The Green Card Application for a Child of U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
1. Children as Close Family Members of U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident
As a U.S. citizen, you can submit an immigration application if you have a close family relation, and you can sponsor the following family members:
As a U.S. legal permanent resident, you can submit an immigration application for:
The "immediate relatives" of a U.S. citizen, including parents, spouses, widows, and children who are unmarried and under 21 years of age, can immigrate to the United States without being subject to any visa numerical restrictions. They can apply for the permanent resident status without any waiting time.
rest of the beneficiaries are divided into several groups called
"preferences." Each preference is given a numerical quota per year to
limit the number of immigrants admitted into the United States.
Generally, the higher the preference, the quicker the alien will be
eligible to receive a Green Card. The relatives in preference
categories must wait for a visa to become available according to the
2. Children as Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizen
Unmarried children under 21 year old of U.S. citizens are eligible to apply for permanent resident status as immediate relatives. Immediate relatives may immigrate to the United States on a family based petition. This is the most attractive category, since there is no limitation to the number of immigrants who may qualify under this category and, in most cases, visa numbers are immediately available for these individuals to apply for lawful permanent residence. Immediate relatives include spouses, children and parents of U.S. citizens.
For immediate relative to qualify as a "child" of a U.S. citizen, the person must be the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, and the immigration law defines a “child” as an unmarried person under the age of 21 (a minor) who is:
The Distinction for "First Preference of
Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens" and a Child of an
"Immediate Relative of a U.S. Citizen"
adopted child qualifies as long as the adoption was finalized before
the child's 16th birthday, the adoptive parents have legal custody of
the child for two years (before or after the adoption), and the child
resides with the adoptive parents for two years (before or after the
adoption). A stepchild qualifies as long as the marriage had occurred
before the stepchild's 18th birthday.
4. The Eligibility to Sponsor a Child to Immigrate to the United States
The immigration beneficiaries are strictly defined, and one has to meet the definition of its category at the time that the application of adjustment of status is approved. Those who do not meet the definitions cannot immigrate to the United States through family based immigration.
To be eligible to sponsor a child to immigrate to the United States, a parent must meet the following criteria:
If you are applying for U.S. Green Card (lawful permanent residence) based on marriage to a U.S. citizen or a U.S. permanent resident, your foreign-born child may be eligible to obtain green card along with you. This is true whether or not the foreign-born child is the biological children of your petitioning spouse.
But the foreign-born child would not get Green Card automatically. The child will have to go through the same or a very similar immigration application process as you do. The child will have to prove that he or she is not inadmissible, and that the child will be financially supported along with you.
If your child are unmarried and under age 21, he or she will be placed in the same immigrant category of applicant as you. The result will be that the child can get a visa or green card at the same time as you do.
If your child is married or over age 21, they may or may not be able to get an immigrant visa, and any visa they might get will take years longer than yours to obtain. The eligibility will depend in part on whether your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.
6. Marriage Based Green Card Eligibility - Children born to Unmarried Parents
If the petitioning spouse is a U.S. citizen and the unmarried children under 21 are his or her biological children, or are legal stepchildren because you and your spouse married when they were under age 18, they qualify for green cards as the U.S. petitioner's immediate relatives.
Immediate relatives are given high priority under the immigration laws, with no annual limits to slow their receipt of a green card. But they each need separate visa petitions filed on their behalf, using USCIS Form I-130.
Some of the visa possibilities for children of the immigrant depend on a biological parent-child relationship between the new U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse and the children. Thus, immigration law recognizes certain nonbiological parent-child relationships, and includes them as “children.” For children born to unmarried parents,
1) If the petitioner is the child’s mother, the case is handled just like any other child immigration application case.
2) But if the petitioner is the child’s father, he will have to prove that he was the biological father, and either had a real relationship with the child before the child turned 21, such as living together or financial support, or took legal steps to formally “legitimate” the child before his or her 18th birthday. At the time of legitimation, the child must have been in the legal custody of the father.
7. The Processing Time and Steps during the Family-Based Green Card Application
If you are planning on acting as a green card sponsor for a family member, various factors can stretch the process into months, depending on how long it takes you to gather documents and prepare the appropriate paperwork; who you plan to sponsor; whether there is a limit on immigrant visa numbers given out in that category; and how backlogged the various USCIS offices that you will deal with are at the time.
First, you will need to fill out USCIS Form I-130, and attach your U.S. citizenship or Green Card evidence, as well as proof of your relationship to your family member. USCIS' process for the petition can take several months. Usually later, you will need to prepare an Affidavit of Support on Form I-864, together with documents proving that you are able and willing to support the immigrant at an amount that is at least 125% of the U.S. Poverty Guidelines.
In addition, your family member will need to prepare various documents as his or her own application for a green card. The exact forms and process depend on whether your relative will be adjusting status in the U.S. or going through consular processing from another country. Your relative will also need to undergo a medical exam, and get the doctor's report to submit with the green card application. At every step of the way, you will be dealing with a government agency that is backlogged with other applicants. The typical processing steps you may encounter include:
More Articles about Immigration and Green Card Application for Child • Child Immigration, Visa Number, and Required Documents for Relationship • 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 • Home Page
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