Green Card For Parents: Benefits Available
Author: Green Card attorney Alena Shautsova
Many United States citizens would like to sponsor their relatives into the United States. The fastest tracks for family members are available for parents and spouses of the United States citizens, as well as children (including step-children) but only if the petitions for children are filed before their 21st birthdays.
So, you have filed for your mother or father, and they are overseas and they would like to know what benefits, if any, they will be able to get in the United States, and how long they have to stay in the United States for them to keep their green cards.
In terms of benefits that parents can qualify for, I have sad news: sponsored parents would not be able to apply for any type of state of federal benefits (food stamps, Medicare, etc.) because as a sponsor, as part of the process you signed I 864 form, and affidavit of support. It means that until your parent becomes a US citizen, you are financially responsible for him/her. Under instructions to form I 864, only emergency medical assistance can be provided without you (the petitioner) having to repay the government for it.
How much time a parent would have to spend in the United States to maintain his/her residency? The answer is at least 6 months per year. Also, if your parent would travel frequently outside the Untied States for exactly 5.5-6.moths and return, he/she will be questioned at the border if he/she really resides in the United States. To avoid losing a green card, a parent would have to apply for a Re-entry permit, a document that is valid for 2 years and allows a green card to return to the United States without issues even if he/she spends outsides of the country longer than a year.
inally, as you are probably aware, to become a US citizen, your parent would also need to learn basic English. He/she would need to be able to pass in English a writing and reading test, as well as history exam. The good news that there are some exceptions to these requirements. Some exceptions come into play when a parent reaches certain age and maintains a green card status for a certain period of time, and some when a parent receives a medical waiver that establishes an exception to the English knowledge requirement. To become a citizen, a parent would have to reside in the United States for half of the 5 year- term, and if he/she leaves the country for longer than a year (sometimes, even longer than 6 months) the 5 year term would have to start again. (The government allows for one year to roll back, so in fact it would be not 5 but 4 years). See details.