Children/Parents/Siblings

CHILDREN

For a foreign national to live and work permanently in the U.S., he or she must become a Lawful Permanent Resident.

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Who is a child?

The U.S. 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

A "son or daughter" is a person who was once a "child" but who is now 21 years of age or older and unmarried. A "married son or daughter" is a person who has a recognized parent-child relationship, but who is also married, regardless of age.

Who is eligible to sponsor?

A U.S. citizen (USC) may petition for:

  • A child (unmarried and under 21 years of 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. In the case of the USC's unmarried, minor child being already admitted or paroled into the U.S., he or she may file the Form I-485, Application to Register for Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the time that the USC parent files the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.
  • An unmarried son or daughter (21 years of age and older). Sons and daughters U.S. Citizens will be eligible for a visa when their priority date is listed on the Department of State's Visa Bulletin.
  • A married son or daughter of any age.

A USC petitioning for an orphan must file a petition to classify an orphan as an immediate relative. The petition is Form I-600, and the form to use for advance processing is Form I-600A.

A lawful permanent resident (LPR) may petition for:

  • A child (unmarried and under 21 years of age)
  • An unmarried son or daughter (21 years of age and older)

A lawful permanent resident may not petition for a married son or daughter.

The unmarried, minor children may be eligible to receive following-to-join benefits, if the LPR had the children before he or she became a permanent resident and did not immigrate as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. This means that LPRs do not have to submit a separate USCIS Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for their children, and the children will not need to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available. Otherwise, children of LPRs will be eligible for a visa when their priority date is listed on the Department of State Visa Bulletin.

What is the immigration process?

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 using the Form I-485.

Exception: If you are a U.S. citizen petitioning for an orphan, you must file a petition to classify an orphan as an immediate relative. The petition is Form I-600, and the form to use for advance processing is Form I-600A.

The Child Citizenship Act (CCA)

On February 27, 2001, The Child Citizenship Act (CCA) became effective. It provides U.S. citizenship to certain foreign-born children (who are less than 18 years of age)--including adopted children--of at least one USC parent (who is a citizen by birth or naturalization, in the least). Under the law, the qualifying children who immigrate to the United States with a U.S. citizen parent automatically acquire U.S. citizenship; children who live abroad acquire citizenship by application.

PARENTS

Eligibility

An U.S. Citizen who is over 21 is eligible to sponsor his or her parents and bring them to the U.S. to live and work permanently.

A lawful permanent resident is not eligible to petition to bring his or her parents to live and work permanently in the United States.

The Immigration Process

A legal immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. There are two-steps in the process for your parent to become a legal immigrant:

  • In the first place, the USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your parent.
  • In the second place, if your parent is outside the United States, your parent will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your parent is legally inside the U.S., he or she can apply to adjust his or her status to that of a lawful permanent resident using the Form I-485.

SIBLINGS

Eligibility

An U.S. Citizen who is over 21 is eligible to sponsor his or her parents and bring them to the U.S. to live and work permanently.

A lawful permanent resident is not eligible to petition to bring his or her parents to live and work permanently in the United States.

Who is a Sibling?

A brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or adopted brother or sister is a sibling. For the necessary sibling relationship to exist, each person must have been a child of at least one of the same parents. The siblings do not need to share the same biological parents as long as both became "children" at the appropriate time (before the age of 16 in cases of adoption, and before the age of 18 for stepchildren).

What is the 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. The process for the brother or sister of an U.S. Citizen to become a legal immigrant has three steps:

  1. The USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition that you file for your brother or sister.
  2. The State Department visa bulletin must show that a sibling immigrant visa is available to your sibling, based on the date that you filed the immigrant visa application.
  3. If your brother or sister is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, your brother or sister will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa. If your sibling is legally inside the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she may apply to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident using the Form I-485.

Please note: There is no need to file separate visa petitions for your brother's or sister's spouse or his/her unmarried children below the age of 21 years. They may accompany or follow- to-join your brother and sister. This includes adopted children.

The wait for an available sibling visa number may take several years. This depends primarily on the relationship and the country involved. The petition for a sibling is a Form I-130, however, depending on your relationship with your sibling you will need to furnish the necessary documents as proof.