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Green Card for Children – Eligibility and Procedure

March 1st, 2011 by Romona Paden

Getting the green card status for children of US citizens or green card holders requires the parents to fulfill certain specific conditions. You have to fulfill certain conditions and eligibility criteria and go through a specific process to get green cards for your children.

Applying for a Children Green Card

You can apply for green card children, only if you meet one out of the three conditions of application mentioned below:

  1. You are a citizen or a permanent lawful resident of US and are applying for green card children to live in the US
  2. You had children, prior to becoming a lawful permanent resident, who had not come along with you physically to US, and would like to come to United States to live with you
  3. You are sponsoring green card children, where the child/children of your child can also be included in the petition.

In order to become eligible to sponsor a child you need to meet certain pre-requisites:

  • You should be a legal permanent resident or a citizen of the US and you should have necessary documents to prove your status.
  • You need to provide evidence that you are capable of supporting your relative financially.
  • Legal proof must be provided to establish that you share a child-parent relationship with the receiver of the sponsorship.

Procedure for Applying for Green Card Children

The initial step in applying for green card children is to file Form I-130 or the “Immigrant Petition” to show that the sponsor and the foreigner child share a legal child-parent relationship. Once this petition is approved, the beneficiary can apply to adjust status if he/she is already in the US or can apply for an immigrant visa at the US consulate abroad.

Filing for Children Already in the US:

When the US citizen sponsor files the I-130, the beneficiary can file the I-485, to adjust status to permanent resident, if he/she is unmarried and below 21 years of age. In case of beneficiaries of US citizens being married and/or over 21 years, they can file for an adjustment of status as soon as a visa becomes available. If the sponsor is a green card holder, then the child can file the I-485 as soon as a visa becomes available. (Visa availability can be tracked through the Visa Bulletin.)

Filing for Children Living Outside the US:

When the I-130 is approved and a visa is available, it will be sent to the American Consulate abroad for Consular Processing. All further proceedings and information will be provided by the respective Consulate.

For immigration purposes, persons should be any one of the following in order to become eligible as green card children:

  1. A biological child born to parents who are linked by matrimony.
  2. A biological child born out of wedlock. In such a case, if the father is applying for green card children, evidence of an authentic relationship between the parent and the child must be attached. If being petitioned by the mother, legitimization is not required.
  3. A stepchild through a marriage that happened before the child reached 18 years of age.
  4. An adopted child, who had been adopted before his/her 16th birthday and has lived physically with the adoptive parents for at least 2 years in their lawful custody. The legal stay and the physical stay need not be the same period, but each should be fulfilled.
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