Green Card for Children
Children of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (green card holders) may be able to receive their own green card. However, the rules of eligibility and procedures for applying are far more complex than most people realize.
Before starting, it is a good idea to review the qualifications and ensure that you will have access to the necessary evidence to support the application. A dedicated immigration attorney at Luis F. Hess, PLLC would be happy to assist throughout the process to ensure you avoid mistakes that could cause an application to be delayed or denied.
Understanding Eligibility for a Green Card
The laws treat offspring differently depending on their age and marital status. Minors under the age of 21 are referred to in the regulations as “children” while adults 21 and older are referred to as “sons and daughters.” Unmarried offspring of any age can apply for a green card, but some will have a longer wait than others depending on their status and that of their parents.
Married children are eligible for a green card only if their parents are citizens. The good news is that their spouses and unmarried minor children also qualify to receive green cards as derivative applicants.
Some Applications Will Be Processed Sooner Than Others
When applying for a green card for children, it is important not only to be aware of eligibility requirements but also to understand preference categories and visa availability. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) grants top priority to family members considered to be “immediate relatives” under their definition. Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens qualify for the immediate relatives (IR) category. Although immigrant visas are issued only in very limited numbers each year, permanent visas for family members in the IR category are not subject to quotas, so these children will not have to wait for a visa to become available.
Children who fit into other preference categories may need to wait for a visa, particularly if they are from a country with high rates of immigration. Here’s the priority list for children applying for a green card:
- Unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens (IR-2 visa)
- Unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens (F1 visa)
- Unmarried minor children of green card holders (F2A visa)
- Unmarried adult children of green card holders (F2B visa)
- Married children of U.S. citizens (F3 visa)
If USCIS expects an applicant to have a long wait for an immigrant visa, the agency may take longer to process the petition that starts the process.
How to Apply for a Green Card for Children
The process begins when the parent files a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with USCIS, along with supporting evidence required by the agency. The agency will review the information and may request additional data, so it is important to respond to requests promptly and to be sure that the agency has accurate contact information for you.
Once the petition is approved, the next steps are determined by the location of the applicant. Children living abroad when a visa becomes available will have their application processed through the State Department Visa Center and then through the U.S. consulate or embassy in the country where they reside. Children already in the U.S. can file a Form I-485 Application to Adjust Status to become permanent residents with a green card.
Either way, the applicant will need to provide required documentation, pay relevant fees, undergo a medical exam, and participate in an interview before a final determination is made about whether to grant an immigrant visa with lawful permanent resident status.
An Immigration Attorney Can Help Prevent Costly Mistakes in the Process of Applying for a Green Card for Children
If there is a gap in records or questionable information about immigration status or other matters, it may be difficult to demonstrate that an applicant qualifies to receive a green card. Mistakes or discrepancies can cause the agencies involved to question the validity of information, leading to delays or denials.
You can avoid many potential problems when you work with an experienced immigration attorney from Luis F. Hess, PLLC. We understand how to efficiently comply with requirements and effectively document eligibility so that you can obtain a green card with fewer delays. Contact us today to learn how we could help.