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
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.