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 if a person is married and/or over 21, that person is defined as a “son” or “daughter”.
|If you are a...||You may petition for...|
|Permanent resident (green card holder)|
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.
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (signed with proper fee)
Evidence of your U.S. citizenship:
- A copy of your U.S. birth certificate OR
- A copy of your unexpired U.S. passport OR
- A copy of Consular Report of Birth Abroad OR
- A copy of your naturalization certificate OR
- A copy of your certificate of citizenship
If you are a permanent resident, you must demonstrate your status with:
- A copy (front and back) of Form I-551 (green card) OR
- A copy of your foreign passport bearing a stamp showing temporary evidence of permanent residence.
- If your name or your child’s name has changed, proof of legal name change (may include marriage certificate, divorce decree, adoption decree, court judgment of name change, etc.)
- Proof of relationship (see chart below for case-specific requirements)
|If you are the...||You must also submit...|
|Genetic mother or a non-genetic legal gestational mother|
|Step-parent (step-mother or step-father)|| |
|Adoptive parent (adoptive mother or adoptive father)|
Filing for Your Relative Who Lives in the United States
|If you are a...||Then...|
|U.S. citizen petitioning for your child (unmarried and under 21)||Your child may file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the same time that you file Form I-130|
|U.S. citizen petitioning for your son or daughter (married and/or 21 or over)||You file Form I-130. Your son or daughter files Form I-485 when a visa becomes available. See the “Visa Bulletin” and “Green Card” pages.|
|Permanent resident (green card holder) petitioning for your child, son, or daughter||You file Form I-130. Your child, son, or daughter may file Form I-485 when a visa becomes available. See the “Visa Bulletin” and “Green Card” pages.|
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 genetic parent genetic or legal gestational mother 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 90 days, the child can be included in your spouse’s petition. If the child became a permanent resident more than 90 days after 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 Guides.
Who is Considered to be a "Child" in the Immigration Process?
For immigration purposes, a child can be any of the following:
- A genetic child born in wedlock
A genetic child born out of wedlock:
- If the mother is petitioning, no legitimation is required.
- If the father is petitioning, legitimation is required in accordance with the laws of the father or child’s place of residence.
- If the father is petitioning and the relationship is not legitimated under applicable laws, a bona fide parent-child relationship must be shown to have existed prior to the child’s 21st birthday and while the child was unmarried.
- A child born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to a non-genetic gestational mother who is recognized under the law of the relevant jurisdiction as the child’s legal parent at the time of the child’s birth.
- A step-child, as long as the marriage creating the step-relationship occurred before the child turned 18
- An adopted child if the child was adopted prior to age 16 (one exception is if siblings are adopted, as long as one was under 16, the other could be older than 16 but younger than 18), AND the adopted child has resided in the legal and physical custody of the adoptive parent for 2 years prior to filing (the legal and physical custody do not have to be the same time period, but each must be met for 2 years) NOTE: Most adoption-based immigration occurs through the orphan intercountry or Hague processes. Normally, you would only use the Form I-130 process if your child did not meet the definition of orphan. See the “Adoption” page for more information.
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 lawful 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.
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 may be sent to the Board of Immigration Appeals. For more information, see the How Do I 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:
- The relationship existed at the time you became a permanent resident and still exists, AND
- You received an immigrant visa or adjusted status in a preference category.
If your family member falls into this category and you adjusted to permanent residency in the United States, you may submit the following:
- Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition
- A copy of the original application or petition that you used to apply for immigrant status
- A copy of Form I-797, Notice of Action, for the original application or petition
- A copy of your Form I-551 (green card)
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.