green Card

Are you looking to sponsor a parent for a green card? The process can be trickier than you think.

In addition to all of the possible issues that can come up when sponsoring any relative for a green card (see our blog post “Why you need a lawyer for your marriage-based green card case” dated May 24th, 2018), there are a number of things to watch out for when sponsoring a parent specifically.

1. You must be a U.S. citizen to sponsor a parent for a green card.

A common misconception is that a lawful permanent resident can sponsor a parent for a green card. That is not the case. You must first obtain U.S. citizenship in order to sponsor your parent.

2. A lawful entry to the U.S. is generally required for someone residing in the U.S. to be eligible to obtain a green card.

Commonly a parent of a U.S. citizen entered the U.S. many years ago, without a visa. In this scenario, that parent is not eligible for a green card through sponsorship by a U.S. citizen child, unless they can prove substantial hardship to a qualifying U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative. Because a child is not considered a qualifying relative, this is impossible in many cases.

If this is true for your parent, there may be another way for them to get their green card.

3. If your parent entered the U.S. lawfully as a visitor, but has only been here a short time, their intent at entry will be scrutinized.

Entering the U.S. with a visitor’s visa with the intent to remain permanently can be considered visa fraud. In this internet age, the U.S. government has access to more information than ever about a green card applicant, including social media accounts. It is important to consult an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that there is no indication of a misrepresentation at the time of entry.

4. It is now more difficult than ever for elderly individuals, especially those with health issues or those who do not work, to qualify for a green card.

The government has always assessed whether someone applying for a green card is likely to become what is called a public charge – to become dependent on the U.S. government in the future. For decades, a signed affidavit of support from the sponsoring relative was accepted as proof that an applicant is not likely to become a public charge.

However recently the regulations have changed. The new rule is complex and requires assessment of an individual’s past as well as their present circumstances. A number of different factors are considered, including:

  • Age

  • Education & skills

  • Lack of employability, as demonstrated by current unemployment, poor employment history, or few reasonable prospects for future employment

  • Health, including Lack of private health insurance or the financial resources to pay for a diagnosed medical condition that is likely to require extensive medical treatment or institutionalization and that will interfere with the intending immigrant’s ability to provide for herself, attend school, or work

  • Current or previous receipt by the applicant or any household member of one or more public benefits, including MediCal, Medicaid, and SSI, to name just a few

  • A combination of assets and resources that fall below 125% of the U.S. federal poverty guidelines

We have extensive experience helping U.S. citizens to sponsor their parents
for green cards.

Contact us for a free 15 minute phone call to learn more about the process and how we can help: theteam@huwelaw.com or 415-496-9040.