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The Child Immigration Categories, Visa Number,
and Required Documents for Child/Parent Relationship 

1. The Green Card Application for U.S. Citizen's Unmarried Children under 21 Year of Age

Unmarried children under 21 year of age of U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for permanent resident status as immediate relatives. Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any numerical restrictions. This means there is no visa quota allowed under the immediate relative category, unlike other close family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents. 

The immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the application filed for them is approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

If you are a U.S. citizen and your child is under the age 21 who is in U.S. already, then you can file the USCIS Form I-130 and Form I-485 for adjustment of status at the same time, without the Form I-130 approval notice.

2. The Green Card Application for U.S. Citizen's Married Children or Children over 21 Year of Age

1) U.S. Citizen's Unmarried Children over 21 Year of Age, in the First Preference Category: A child of a U.S. citizen, who is seeking U.S. permanent residency and who will turn 21, will be age out and lose the original eligibility as an immediate relative of U.S. citizen. In most cases, if the child turns 21 before the adjustment case is approved, the case moves into First Preference category which can result in a delay in the processing time. 

If a child does not qualify as an immediate relative, he or she may apply under the First Preference - unmarried children over 21 year of age of U.S. citizens (23,400 per year, plus unused visas from the Fourth Preference). Since numerical caps apply to this category, visa petitions are ranked chronologically based on a "first come, first serve basis." Also, because of the numerical cap, there may be long waiting period to obtain a visa.

2) U.S. Citizen's Married Sons or Daughters, in the Third Preference Category: This category is designed for the married children of U.S. citizens regardless of his or her age. That means to qualify as a "child" in this category, the person must be the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, who is married. A “married son or daughter” is a person who has a recognized parent-child relationship, and who is also married, regardless of age.

Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, including their spouses and their minor children, have an immigrant visa number of 23,400 per year, plus unused visas from the First and Second Preferences. Immediate family members of the married alien child can also apply for a Green Card with the child. 

If the child is already in the United States in a nonimmigrant status, the U.S. citizen may only file an immigration petition (I-130) for the alien child. The child has to wait for the immigrant visa number to become current before he or she may apply to adjust to permanent resident (Form I-485). During this waiting period, the child needs to independently maintain a valid nonimmigrant status. 

If the child is outside the United States, the U.S. citizen needs to file an immigration petition and request that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS ) notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the child lives. Once the immigration petition is approved and an immigrant visa is available, the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department sends a forms and information package, "Packet 3", to the U.S. citizen. After the necessary forms are completed, the child goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa. On the day that the child enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes a U.S. permanent resident.

3. The Immigrant Visa Number for Child

An immigrant is a foreign national who has gone through the U.S. immigration process and been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. Your child or children must go through a multi-step immigration process to become an immigrant and obtain a Green Card. First, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must approve an immigrant petition that you filed for your children. Second, the State Department must give your children immigrant visa number, even if your children are already in the United States. Third, if your children are already in the United States, your children may apply to adjust to permanent resident status when a visa number becomes available. If your children are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, your children will be notified to go to the local U.S. Consulate to complete the immigration processing for an immigrant visa.

  • If you are a U.S. Citizen and the immigrant visa petition is approved for your unmarried child under the age of 21, an immigrant visa number will be immediately available to them, no waiting time needed. 

  • If the immigrant visa petition is approved for your unmarried child 21 years of age or older, or for your married child, they must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system.

  • If you are a legal permanent resident (Green Card holder) and the immigrant visa petition is approved for your unmarried child of any age, they must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system.

You will be notified by the USCIS when your I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is approved or denied. If it is approved, your child will be notified when a visa number is available. If your child is outside the country, your child must then go to the local U.S. Consulate for processing. If your child is legally inside the United States when a visa number becomes available, your child should apply to adjust to permanent resident status.

Those that must wait according to the preference system may not get an immigrant visa number immediately after the immigrant visa petition is approved for them, because the immigrant visa numbers that are available each year is limited. 

In some cases, several years could pass between the time USCIS approves the immigrant visa petition and the U.S. State Department provides an immigrant visa number. Because U.S. law also limits the number of immigrant visas available by country, they may have to wait longer if they come from a country with a high demand for U.S. immigrant visas.

4. Required Documents for Child/Parent Relationship

As a parent, the document to prove your child/parent relationship include: 

1) You are the child's mother: Submit a copy of the child's birth certificate showing your name and the name of your child. 

2) You are the child's  father: Submit a copy of the child's birth certificate showing both parents' names and your marriage certificate. 

3) A child born out of wedlock and you are the father: If the child was not legitimated before reaching 18 years old, you must provide copies of evidence that a real parent-child relationship existed between the father and the child before the child reached 21 years. This may include evidence that the father lived with the child, supported him or her, or otherwise showed continuing parental interest in the child's welfare. 

4) Stepparent/stepchild: If your petition is based on a stepparent-stepchild relationship, you must provide a copy of the marriage certificate of the stepparent to the child's natural parent showing that the marriage occurred before the child's 18th birthday, and copies of documents showing that any prior marriages were legally terminated.   

5) Adoptive parent or adopted child: If you and the person you are filing for are related by adoption, you must submit a copy of the adoption decree(s) showing that the adoption took place before the child became 16 years old. If you adopted the sibling of a child you already adopted, you must submit a copy of the adoption decree(s) showing that the adoption of the sibling occured before that child's 18th birthday.  

 


 


More Articles about Immigration and Green Card Application for Child
Green Card Application for a Child of U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
Child Immigration Petition Process and Immigrant Visa Application
The "Age Out" for a Child at Age of 21, and the Child Status Protection Act
The "Following-To-Join" Benefit for Permanent Resident's Child to Get Green Card
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers of Green Card Application for Children
Our Help Desk's Answers for Questions of Green Card Application for Children
Complete Do-It-Yourself Package for U.S. Citizen's or Permanent Resident's Child
The Green Card and Immigration Application for Children
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