Children

The immigration law defines a “child” as an unmarried person under the age of 21 (a minor) who is:

– A child born to parents who are married to each other (born in wedlock);
– A stepchild if the marriage creating the step-relationship took place before the child reached the age of 18;
– A child born out of wedlock (the parents were not married at the time the child was born). Note: If the father is filing the petition, proof of a bona fide (real and established) relationship with the father must be supplied;
– An adopted child if the child was adopted before the age of 16 and has lived with the adoptive parent(s) in their legal custody for at least two years;
– An orphan under the age of 16 when an adoptive or prospective adoptive parent files a visa petition on his or her behalf, who has been adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen or is coming to the U.S. for adoption by a U.S. citizen; or
– A child adopted who is under the age of 18 and the natural sibling of an orphan or adopted child under the age of 16, if adopted with or after the sibling. The child must also otherwise fit the definition of orphan or adopted child.

Definition of a Son or Daughter

The immigration law defines a “son or daughter” as a person who was once a “child” but who is now either married or over the age of 21.

Overview of Immigration Process

A legal immigrant (or “lawful permanent resident”) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. There is a three-step process for your child or son or daughter to become a legal immigrant.

1) You must obtain USCIS approval of an immigrant visa petition that you file for your child, son or daughter.

2) The State Department must then give your son or daughter an immigrant visa number, even if he or she is already in the United States. If you are a U.S. citizen and the child is both under 21 years of age and unmarried, a visa number is not required.

3) If your child or son or daughter is outside the United States, he or she will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa when one becomes available. If your child or son or daughter is legally in the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available (or if one is not required), he or she may apply to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident.

What Does the Law Say?

The Immigration and Nationality Act is a law that governs the admission of all immigrants to the United States. For the part of the law concerning immigrant status for children, sons, and daughters, please see INA § 202, INA § 203 and INA § 204. The specific eligibility requirements and procedures for qualifying for immigrant visas and permanent residence are included in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) at 8 CFR § 204.1, 8 CFR § 204.2, and 8 CFR § 204.3.

Who is Eligible to Be a Sponsor?

A U.S. citizen may petition for:

– A child (unmarried and under 21 years of age);
– An unmarried son or daughter (over 21 years of age);
– A married son or daughter of any age;
– A U.S. citizen’s unmarried, minor child is considered an immediate relative, does not need a visa number, and is eligible to receive an immigrant visa immediately. Otherwise, sons and daughters of U.S. citizens will be eligible for a visa when their priority date is listed on the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin .

If your unmarried, minor child was admitted or paroled into the U.S., he or she may file an Application to Register for Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the time you file your Petition for Alien Relative.

If your unmarried, minor child has children, see the petitioning section on beneficiaries.

A lawful permanent resident may petition for:

– A child (unmarried and under 21 years of age);
– An unmarried son or daughter (over 21 years of age);
– A lawful permanent resident may not petition for a married son or daughter.

If you had children before you became a permanent resident and you did not immigrate as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, your unmarried, minor children may be eligible to receive following-to-join benefits. This means that you do not have to submit a separate USCIS Petition for Alien Relative for your children, and your children will not have to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available.

How Can I Check the Status of My Visa Petition?

Click on the menu button to the left, labeled “Check Case Status” and enter your file number.

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