Children under the age of twenty-one who are unmarried and have a United States citizen parent are immediate family members and are immediately eligible to apply for permanent residence, or a green card. applications can be pursued on behalf of these children without a wait time. If the child entered the United States in valid status such as a tourist, even if he or she went out of status, the child will be eligible to adjust status. If however, the child entered the United States unlawfully, the child must obtain residence outside the United States through consular processing. Similarly, a child living outside the United States is outside the United States, can obtain residence through an alien relative petition and consular processing at a US Consulate overseas.
The step children of US citizen are also eligible for permanent residence as an immediate relative if his or her parent married the US citizen prior to the child’s eighteenth birthday. Thus a US citizen who married a foreign national who has a child, not only would the spouse be an immediate relative but also children of the spouse as long as they are under twenty-one and the marriage of the parent to the US citizen occurred before the child reached eighteen years old.
Adoptive children of US citizens may also be eligible as immediate family members. The child must be adopted prior to his or her sixteen birthday and if the child is not an orphan must have also lived with the US citizen parent for two years prior to his or her sixteen birthday. An exception exists for children between sixteen and eighteen if the US citizen is also petitioning for an adoptive sibling under the age of 16. Children who are orphans do not have to live with their adoptive parent prior to being eligible as an immediate family members provided that the adoption took place prior to the child’s sixteenth birthday.