How Do I Bring My Child, Son or Daughter to Live in the United States?
Definition of a Child
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
An unmarried “son or daughter” is a person who was once a “child” but who is now 21 years of age or older. A “married son or daughter” is a person who has a recognized parent-child relationship, but who is also married, regardless of age.
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.
- You must obtain USCIS approval of an immigrant visa petition that you file for your child, son or daughter.
- 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.
- 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 using the Form I-485.
What Does the Law Say?
The Immigration and Nationality Act is the 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, 8 CFR § 204.3 , and 8 CFR § 245.
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 ( 21 years of age and older)
- A married son or daughter of any age