Children of US Citizen

Family Based Immigration – Children of US Citizen


US Citizen’s Application of Green Card for Children

A US citizen can petition for his or her children to obtain permanent resident status (green card).

The Definition of "Children" in Immigration Law

"Child" is defined in 8 U.S.C. section 1101(b)(1) as who is:

• Under 21 years old; and
• Born in wedlock; or
• A step-child, if the step relationship was formed when the child was under 18; or
• Adopted when the child was under 16 years old and already having 2 years legal custody and residence with the adopting parents; or
• A child born out-of-wedlock where relationship is either with the child’s mother, or with the father in which case is a bona fide parent-child relationship; or
• Legally legitimated before 18 years old if the child is in custody of father at the time of legitimation. Legitimation is defined as "the act of putting a child born out-of-wedlock in the same level position as a child born in wedlock." See below for ways to legitimate. 

How to legitimate a child born out-of-wedlock?

A out-of-wedlock born child can be legitimated by the following ways:

• By the laws of country or state where the child or father domicile or reside that eliminate all legal distinctions;
• By subsequent marriage of natural parents;
• By judicial order from a court;
• By formal recognition of paternity;
• By open acknowledgement of paternity.

Benefits of applying for green card as parents of a US Citizen:

• As an immediate relative of a US citizen, the appication is not subject to numerical limit, i.e., there is no waiting time due to visa backlog.
• If a child of a US citizen has overstayed his or her authorized stay in the United States and is now out of status, the child may still adjust status to permanent residence and the overstay is forgiven under 8 CFR 245.1(b).

How do US citizen apply green card for children?

US citizen should file a petiton for his or her children using form I-130 with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the child is in the United States, the child can file adjustment of status with form I-130.

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