Definition of "child?"

For immigration purposes, USCIS defines any of the following as your child: 

- A genetic child born in wedlock (the parents were married), 
- Genetic child born out of wedlock (the parents were not married), pending legitimization, 
- A child born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART), 
- A stepchild so long as the marriage that created the step-parent-relationship occurred before the child turned 18 years of age, 
- An adopted child.

FAQ

Can your child live in the United States while their Green Card application is pending?

- If you are a U.S. Citizen, once you file the petition, your child is eligible to apply for a nonimmigrant K-4 visa. This will entitle them to come to the United States to live and work or go to school while the visa petition is pending. This is not mandatory, your child may wait abroad in their home country during immigrant visa processing. 

Could the Son or Daughter Already Be a U.S. Citizen?

- Before you prepare a petition, it's worth checking whether the child is already a U.S. citizen, having become so automatically through your citizenship status. Although it's rare, it happens, and can save you a lot of effort and money.

If the Son or Daughter Is Living in the U.S. Unlawfully

- You will need to mitigate your overstay so this would be an additional process. The additional process is called a "waiver of inadmissibility" application. It explains the overstay and asks for it to be excused. This is successful most of the time.

- The waiver must be applied for while you're in the United States. When it's approved by USCIS, you have to leave the US, attend a green card appointment in your country of origin and come back in on that green card.

If USCIS denies the petition

- USCIS will send a denial notice stating why. Your best bet is most likely to start over and refile (rather than attempting an appeal), and fix the reason USCIS gave for denial. But don't just refile it if you don't understand why the first one got denied. Time to get help.

Which is faster? The Child of a US National or Green Card holder?

- You might think that you could speed up your son or daughter's case by becoming a U.S. citizen (in which case they would automatically move to the F1, family first preference category), but adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens often end up waiting longer than sons and daughters of permanent residents.

 

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Timeline 

- Once your "Priority Date" has arrived, you will file your Green Card application, including an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Affidavit of Support and a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency as well as any other optional forms that may apply to your situation. 

- You would then mail this paperwork along with any supporting documents to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Two to three weeks after filing, you should receive both a Receipt Notice and a Biometrics Appointment Notice. Most applications will take 7-15 months from the time they are filed.

- Check your Child Green Card application status?

  - Online
  - Mail
  - eMail
  - In person
  - Over the phone

- If you are applying from within the United States, you can check the status of your visa petition on the USCIS website. 

- If you are applying from outside the United States, you can check your status through the National Visa Center's (NVC) "Consular Electronic Application Center" (CEAC). 

- The U.S. Department of State will also send all official notifications to the mailing address that you provided, so make sure to check regularly. 
 

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Green Card Application

Once this priority date has arrived, you will file your Green Card application. 

- If you are applying from within the U.S., you will file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

- If you are applying from outside the U.S. you will file a Consular Process.

After Petition Approval

- If USCIS approves the application, it will send you a notice and then forward the case to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing. Your son or daughter can expect to later receive communications from the NVC and/or consulate, and when the Priority Date has become current, to attend a visa interview there. 

After Filing the Petition

- Soon after filing the petition, you should get a receipt notice from USCIS. This will tell you to check the USCIS website for information on how long the application is likely to remain in processing. Look for the receipt number in the upper left-hand corner, which you will need in order to check the status of the case. There, you can also sign up for automatic email updates about the case. You can check the status of your case online as well.

- If USCIS needs additional documentation to complete the application, it will send you a letter (called a Request for Evidence or RFE) asking for it.

- How long it takes depends on the "Priority Date" based on your preference category.

Adult Children of US Citizens

As a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder), or U.S. Citizen, you can petition for your foreign-born child who is seeking U.S. resident status to immigrate to the United States and receive their own Green Card. 

The marital status and age of your children tend to be the largest factors for this application process. 

Eligibility
Definition of "child?"
Process
After Filing the Petition
After Petition Approval
Green Card Application
Timeline
FAQ

Process

If your child is already in the United States

- If you are a U.S. citizen petitioning for an immigrant visa for your child who is unmarried and under the age of 21, then your child should file an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, at the same time that you file the Petition.

- If you are a U.S. Citizen petitioning for an immigrant visa for your son or daughter (married and over the age of 21), you should file the petition. The date that USCIS receive this is your "priority  date."

- Your son or daughter will file the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status when their priority date becomes current and an immigrant visa number becomes available.

If you are a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder), petitioner for your child son or daughter, you should begin by filing a petition. 

- Your child, son, or daughter will file the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, when their priority date becomes current and and an immigrant visa number becomes available.

- Once your Priority Date has arrived, you will file your Green Card application, including the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, Affidavit of Support and a Declaration of Self-Sufficiency as well as any other optional forms that may apply to your situation. 

If your child is not already in the U.S.

- If your child, son, or daughter is outside the United States, the first thing you will do is file the petition. The petition will be sent for consular processing after it is approved, and a visa is available. 

Eligibility

Married children or unmarried children, of any age, of U.S. citizens

- If you are a U.S. Citizen, you may petition for any unmarried sons and daughters (Age 21 or older) as well as their children, and married sons and daughters (any age) as well as their spouse and children.

Married or unmarried children, under 21 years of age, of U.S. Permanent residents (Green Card holders)

- If you are a Permanent Resident, also known as a Green Card holder, you may petition for any unmarried sons and daughters over the age of 21, sometimes referred to as an adult child, as well their children. 

As a permanent resident, you cannot petition for any of your married children.