Green Card application for Parents (Consular Processing)

Recently I went through the process of Green Card application for Parents via Consular Processing in India. To say that the process was easy and without complications would be a complete understatement. It is not that the process is not well defined – but what is not clear (at least that is what i felt even with a wealth of Internet research available) is what happens after one stage is completed – what should we expect, what should my parents expect, what documents does the next stage need etc. Of course, if one had a guiding guardian along the way, then definitely many of the hurdles / roadblocks that we ran into could have been avoided – or at the very least, we could have started work on them in parallel and not wait in sequence for the stage when the documents would be needed. In this Blog Post, I hope that I can be a guiding light for you if ever you go down the path of sponsoring your parents’ Green Card via Consular Processing. Also – keep in mind that many of the experiences mentioned in this post may be unique to my case (though i doubt that very much) – so that is my disclaimer. Read on …

Step 1: Why do I need to sponsor parents’ Green Card?

This is the million dollar question before you start off the processing. For example, what additional benefit to a visitor’s visa are you going to get for your parents if you get them a Green Card. For me this was the compelling reason:

  • I am the only child for my parents – as of now, i am not sure where i would finally settle down – either in USA or in India. But if it is in USA, i want the flexibility of having my parents live with me for however long that they want. In visitor’s visa, as many of you know, you can only live in the USA for 6 months at a stretch

Step 2: Consular Processing versus Adjust of Status processing

There are 2 different ways of going about the Green Card processing for your parents:

  •  Consular Processing -In this method, the applicants (parents) will be in India while the processing is on. Once the application is approved, they will need to head over to the Mumbai consulate for final interview.
  • Adjust of Status – In this method, the applicants (parents) will be in USA while the processing is on. Once the application is approved, they will need to head over to change their status from a Visitor Visa to a Green Card. Honestly, i didn’t feel too confident about this approach though i know many who went down this approach. Since I don’t have much experience regarding this process, I shall not comment on it. Rest of the post covers details about Consular processing.

Step 3: I-130 (Start Date: 01/17/2012)

  • This is the 1st step of Green Card processing where you need to file in details about your parents (one for each parent) and then mail them separately. This stage is processed by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. Typically this stage takes around 4 months to complete. Once this is completed, you will receive a notification about it and also that the next stage will now be handled by the National Visa Center (NVC)

Step 4: I-130 approval and NVC

  • Once the application has reached the NVC, couple of things need to happen:
  1. The National Visa Center will send you the DS-3032 (Change of Address and Agent) form – one for each parent – that will require your parents to authorize you to be their “agent” for the whole process. Please note that this will require your parents signature. So, i faxed the document to my parents – who signed it and then sent it by courier post back to me. After that I mailed it to the NVC.
  2. You will then need to complete and send I-864 (Affadavit of Support) form – one for each parent – this pretty much tells the US Govt. that you will be the sponsor of your parents stay and day-2-day needs here. For this, you will need to send in the regular proof of documents – bank statements, pay stub, mortgage etc. Prior to the processing of this form, you will need to pay the NVC for processing. You can pay this online via Bank Transfer (it is fairly straight-forward)

Step 5: DS-230

Once the I-864 processing is completed, the NVC will send you a notification to indicate the processing for the DS-230 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) form. This is probably the most important stage of the Green Card processing – this requires you to submit quite a few documents to the NVC. Most notable are the following especially since we had a tough time getting them:

  1. ORIGINAL Birth Certificates for parents – This is really difficult to get because the Original Birth Certificate is only issued from the birth place and my parents (and i am sure many of your parents also) had left their village / town ~ 40 years ago. So, in absence of an Original Birth Certificate, you will need to provide a Non Availability of Birth Certificate (NABC) along with an Affadavit from their closest relative indicating that they are indeed who they are and also that their date of birth is accurate. This took us close to 2 months to get. So, I would recommend to start this process ASAP in the whole Green Card process.
  2. Police Clearance Certificate – There are 2 types of Police Clearance Certificates that are issued – one from the Passport Office – for this you will need to schedule an appointment with the Passport Office to get a Police Clearance Certificate. There will be some officials who will come to your home for inspection, have some “chai-paaney” and then will your parents will get the Police Clearance Certificate within 10 days. The second type of Police Certificate is issued by your local Police Station – this took us a bit of time because it had to be approved by the local police department, then their head office and finally by the SP of Police. This also took us close to 3 weeks to get. Again, similar to the Birth Certificates, please start on acquiring these certificates very early in the Green Card process
  3. Your original Marriage Certificate (if married)
  4. 2 * 2 (inches) passport photos for your parents – tell them to get at least 10 copies handy. You will need them right from Step 1 to the interview
  5. Parents Passport – photo copy

Keep in mind that you don’t really have to submit all this documentation at the time of filing the application – the “missing” documents can be brought along for the final interview.

Along with this documentation, you will need to pay the required NVC fees for the processing. After this is processed successfully, you will then notified of the Interview date in a letter – this approval process for DS-230 takes ~4 weeks.

Step 6: Readying for Interview

Your interview date will usually be around a month away from the day you get your letter. For example, we received the Interview letter around the 1st week of October and the interview was on November 1st in the Mumbai Consulate.

Before you go to the interview, you will need to take care of the following:

  •  Medical Test from an approved place – since my parents stayed in Kolkata, my parents got their Medical Tests done from Apollo Gleneagles. Once the tests are done, your parents will receive a sealed envelope which should be taken to Mumbai on November 1st.
  • Parents should carry some proof of relationship with you – my parents took some snaps taken with me, my marriage invitation card, my marriage photos etc.

Step 7: Consular Interview

On the day of the interview, your parents will need to enter the consulate sans a mobile phone – this is important because Mumbai consulate does not allow you to take your mobile phone inside and they do not have any facility where you can hand over the mobile phones. Luckily, my parents’ friends were there to help with this and so, they avoided any last minute panic.

Once inside (usually by 7:30 am), my parents handed over the Interview letter and sealed medical envelope. Also, they were asked for a preferred language for interview and they selected Tamil – which was really convenient. Also, their interview happened at the same time in front of a US officer. The interview lasted for around 15 minutes where the officer asked them about proof of relationship. Also, the officer did not ask for the “missing” original Birth Certificates (even though the NVC folks in US indicated that we needed them).

Step 8: Post Interview – USA Arrival

After 3-4 days, the passport along with the Immigration Visa will be sent to a local pick up center from where your parents can pick up. Along with the passport, your parents will also need to pick up a sealed envelope that needs to be handed over the Immigration Officer are the US Port of Entry. My parents arrived in USA on 11/15/2012 on their immigration visa

Step 9: Green Card Arrival

My parents Green Card arrived at my home around December 15th.

Conclusion:

So, in all, it took my parents around 11 months for the end-2-end process to get the Green Card in hand. Of course, as I mentioned before, a lot of this could have been accelerated had we got a lot of documents in hand prior to starting each subsequent stage. I believe if we had been better prepared, we could have completed this in 8-9 months time. Nevertheless, I am glad that my parents have their Green Card after going through all this.

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68 Responses

  1. *Very* useful summary, thank you.
    What questions were your parents asked during the interview at the Mumbai consulate? Some websites claim the questions include knowledge of US history etc very much like the citizenship interview.

    • Thanks S B – glad that you found it useful.

      Most of the questions that my parents were asked were very basic e.g. where does your son stay, where does he work, which city does he work etc. Nothing to panic about.

      Good luck!

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  3. Hey! This is my first visit to your blog!
    We are a team of volunteers and starting a
    new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable
    information to work on. You have done a wonderful job!

  4. Excellent article. I’m experiencing some of these issues as well..

  5. good job buddy and many congrats to you and your parents…enjoy their presence

  6. Thanks for providing all these details about your parents’ GC processing. We are also thinking of applying for GC for our parents in India this year. Also, if you could provide some information about the kind of health insurance plan you may have bought for your parents, would greatly appreciate that. Both my parents have pre-existing conditions (heart-related, diabetes etc.), and we are hearing that none of the plans cover pre-existing conditions. Would love to hear about what route you followed regarding that.

    • Hi Divya and Sudhir,
      Yes you are correct – however, I am not super knowledgeable about health insurance for visitors. Having said that, I am aware that most Health insurance for Visitors (including ICICI Lombard) do not cover for existing conditions.

      There is a good site called http://www.visitorscoverage.com/ – they might have some option for pre-existing conditions.

      Do update this thread if you found anything – i am sure others will find it useful as well.

      Thanks for visiting my Blog and for your comments.

      Regards,
      Thyaga

      • Hi Thyaga,

        did your parent get any state sponsored insurance? if yes, can you let me know how one applies for it? also, you had mentioned that your parents received their green card 1 month after they landed here.so
        1. did you have to do anything to get the green card once your parents landed here? or they just mail you the card
        2. When they land in US do they get a temporary green card or an A number that can be used to apply for insurance?

        Thanks

        Vikram

  7. Great summary, thanks for sharing your experience

  8. .I have read on Mumbai consulate websites that they need police clearance from the local passport office in case u are 16 yrs or older and have lived in that location for more than 6 months.Peace clarify on this.Also please tell me when can we start the police clearance process. Also I wish to know if I can file I-130 while they are in USA,and then go back to India and complete consular process there?

    • Hi Smita,
      Regarding Local Police Clearance – yes, I did go through the process of getting one (mentioned in Step 5 – Point 2).

      However, i not 100% sure whether this was needed or not. But needless to say, it is good to get it.

      The police clearance certificate is valid for 1 year – so, start the process once you have the i-130 receipt. The police station will ask why you need this certificate – you can provide the receipt as a way to indicate that you need this for your parent’s Green Card.

      Filing I-130 while in USA and then going back for consular processing should be OK – but I would avoid it. There are places where you would need to mention all the visits that your parents have made and so, this could have some ramifications. Avoid if possible – else, do more research before you do that.

  9. Hi
    Thanks for the summary. I have a question In all these steps what communication will the son in USA receive and what commutation will parrents in India receive from NVC and UsCiS ? especially in step 5 what letter will we receive in USA and what will parents receive in India?

    Pl advise

    • Hi Raj,
      Thanks for visiting the Blog and for your comments.

      Both the son (sooner) and parents (after a week or so) will receive a notification in Step 4 to indicate with whom NVC will communicate going forward. I had indicated that all communication from NVC will happen with me (son) – since I was in the USA and was leading the effort.

      Anyway, post that step (i.e. Step 5 onwards) all communication will only be sent to you and then you can fill up the form and ask your parents for required documentation and then submit to NVC.

      Hope this helps.

  10. Great Post. We are also planning to initiate GC processing for our parents and found your blog post really useful. On the whole, do you remember how much did it cost? Also, is there any difference between Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status in terms of time/cost.

    • Hi Alex,
      Glad you found value in the Blog post.

      Overall, I would say it cost ~ $850 / person end-2-end for Green Card processing.

      Best,
      Thyaga

  11. Hi,
    One question -> Can we apply form I130 and I865 ( affidavit of support) at the same time? OR do we need to wait for the file to be transferred to NVC an then submit the “Affidavit of Support” ?

    Raj

    • Did you get a response for this question? Can we send in both I-130 and I-865 at the same time?

      • Hi Raj and Sriram,
        I believe you will need to wait to reach NVC and get a response from them for the next stage – this is where you will file the I865.

        Best,
        Thyaga

  12. Thanks, this is great info. More useful than many websites out there. I wish someone could point me to a similar experience report for “adjustment of status” processing.

    • Hi JR,
      Glad you found value in the Blog post.

      I am sure if you Google for adjustment of status for parents Green Card, you should get a ton of sites.

      Best,
      Thyaga

  13. Very useful writeup, thanks!

  14. Excellent post. Few questions. My parents gor their (your step 8) package recently. I believe the next step is for us to make a $165×2 payment through the USCIS ELIS (per the instruction sheet included outside of the sealed package).

    Q1: Can I create an account on my parents’ behalf and make a credit card payment. I ask because the ELIS site says that it should be done by the beneficiary (not sure how literal/strict that request is).

    Q2: My parents’ visa is till March 30th. Which should mean they can fly into US anytime before that. Besides the sealed package, their passport etc., any suggestion on what should they bring along documentation-wise?

    Q3: Once they have arrived in the US, you indicated that your parents received their Green Card in a month. I have a wedding to attend (on the in-laws side) in the UK in June and would love to take my parents along for a couple fo weeks. I’m safely guessing they will not be allowed to travel outside of US before actually receiving their Green Card. How do I find out what’s the average Green Card processing time? I live in Houston, TX. Does the card automatically arrive at the US address specified on the application, or will we need to do anything?

    Q4: The only action item I know of is to apply for the Social Security Card. Is there anything else? Do I need to wait for the Green Card before I can apply for the Social?

    Q5: I am also concerned about their health coverage (they have high BP and Diabetes, etc. that I am very concerned about). I work for a reputable company. I see spouse coverage section all the time, but I never see one for parents? Did you try to add your parents to AETNA (etc.) through work; or looked into ObamaCare (whatever that has to offer)?

    Sorry for the long questions – but I had to ask someone =)

    • A1: Yes
      A2: Apart from the sealed package, i told them to get some extra photographs, my wedding cards etc – just in case
      A3: Card does automatically arrive in the US address – you don’t need to do anything
      A4: Correct – wait for Green Card to get the Social
      A5: I got Medi-Cal for my parents once they got Green Card

  15. Hey Thyaga,

    Did you get the original documents back from NVC or the Consulate? I would really hate having to get birth certificates again for future needs.

  16. Thank you so much for posting. I am in a similar situation as you are. I am the only child of my parents. I have been trying to gather all documents needed to file their application, however the Registrar is giving us a hard time and will not issue a Birth Certificate Not available letter, We have been waiting for over a year now. is there another document that can replace this. Please help….

    • Hi Bindu,
      Glad you found value in the Blog post.

      Not sure why the registrar is giving you a hard time for issuing a NABC – perhaps you can visit the office in person and ask for it?

      FYI – I did not get a NABC – I just got a letter from the magistrate that my dad is who he is and my mom is who she is.

      Best,
      Thyaga

  17. My parents are not able to get a non availability birth certificate from municipality .they got all other certificate

    • Hi Sree,
      Thanks for checking out the Blog.

      Not sure why you are not getting a NABC – perhaps you can visit the office in person and ask for it?

      FYI – I did not get a NABC – I just got a letter from the magistrate that my dad is who he is and my mom is who she is.

      Best,
      Thyaga

  18. Thanks for writing such a detailed step by step blog post. I am at the tail end of the process of calling my parents here in US on green card. They have got interview date in Nov. I have a question, do we need to fill out form DS-260 before going for interview? The interview letter said that we need to follow all the instructions on our Indian consulate website and that website asks to fill out DS-260 as if applying for visa. Do we need to follow all the steps for geting visa (filling DS-260, submitting visa fees) even when this is green card interview? Thanks in advance.

    Appreciate your time.

    Mamta

    • Hi Mamta,
      Thanks for visiting my Blog – glad that you found the post helpful.

      I don’t think my parents filled any other form prior to the interview – but please do double check with the consulate.

      Thanks,
      Thyaga

  19. Hello, I have a question for you. Would you be able to provide a copy of Non Availability of Birth Certificate that you did for your parents? I will then get one similar done for my father.
    Also, I must say that this is the most useful documents anyone has ever written regarding green card process for parents..
    And I have more question, once your parents are in USA, did you get state sponsored medical insurance for them? and how do you get it?

    Thanks

    Vikram

    • Hi Vikram,
      Thanks for visiting my Blog – glad that you found the post helpful.

      I didn’t get a NABC for my parents – i just had a letter from the local Police Station / Magistrate stating my parents date of birth. That was the best I could do and it worked out fine. You should be able to get samples of NABC on the web. Also, it was in the native mother tongue – in Tamil.

      Once they are in the USA, I got them their Social Security Number and then applied for Medi-Cal – that has proved to be a blessing for them.

      Regards,
      Thyaga

      • Thanks Thyaga,
        How long did it take for you to get SSN for them and then how long for Medi cal after that?
        Do you get any interim insurance in the mean time?

  20. Hi Vikram,
    It took 3-4 weeks to get a SSN – it is the same time it takes for any person applying for a SSN.

    No – I did not take any interim insurance in the mean time.

    – Thyaga

  21. Hi,
    Could you please email me the letter you got from local police/magistrate stating your parents date of birth. I have an affidavit for their birth from family friends they know but don’t have an NABC.

    • Hi Mili,
      Thanks for reaching out.

      Unfortunately, I don’t have a soft copy and i believe the hard copy is probably in India.

      I did not have a NABC – I just got a letter from the magistrate from their place of birth. In the end, the officials in Mumbai did not even look at it – they just asked some basic questions, and then let them go.

      Regards,
      Thyaga

  22. Hi Thyaga! I’ve been reading your blog with interest. Acc to the passport office PCC isued by the regional passport office is valid only for 6 months. However, another view is that it is valid for 1 year. Which one should we take? Thanks

    • I *think* the PCC issued by passport office is valid for 6 months – but the one that is issued by the local police station is valid for a 1 year.

      But, my thumb-rule in all these issues is to be conservative and assume that it is only 6 months and then plan accordingly.

      Best,
      Thyaga

  23. Hi Thyaga, I have filed GC for my dad, his i130 was approved in december. my dad recently received an email from ustraveldocs.com, asking him to complete some information online. Did your parents have to go through this? ( I am not sure if its a legit site )

    • Hi Vikram,
      Thanks for reaching out.

      AFAIK, there was no reason for my parents to fill out anything online – not sure if anything has changed.

      You should check on the INS site to ensure that this is legit step.

      Best,
      Thyaga

  24. My parents have their interview next month. Do they have to take biometrics?

    • Hi Santosh,
      Apologies for the delay in responding. Yes, you will have to take your biometrics result to the center.

      Good luck,
      Thyaga

  25. Highly informative & helpful. In addition to the official fees, many palms need to be greased for the certificates in India.

  26. Mr.Thyaga. You have mentioned “Police Clearance Certificate – There are 2 types of Police Clearance Certificates that are issued – one from the Passport Office – for this you will need to schedule an appointment with the Passport Office to get a Police Clearance Certificate.”.Pl let me know whether both the clearances are required or only one-namely thru Passport Office. Our son(USA Citizen) is applying for us.

    • Hi Subramanian.V,
      We got both the types of Police Clearance Certificates – one from the Passport office and another from the Police department. I think both are needed.

      Good luck,
      Thyaga

  27. Thanks for the very insightful info! I’m planning to apply for my mother’s green card not too long from now and appreciate knowing the steps and required documents ahead of time.

    • Hi Sg,
      I am glad that you found this useful. Good luck in processing your mother’s green card.

      Regards,
      Thyaga

      • Thanks Thyaga! I now have the court certification from the magistrate certifying my mothr’s birthdata (since she does not have an original birth certificate, or non-availability certificate). I also have a certified affidavit from one of her close relatives, confirming her identity and birthdate. Will she need a statement/affidavit from a second relative, or will one relative be enough?

        Best,
        -Sujata

  28. Do you need both types of police clearance certificate? Is it ok just to get the passport office police clearance?
    Thank you

  29. Thank you for your post. My parents don’t have a marriage certificate in addition to not having their birth certificates. Can you advise if this applied to you and if yes, how did you obtain one?

  30. Are you sure your parents qualify for Medi-Cal, looks like you are in the income group of 100K per year. You have signed a affidavit that you will not depend on US government subsidy.

  31. I was pretty pleased to discover this page. I want to to
    thank you for your time due to this wonderful read!!
    I definitely enjoyed every bit of it and i also have you saved as a favorite
    to see new information in your web site.

  32. An informative blog and a practical guide.
    I am making efforts to collect the relevant documents to file for Green card . As regards my experience, I got NABC from my native place
    Quickly as I am still having my hereditary property which helped me to
    Provide the local address as my birth place along with other details required. The Municipality is having a Form 10 under the Registration of birth and deaths Act 1969 which is English. As regards getting NABC for my wife I had to put in some efforts as I could not provide at the initial letter the place of her birth or in which address her parents lived. Please ensure all these details before applying to the Municipality. A personal visit to Municipal office helped me to get it faster as they need to verify the bonafide of the applicant and the need for it.

  33. awesome post!

  34. Great post!
    I have a question: do the parents need to go for biometrics before the interview at the US Embassy?

  35. Did your parents need to fingerprinted? If so, when in your process?

    • We unfortunately found by experience that fingerprinting is required before the immigrant visa interview.
      This important information is not very obvious from the interview letter.

  36. Thyaga, thank you for this very useful article. One step missing in this description is that parents need to schedule a biometrics appointment before the consular interview. This can be scheduled by visiting http://www.ustraveldocs.com (March 2017). I guess this was not required when you wrote this article in 2012.

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