How to Get a Green Card For Undocumented Parents

Many undocumented parents of US citizens think that once their child turns 21 then their child can get them a green card without any issues. Immigration attorney, Ifeoma Odunlami discusses this misconception of getting a green card for undocumented parents and options for those who might be facing issues.


Getting a Green Card for Undocumented Parents


Watch the video, Getting a Green Card for Undocumented Parents, or read immigration attorney Ifeoma Odunlami’s discussion overview and learn more below.

United States entry: How to adjust your Visa status

It is really important for your immigration attorney to know how the parents initially entered the United States. The way that parents may have entered the United States, unfortunately, makes it nearly impossible for their children to file for a green card for their parents.

There are two ways to enter the United States;

Enter with a Visa

Enter without a Visa

If you enter with a Visa you can change your status to get a green card without leaving the country. If your Visa is expired you are still able to change your status.

If you enter the United States without a Visa, through the border, or were not inspected by USCIS, you can not adjust your status within the United States. You will have to leave the United States and complete the process in your home country.

Inspected Vs. Admitted

These are two very important terms that you should understand and know the difference.

Inspected: This means that you arrive at customs usually via plane and at the airport. You have spoken to customs and the customs officer allows you to enter the United States.

Admitted or inspection and admission: This is where the customs officer will ask you questions, you will have to show all your documents, including your Visa. If you have all the proper documentation you are then allowed into the United States.

There are two exceptions to inspection and admission.

1. The first is a law that is included in the 245i of the Immigration and Naturalization Act. This law states that if you were present in the United States on December 20th, 2000 and you had a prior petition by either an employer or family member on or before April 30th, 2001 you can adjust your status and get your green card in the United States without having to leave the country.

2. The 2nd exception is called parole. There are two types of parole. The first type is that you are granted a temporary acceptance into the United States. The 2nd type of parole is called advance parole. This allows you to come into the United States and also be able to leave and come back into the United States. Or the customs officer allows you to come into the United States without any formal documentation.

Here are some ways you can get parole;

– Temporary protection status (TSP)

– DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or also called The “DREAMers” Act

– Parole in Place – your child is in the armed forces

If you meet all the above requirements and you currently have a Visa or your Visa is expired you can adjust your status without leaving the United States. If you came to the United States without a Visa but also meet the above requirements you can also adjust your status without leaving the country.

How to adjust your status without a Visa

If you don’t meet the above requirements and you don’t have a Visa or your Visa is expired, you will have to apply for your green card through consular processing. This means you will have to go back to your home country. However, there are a few problems that arise from this. Typically you have overstayed your time in the United States. This is called unlawful presence. Upon arrival to your home country, you will trigger either the three-year ban or ten-year ban depending on how long you unlawfully stayed in the United States.

Learn more: How to Obtain a Marriage Green Card by the Consular Process


To waive your unlawful presence you have to be approved for a provisional Waiver. This means that you can go back to your home country without triggering a three-year or ten-year ban.

Unfortunately, your child can not be a qualifying relative or the reason to file a waiver for forgiveness.

Options for undocumented parents


1. VAWA: VAWA for Violence Against Women Act offers protections and allows victims of domestic violence or spousal abuse to “self-petition” to obtain a green card without the cooperation of the U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative who is abusing them. VAWA applies to women, men, and children.

Your child does not need to know that you are applying for VAWA and they do not need to be involved in the process. VAWA is completely confidential.

Learn more; VAWA for Parents of U.S. Citizens


2. U-Visa: A U-Visa is a visa that you are allowed to apply for to obtain a green card if you have been a victim of a crime. You do have to be willing to assist the police with the crime that took place.

Learn more: Know the Difference Between VAWA and a U Visa


3. Cancellation of Removal: This is for people who are already involved in deportation proceedings. You are asking the judge to cancel those deportation proceedings because your United States spouse, parent, or child would suffer extreme and/or unusual hardship if you were deported.

Please note this is not a complete list of all the options available. If you need help or assistance because your child can not file for you contact Odunlami Law Firm so that we can screen you and figure out the best available option.


If you have any additional questions or would like help with completing your immigration application please contact the Odunlami Law Firm at 973-993-1900 or email us at

We can help you will your immigration needs.

If you need an employment visa, wish to immigrate, or want to help bring a family member to the United States, the Odunlami Law Firm can help. If you are facing deportation or removal for any reason, you need our help. You may contact the law office for more information or to schedule an appointment.

Areas of Immigration Law:

  • Naturalization (Citizenship) Application

  • Immigrant Relative Petitions

  • Fiancé Visa Applications

  • Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

  • Criminal Consequences and Deportation Defense

  • Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Application

  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

  • Green Card Renewals

  • Temporary Work Visas

  • Temporary Protected Status

  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

  • Waivers


Schedule a consultation with an immigration attorney and get your case started today.
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