Can a Green Card Holder Petition a Parent in California?

by | Feb 22, 2024

The fabric of the United States is woven with stories of families coming together from across the globe. Family reunification remains a cornerstone of U.S. immigration policy, offering various pathways for loved ones to join each other in the country. This blog post delves into a common question among California residents: Can a green card holder petition a parent to join them in the United States?

Understanding the Basics

Before we dive into specifics, let’s clarify a few key terms. A “green card holder” is a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., someone granted authorization to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. To “petition” means to apply for permission for a family member to immigrate. The U.S. immigration system classifies relatives as “immediate relatives” or under “preference categories,” impacting the application process’s speed and requirements.

Eligibility Requirements

The ability to petition family members to immigrate to the U.S. is a privilege that varies significantly between green card holders and U.S. citizens. Immediate family members of U.S. citizens, including parents, spouses, and unmarried children under 21, have priority and are not subject to quota limitations. However, the situation is different for green card holders.

Can Green Card Holders Petition Parents?

Here’s the crucial point: green card holders cannot petition their parents to join them as immediate relatives. This option is exclusively available to U.S. citizens. The distinction lies in the classification of family members under U.S. immigration laws—only U.S. citizens can petition for their parents as immediate relatives, allowing for a more straightforward and quicker immigration process.

Alternatives and Solutions

For green card holders looking to reunite with their parents in the U.S., the first step might be to pursue U.S. citizenship through naturalization. Upon becoming a citizen, you can then petition for your parents to immigrate. The naturalization process involves meeting residency requirements, passing a citizenship test, and fulfilling other criteria set by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Legal Pathways for Parents

In the meantime, there are other visa options that might allow your parents to visit or temporarily stay in the U.S., such as visitor visas or work visas, depending on their circumstances. Each of these pathways comes with its own set of requirements and limitations.

Consider US Citizenship

While green card holders face limitations in petitioning parents directly, becoming a U.S. citizen opens up this possibility. The journey towards family reunification may seem long and fraught with legal complexities, but the outcome—bringing your loved ones to share in your life in the U.S.—is undeniably worth the effort.

North County Immigration is Here to Help!

If you’re a green card holder in California dreaming of reuniting with your parents, we’re here to help. Contact the immigration team at North County Immigration today to explore your options and start the journey toward bringing your family together in the United States.

By Anna M. Hysell

Ms. Hysell is the founding and managing attorney of North County Immigration. After graduating from law school at the University of Wisconsin and getting several years of experience, Ms. Hysell returned to her native Southern California to open an office in North San Diego County to serve clients from the Bay Area to the Mexican Border. She frequently speaks at law conferences, law schools, and workshops providing training to other lawyers. Ms. Hysell is committed to representing individuals with the resolve, compassion, ethics, and values she believes everyone deserves.