Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens: Child
Immediate relatives are certain types of family members of U.S. citizens who do not have to wait in line for a green card. Instead, the U.S. citizen and sponsor the family member and the relative is immediately eligible for U.S. permanent residence.
For purposes of immigration benefits, a person will qualify as a “child” if he/she is the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, is under 21 years old, and is unmarried. Additionally, a step-child will also qualify for immediate relative immigration benefits if the marriage that created the step-parent/step-child relationship was finalized before the child’s 18th birthday. Moreover, an adopted child will also qualify as long as the U.S. citizen adopted the child before the child’s 16th birthday, the U.S. citizen has had legal custody of the adopted for at least two years, and the child has lived with the U.S. citizen for at least two years. (The two-year legal custody and residence requirements can be met before or after the adoption).
Just like with most other immigration processes, there are two ways that a U.S. citizen’s child can apply for U.S. permanent residence. The first way is called consular processing. Consular processing is a good option for when the child is outside of the United States. It requires the U.S. citizen to file a Form I-130 Petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once USCIS approves the I-130 Petition, the child can then obtain the immigrant visa from the U.S. consulate. The child uses the visa to enter the U.S. and USCIS will mail the child the green card.
The second way is called Adjustment of Status (AOS). AOS is appropriate if the child is currently residing in the United States. To complete this process, the U.S. citizen also files the I-130 Petition with USCIS, but must file the Form I-485 Application with USCIS as well. The I-485 Application is the actual green card application. Once both applications are approved, USCIS will mail the green card to the child.
The I-130 Petition must include evidence of the parent/child relationship which typically consists of the child’s birth certificate that lists the U.S. citizen as the child’s parent. In the case of adopted children, the adoption certificate should be included and for step-children, the marriage certificate should be submitted. USCIS also collects a filing fee from the U.S. citizen to pay for the cost of adjudicating the I-130 Petition.
The I-485 Application also requires supporting evidence, such as passport-style photos and a copy of the child’s passport. Additionally, the application must include proof that the child made a legal entry into the United States. If the child did not make a legal entry, other applications will likely need to be filed in order for the child to become a lawful permanent resident. Moreover, if the child has a criminal record, further applications may also be needed depending on the criminal charge and the age of the child when the crime was committed.
At the Callan Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys are highly experienced in filing successful I-130 Petitions every year. Contact our office today to begin the process of sponsoring your child for immigration benefits!