People who are born in the U.S. are citizens, even if their parents are not. If you are a U.S. citizen but your parents are not citizens, you may be able to sponsor them for permanent residency. People who are at least 21 years old can petition for their parents to become permanent residents in the U.S.
There are not exact rules for who will be approved for residency. Each case is different. If your petition is approved though, the process to make your parents residents could happen just as quickly as sponsoring a spouse. Other relatives have a waitlist for residency in the U.S., but there is no waitlist for parents with children who are citizens.
Here is what you need to do to sponsor your parents:
1. Fill out Form I-130. Form I-130 is the petition to grant them permanent residency. The USCIS must approve this before your parents can become residents.
2. Fill out Form I-485. Form I-485 shows that you have the finances to support your family. If you or your parents are likely to need financial help from the government to support yourselves, it may be difficult to get approval for residency.
3. Parents must submit an immigration visa application to a Consular Officer. They only need to do this after you get approval to sponsor them for residency.
Parents do not need to return to their home country while you are waiting for approval. However, if your parents are in the U.S. without authorization, it can be much harder to change their status to permanent resident. It is not impossible but it is very difficult to do this alone.
If your parents are unauthorized to be in the U.S., it is very important to ask an immigration attorney about what to do. It is still possible to protect them from deportation and earn them the benefits of being a resident. An immigration attorney can help you and your parents build happy and safe lives here.