Dear Sophie: How can I sponsor my mom and stepdad for green cards?

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Dear Sophie:

I just got my U.S. citizenship! My husband and I want to bring my mom and her husband to the U.S. to help us take care of our preschooler and toddler.

My biological dad passed away several years ago when I was an adult and my mom has since remarried. Can they get green cards?

— Appreciative in Aptos

Dear Appreciative:

Congrats on becoming a citizen! That is a long road, and you did it. :) For all those out there awaiting citizenship, good news: It’s a priority for the Biden administration to speed up processing times. Other good news — the Muslim Ban is cancelled! And USCIS is going to make things a lot better for Dreamers seeking DACA.

We can definitely figure out a plan to support your mom and stepdad to get green cards in the U.S. As your mom married your stepdad after you turned 18, you can’t sponsor him directly. You need to sponsor your mom for a green card first, and then she can sponsor him as her husband. My law partner, Anita Koumriqian, who is an expert in family-based immigration, and I discussed getting green cards for parents and siblings in a recent podcast. Check it out for more details. To set clear expectations, this is a multistep process that will probably take a few years. So you may want to consider hiring a nanny if you need childcare sooner than that! ;)

Alternatively, to speed things up for your stepdad, if he has a daughter, son or sibling who is a U.S. citizen, any of them can sponsor him for a green card. If your mom ends up sponsoring him once she’s a permanent resident, that’s quicker than a U.S. citizen sibling sponsoring a brother, for example, but generally is not as quick as a U.S. citizen child sponsoring a parent.

Since your mom is abroad, she won’t be able to come to the U.S. until the U.S. embassy or consulate in her home country reopens and resumes processing routine visa and green card applications. However, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is currently open.

It’s possible to get started sponsoring your mom for a green card now, and you can work with an attorney to streamline the process. You need to be at least 21 years of age and be a U.S. citizen. As her sponsor, you will also need to accept legal responsibility for financially supporting her.

You will need to initially submit to USCIS documents such as your birth certificate and proof of U.S. citizenship, and make sure that all foreign language documents have certified English translations. Currently, the USCIS California Service Center is taking about seven months to process green card applications for parents.