Q: I am a US Citizen, and my mom is a citizen of China. She is here on a B-2 visa for a visit and she’s considering extending her stay or applying for a green card. Which is a better choice?
A: Yes, either extending a B-2 visitor visa or applying for permanent residence (a green card) might be possible for your mom. I’ll list some guidelines below to help you start to think about this situation:
Extending a B-2 visa: B-2 tourist visitors may be granted extensions up to 6 months after their status expires. To request an extension, your mom needs to apply before her current visa expires. I recommend she applies after being in the US about 3 months. When she applies, she needs to provide a reason for her request, and provide evidence of the reason if possible. A common reason for extending a B-2 tourist visa is related to health issues. Sometimes a visitor needs to stay longer because of a doctor’s order, or in order to obtain medical treatment.
Additionally, as an applicant for an extension, she needs to show the visit in the US will be temporary, she has an intent to depart and return to China (return tickets are helpful to show this!) and she has sufficient funds to sustain herself during her stay. The application fee is $290. One final consideration is timing. Currently extension requests are taking 4-5 months to process. It is likely that your mom’s current visa would expire before the extension was processed. Speak with an attorney to discuss the strength of her case and risks involved with this process.
Filing for Permanent Residence: The parent of a US Citizen is eligible to apply for a green card. Because parents are considered immediate relatives for immigration purposes, their priority dates are current, which means they can be eligible to adjust status in the US. The main consideration in your case is intent. When a person enters on a visitor visa, she claims to intend to stay temporarily in the US. It is fraudulent to enter on a visitor visa with the intent to remain in the US and adjust status to a permanent resident. In fact, if a person applies to adjust status within 30 days of entering the US on a tourist visa, there is a presumption of fraud. On the other hand, if your mom entered intending to visit, and now, several months later has changed her mind, that could be permissible. Review her situation carefully with an immigration attorney before proceeding, but she may be eligible to remain in the US and apply for a green card.