Do I Need to Adopt Her First before File the Immigration Petition for Her?
I am a U.S. citizen. Recently, I married my alien husband who has a daughter in his home country. How could I bring the step-daughter into the United States to live with us? As a stepmother now, do I need to adopt her first before file the immigration petition for her?
In the immigration regulation, a stepmother is actually considered a closer relationship than an adoptive mother, and there are less restrictions. However, an adoptive relationship must meet more requirements:
1) the child must be adopted before his or her 16th birthday;
2) the adoptive parent must have had legal custody of the adopted child for two years upon filing the immigration petition; and
3) the adopted child must have resided with the petitioner for at least two years before filing the immigration petition.
There is a rationale for treat stepchildren on a more favorable standard than adopted children on immigration petitions, and it is primarily fraud prevention. Many US citizens, especially naturalized citizens, have relatives with children in foreign countries. They may intend to bring these children to the US.
If there are no strict regulations on immigration petitions based on adoptive relationships, many people may take advantage of the system. Although fraudulent activities also happen in marriage-based immigration, it is harder to cheat the USCIS in a marriage relationship than in an adoptive relationship.
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