Bringing Children, Sons and Daughters to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents
The age and marital status of your children are important factors in the immigration process. For immigration purposes, a “child” is defined as being unmarried and under 21, whereas a “son” or “daughter” is defined as being married and/or 21 or over.
A more detailed description of who is considered a "child" in the immigration process is given below. If you or your child, son or daughter currently serves in the U.S. military, see the “Military” section of the website.
Filing for Your Relative Who Lives in the United States
Filing for Your Relative Who Lives Outside the United States
If your child, son, or daughter is outside the United States, you file Form I-130. The petition will be sent for consular processing after it is approved and a visa is available. The U.S. Embassy or consulate will provide notification and processing information.
Conditional Residence and Removing Conditions
If you are petitioning for a step-child and have not been married to the child’s biological parent for 2 years at the time the child receives permanent residence, the child will be granted conditional permanent resident (CPR) status. Form I-751, Petition to Remove the Conditions on Residence is used to remove the conditional basis of permanent residence. (Note that Form I-90, Application to Replace Permanent Resident Card is NOT used for this purpose.)
If your spouse and child became CPRs at the same time or within 6 months, the child can be included in your spouse’s petition. If the child became a permanent resident more than 6 months after your spouse, or the child was granted CPR status independently of your spouse, the child will need to file a separate Form I-751.
Form I-751 must be filed within the 90-day period prior to the expiration date on the conditional resident card. If you fail to file during this time, your spouse and/or your child’s status will be terminated and they may be subject to removal from the United States. For more information, see the “How Do I Customer Guides”.
For immigration purposes, a child can be any of the following:
Check the Status of Your Visa Petition
To check the status of your visa petition, see the “My Case Status” page.
Can my child come to the United States to live while the visa petition Is pending?
If you are a U.S. citizen, once you file Form I-130, your child is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-4 visa. This will entitle him or her to come to the United States to live and work or go to school while the visa petition is pending. To petition for this benefit, you may file Form I-129F. However, you are not required to file Form I-129F and your child does not require a K-4 visa. Your child may wait abroad for immigrant visa processing. Seeking a K-4 visa can be a method for him or her to come to the United States more quickly. For more information, see the “K3-K4 Visa” page.
If you are a permanent resident (green card holder) and you have filed Form I-130 for your child on or before December 21, 2000, your child may be eligible for the V visa classification if more than three years have passed since the I-130 was filed. For more information on V visas, see the “V Nonimmigrant Visas” page.
For more information on “Adjustment of Status” within the United States and “Consular Processing” overseas, see the corresponding link to the right.
My Petition was Denied: Can I Appeal?
If the visa petition you filed is denied, the denial letter will tell you how to appeal and when you must file the appeal. After your appeal form and the required fee are processed, the appeal will be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals. For more information, see the “How Do I Customer Guides".
This section is for beneficiaries who became permanent residents through a preference classification.
If you were married and/or had children who did not obtain permanent residence at the same time you did, they may be eligible for follow-to-join benefits. This means that you do not have to submit a separate Form I-130 for your spouse and/or children. In addition, your spouse and/or children will not have to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available. In this case, you may simply notify a U.S. consulate that you are a permanent resident so that your spouse and/or children can apply for an immigrant visa.
Your spouse and/or children may be eligible for following-to-join benefits if:
If your family member falls into this category and you adjusted to permanent residency in the United States, you may submit the following:
If you are in the United States and have not yet filed to adjust your status to permanent resident, you can file Form I-824 with your Form I-485, in which case no supporting documents are needed other than those submitted with Form I-485.
If you received the immigrant visa overseas, you may contact the National Visa Center (NVC) for follow-to-join information. Send your inquiry by e-mail to NVCInquiry@state.gov or by writing to the National Visa Center, ATTN: WC, 32 Rochester Ave., Portsmouth, NH 03801-2909.
To download the forms and instructions mentioned above, see the corresponding link in the “Forms” section to the right.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/01/2011
Other USCIS Links