In 2010, the Department of Homeland Security - in its Yearbook of Immigration Statistics – show that 116,208 parents of US citizens were granted lawful permanent resident visas, a big jump from 80,403 in 2000.  Parents, minor children below 21 and spouses of U.S. citizens are considered immediate relatives under US immigration definition and are not subject to quota.

 In the same year, of the 58,173 visas issued to immediate relatives of US citizens (including parents) 33,746 are for immediate relatives, 58% of the total.  The incidence of abuse of immigrant parents in the United States prompted the USCIS to include abused or battered parents of U.S. citizens as individuals who can file self-petitions as lawful permanent residents.  As self-petitioners, abused and battered parents need not rely on the sponsoring US citizen son or daughter for processing and financial support.

 On August 30, 2011, the USCIS issued a policy memorandum - binding on all USCIS employees -  explaining that the self-petition process now extends to battered or abused parents of US citizens.  Green card holders are not eligible to sponsor parents.

 The "Policy Memorandum (PM) provides guidance to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers regarding amendments to the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act) that extend the ability to self-petition to battered or abused parents of U.S. citizens. Additionally, this memorandum will provide guidance regarding work authorization for approved VAWA self-petitioners."

 By way of background, the USCIS memorandum states that "Section 816 of VAWA 2005 added a new paragraph (vii) to section 204(a)(1)(A) of the Act. The new paragraph provides certain parents who were subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by their U.S. citizen sons or daughters the ability to file a self-petition.

 Additionally, section 814(b) of VAWA 2005 amends section 204(a)(1) of the Act by adding a new paragraph (K). The new paragraph provides for automatic eligibility for employment authorization upon the approval of a VAWA self-petition."

 For more information, you may call the Immigrant Visa Center at +632-634-8717 or by email – immigrants@visacenter.org

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