The United States offers various opportunities for minor children of U.S. citizens, including biological children, stepchildren, and adopted children, to obtain permanent residency or Green Cards. This comprehensive guide will discuss the eligibility criteria, application process, and essential supporting documents required for securing Green Cards for minor children of U.S. citizens, providing a thorough understanding of the different pathways to permanent residency.
Children under the age of 21, who are unmarried and have a U.S. citizen parent, are considered immediate family members and can apply for a Green Card without a wait time. The process for obtaining permanent residency for a biological child depends on their current location (inside or outside the U.S.) and their method of entry into the country.
If the child entered the United States with a valid visa (e.g., as a tourist), they could apply for an adjustment of status, even if their visa has expired. If the child entered the U.S. unlawfully, they must apply for consular processing at a U.S. consulate overseas.
For children residing outside the United States, they can obtain a Green Card through an alien relative petition (Form I-130) and consular processing at a U.S. consulate in their home country. The U.S. citizen parent must file the I-130 petition, and once it is approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will notify the child when a visa number is available.
Stepchildren of U.S. citizens are eligible for permanent residency as immediate relatives if their parent married the U.S. citizen before the child turned 18. In this case, the U.S. citizen stepparent must file an I-130 petition for each eligible stepchild. The process for obtaining a Green Card for stepchildren is similar to that of biological children, with adjustment of status available for those in the U.S. and consular processing for those outside the country.
It is essential to note that the relationship between the stepchild and the U.S. citizen must be proven through supporting documents such as a marriage certificate of the U.S. citizen and the child’s biological parent. Additionally, evidence of the child’s age, such as a birth certificate or passport, should be provided.
Adopted children of U.S. citizens can be eligible for Green Cards as immediate family members if specific conditions are met. These conditions include being adopted before turning 16 and, if not an orphan, living with the U.S. citizen parent for at least two years before turning 16. An exception exists for children between the ages of 16 and 18 if the U.S. citizen parent is also petitioning for an adoptive sibling under the age of 16.
For orphans, there is no requirement to live with the adoptive parent before becoming eligible for a Green Card, provided the adoption took place before the child’s 16th birthday. To adopt an orphan, the U.S. citizen parent must file Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, or Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, depending on whether the child is from a Hague Convention country or not.
The Hague Adoption Convention is an international agreement that establishes safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions take place in the best interests of the child. If the child is from a Hague Convention country, the adoption process must follow the convention’s guidelines, and the U.S. citizen parent must file Form I-800. If the child is not from a Hague Convention country, the U.S. citizen parent must file Form I-600.
The application process for obtaining a Green Card for minor children of U.S. citizens involves filing the appropriate petitions with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.CIS), submitting various supporting documents, attending a biometrics appointment (if applying for an adjustment of status), and undergoing an interview with a consular officer (if applying for consular processing).
For all categories of eligible children, the U.S. citizen parent must file the appropriate petition (Form I-130 for biological and stepchildren, Form I-600 or I-800 for adopted children) with USCIS. Once the petition is approved and a visa number is available, the child can either apply for an adjustment of status if they are in the U.S. or proceed with consular processing if they are abroad.
If applying for an adjustment of status, the child must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with USCIS. During the application process, the child may be required to attend a biometrics appointment and an interview with a U.S.CIS officer.
For consular processing, the child must complete the online DS-260 application form and submit the required documentation to the NVC. Once the NVC has reviewed the application, they will schedule an interview at the U.S. consulate in the child’s home country. At the interview, a consular officer will determine the child’s eligibility for a Green Card. If approved, the child will receive an immigrant visa and can travel to the United States. Upon arrival, they will be granted permanent residence and will receive their physical Green Card in the mail.
When filing the necessary petitions and applications, the U.S. citizen parent and the child must submit various supporting documents, including:
Additional documentation may be required depending on the specific circumstances of the case, such as evidence of termination of prior marriages for stepchildren or adoption decrees for adopted children.
The pathway to permanent residency for minor children of U.S. citizens, including biological children, stepchildren, and adopted children, requires a comprehensive understanding of eligibility criteria, application processes, and submission of essential supporting documents. By following the proper procedures and obtaining the necessary guidance, these children can secure Green Cards and enjoy the benefits of living, studying, and working in the United States, paving the way for a stable and secure future.
The process can be lengthy and may require the submission of various supporting documents. However, with proper preparation and guidance, it is possible for these children to become permanent residents of the United States, allowing them to live, study, and work in the country while also enjoying the benefits of a stable and secure future.
Our immigration attorneys, based in New York, have a proven track record in guiding numerous families through the complexities of the U.S. immigration system, ultimately reuniting them with their loved ones. We encourage you to reach out to us for assistance and to discuss your unique circumstances.