They must now apply for U.S. visas, The New York Times reported.
Chen Guangfu told the Times he and his mother, Wang Jinxiang, have not yet decided on the timing of their trip.
He said the final decision will be made after he, his mother and brother review their financial resources.
"I was very surprised to receive the passports today," he said Friday.
Chen Guangcheng, who spent time in prison after being charged with property destruction and blocking traffic, escaped from house arrest last year. He took shelter in the U.S. Embassy and was eventually allowed to leave.
He is living in New York and plans to attend law school at New York University.
In another conciliatory move, Hu Zhicheng, a Chinese-born businessman who had become a U.S. citizen, was allowed to return home from China, five years after his departure was blocked because of a dispute with a business partner.