US Immigration News

How to Petition for an Undocumented Parent

3.35 minute read
"There are approximately 16.7 million people in the United States who are part of mixed-status families. Mixed Status families are households with at least one undocumented family member."
Written by My Visa Source Team
Published on:  Aug 2, 2021
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There are approximately 16.7 million people in the United States who are part of mixed-status families. Mixed Status families are households with at least one undocumented family member. 

Out of these 16.7 million people, an estimated 5.9 million are US citizen children of undocumented parents. Now, it is natural for them to wonder if there is a way for them to help their undocumented parent as a US citizen, and we are here to tell you that there are!

Currently, there are three ways for US citizen children to help their undocumented parents obtain status as legal permanent residents in the US. In any case, the children or child must be at least 21 years of age and a US citizen. 

What Are the 3 Ways for a US Citizen to Help Their Undocumented Parent or Parents?

Option 1 - Adjust Status After Lawful Entry

It is a common misconception that all undocumented immigrants entered the US without inspection. However, the reality is that many of those who are currently undocumented or “out-of-status” initially entered the US with a valid nonimmigrant or immigrant visa. This means that their entry was lawful even if their authorized stay period ended years ago. 

Lawful entry is one of the main requirements to be eligible for a “Green Card” (Permanent Resident Card) in the US. A person must be “inspected, admitted or paroled” to gain permanent residence in the US. If your undocumented parent initially gained lawful entry into the US, then they are eligible to adjust status as an immediate relative of a US citizen even if they are undocumented. 

The US citizen child can petition for the Immediate Relative (IR)-5 Visa so their undocumented parent can adjust their status to a lawful permanent resident. They will be required to meet other requirements to gain a Green Card, including clearing all admissibility requirements. 

To qualify for adjustment of status through this path, the following requirements must be met:

  • The US citizen child must be at least 21 years of age
  • The undocumented parent must be able to prove their lawful entry to the US

Option 2 - Adjust Status Through INA Section 245(i)

This is a fairly obscure way to gain permanent residence in the US. However many undocumented immigrants have used Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to adjust their status in the US. This path requires a US employer to sponsor your undocumented parent on or before April 30, 2021. A US employer will be required to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of your undocumented parent.


The following requirements must be met by your undocumented parent to adjust their through INA Sector 245 (i):

  • Must be a beneficiary on Form I-130 or labor certification filed on or before April 30, 2001
  • Must have been physically present in the US on December 21, 2000, if the above-mentioned petition was filed after January 14, 1998
  • Be admissible on all inadmissibility grounds

Option 3 - Parole in Place for Parents of Armed Forces Service Members

If as a child of an undocumented parent, you are a member of the US Armed Forces, then there is a pathway for your parent to adjust their status. Undocumented parents of US citizens in the US Armed Forces can use the Parole in Place (PIP) method to adjust their status. Meaning, the USCIS will “parole” your parents, fulfilling the requirement for a lawful entry into the US for a Green Card.

The PIP initially provides your undocumented parent protection from deportation and authorization to apply for a work permit. The PIP grants one year of authorized stay to your parents, along with an I-94, Arrival/Departure Record, as evidence of parole. After gaining lawful entry, your parents can adjust their status through the pathway mentioned in Option 1. 

To qualify for the PIP, you and your undocumented parent must meet the following requirements:

  • You must be an active member or a veteran of any branch of the US Armed Forces
  • Your parents must be admissible or be denied entry into the US
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