How do I apply for a Green Card for my son? How can my daughter come and live with me in the United States? Can I get permanent Residency for my stepchildren?
Everyday US Residents ask these questions from themselves. The process for obtaining Lawful Permanent Residence ("LPR") status, also known as a Green Card, can be easy in some cases, and complicated in others. Moreover, the process can take many years for some (Children of Parents with Green Cards) and much less time for others (Child of Parents with Citizenship).
LPR status or a Green Card, allows a person to live, work and travel freely in and out of the United States. The process for obtaining a Green Card is different depending on the status of the Parent requesting the Green Card for their child, the physical location of the child, and the age and marital status of the child.
Please note that according to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS), a "Child" is defined as being unmarried and under the age of 21.
I am a US Citizen applying for a Green Card for my Child.
If the Parent applying for the Child (the "Petitioner") is a U.S. Citizen, the the Child is considered an Immediate Relative. This means that the Child will not have to wait for a Visa Number to become available. Upon approval of the Petition for Alien Relative Child, they can immediately request Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing to obtain the Green Card. If the Son or Daughter was over 21, or married, they would have to wait for a Visa to become available to them. Waiting times for various Visa categories are updated monthly by the US State Department on the Visa Bulletin website.
Please note that if the US Citizen Petitioner is applying for his or her spouse (who is also the parent of the Child) separate petitions must be filed for each Immediate Relative Spouse and Child.
I am a Lawful Permanent Resident applying for a Green Card for my Child
If the Petitioner Parent is a Green Card holder themselves, their Child is not processed as an Immediate Relative. This means after the Petition for Alien Relative Child is submitted and approved, they will still need to wait for a Visa Number to become available. This may take months to years at time.
Please note that if Lawful Permanent Resident applies for a Green Card for their Spouse (who is the parent of the Child) their usually is no need to file a separate Petition for the Child, as the Child is granted a Green Card as a Dependent.
Please note that in both of the above-scenarios issues related to the Age-Out or marriage of the Child, or the death of the Petitioner can create problems. It is best to consult an attorney to discuss solutions such as the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA) or transferring Sponsorship.
Also note that in some cases the Child of a US Citizen is automatically granted US Citizenship. For more information please consult an attorney. The laws in this area are complicated and vary depending the year that key events occurred.
What is the first step to getting my Children a Green Card?
It is strongly recommended to consult an attorney first to see what options are available. There are many problems unknown to an applicant that can create serious issues if not dealt with properly.
However, the initial step is to compile the necessary documents and submit a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). The form requires documentation of the relationship of the Petitioner Parent and Child such as birth certificates with the name of both parties, as well as marriage certificates.
The regulations regarding documentations requirements are different based on whether the Petitioner is the Father or the Mother of the Child. Moreover, Children born out of wedlock, step-children, or adopted children may require additional documentations.
What is Adjustment of Status, and how is that different that Consular Processing?
If the child is physically in the United States they may apply for Adjustment of Status and obtain a Green Card without leaving the country. This scenario varies depending on whether the Child entered the United States legally, and/or if the Petitioner is a US Citizen. This process requires the filing of a Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status). It can be filed alongside the Form I-130 in cases where there is a US Citizen Parent petitioning.
If the Child is not located in the United States, they have to wait for the approval of the Form I-130 Petition. After it is approved the Petitioner will be contacted by the National Visa Center ("NVC"). The NVC will request original or certified copies of key documents, along with a completed Form I-864 (Affidavit of Support) to show that the Petitioner can financially support the Child. Once the Petitioner has submitted all the necessary documentation to the satisfaction of the NVC, the file will be sent to the US Embassy or Consulate where the child is a resident.
Both of these steps usually include an interview of the Child, before a Green Card is granted.
What is the Affidavit of Support?
This is a necessary application to show that the person getting the Green Card will not become a cost to US Tax payers. It is a declaration that the Petitioner will be financially supporting the Child.
How do I know if I qualify to be a Sponsor for the Affidavit of Support?
The Chart on Form I-864p will help judge whether the Petitioner earns enough income annually to serve as the Sponsor. To know if the Petitioner is able to act as the Sponsor for this Affidavit, they must add himself/herself, the number of dependents, and the number of potential immigrants they may be supporting. Then they must be able to show that their annual income (based on the most recent tax return) is greater than the dollar amount listed on the chart for a person of their household size. If it is not, the must find a co-sponsor.
Please note that even if a co-sponsor is required, the Petitioner must still submit their own completed Affidavit of Support.
How do I receive my Green Card?
If your Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing interview was a success, and the background check did not create any problems, you will receive your Green Card shortly after completing the necessary request for a Green Card. It will eventually be mailed to you.
Where do I file the necessary forms?
The USCIS website for each form has instructions on where to file depending on the location of the Petitioner and the types of documents, or combinations of documents, being sent. The National Visa Center will also provide the proper mailing address.
What are fees are required for a Family Based Green Card?
In addition to the filing fees for the I-130, I-485 or Consular Processing and I-864, you will likely be required to pay a fee for medical check-ups and printing of the physical Green Card. Citizens of many countries will incur translation expenses as well.
Importantly, a Parent Petitioner and their Child should consult an Immigration attorney before making any decision in this area. Periods of unlawful status, previous immigration court appearances, removal or voluntary departure, or criminal history are issues that can make a case impossible to complete, or require additional forms of relief.
Moreover, there are country-specific issues that exist that require attorney research to prevent problems emerging that can cause delays or potential damage the case.
Applying for your Child's Green Card can be a sensitive and tricky process. Please put the future of your children in the hands of trusted attorneys. Please contact the JQK Immigration Law Firm to discuss your options to bring your son, daughter, or both, to to the United States and eventually become a U.S. Citizen.
JQK Immigration Law Firm lawyers compassionately help their clients from all over the world. They have themselves experienced the Immigration first hand themselves, or with their immediate family members and truly understand the experience firsthand. Call us now.