Form I-130 for a Stepchild: Petition for a Stepchild’s Immigration
You can petition for your stepchild’s immigration to the United States using Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative.
However, you’ll need to provide the appropriate documentation and show that your stepchild qualifies to come to the United States.
This guide explains.
Petitioning for a Stepchild’s Immigration With Form I-130
It’s possible to petition the U.S. government to allow your stepchild to come to the United States and obtain a green card. There are some conditions your stepchild has to meet, though, and those depend on whether you – the petitioner – are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident.
It’s important to note that only a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can petition the U.S. government for a stepchild’s immigration. The stepchild cannot petition for themselves.
To petition the U.S. government for a green card on your stepchild’s behalf, you need Form I-130, Petition for an Alien Relative. This petition is necessary even if you adopt your stepchildren; adopting your stepchildren doesn’t automatically confer immigration benefits.
Petitioning for a Stepchild’s Immigration When the Child is Under Age 21
If your stepchildren are under the age of 21 and are not married, the U.S. government considers them to be your immediate relatives. Because they’re your immediate relatives, they can get green cards immediately, without waiting. Your attorney can file a Form I-130 for each of your stepchildren who fall into this category.
Petitioning for a Stepchild’s Immigration When the Child is Over Age 21
Because stepchildren are considered relatives to a U.S. citizen, they can qualify to come to the United States and obtain green cards. However, if they’re over the age of 21, they’re adults – and they don’t count as immediate relatives.
These stepchildren will have to immigrate to the United States under a family preference category, which means they must wait until a visa is available to them. In some cases, it can take years for a family preference visa to become available. That means if you have stepchildren who are over the age of 21, you should start the visa application process as soon as possible.
Petitioning for a Stepchild’s Immigration When the Child is Married
Just like stepchildren who are over the age of 21, married stepchildren are considered adults. As such, they don’t qualify for an immediate visa or green card. Instead, they must wait for a family preference visa to become available.
Using Form I-130 When Your Stepchildren Live in the United States
When your stepkids live in the United States, your attorney will file the Form I-130 directly with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. USCIS retains the application throughout the process, and when USCIS approves the petition, your stepchildren will become lawful permanent residents and receive green cards. You’ll be able to track the petition’s progress, and so will your attorney.
Tip: If your stepchildren are already living in the United States, you may be able to file an adjustment of status for them. However, every situation is different – and it’s best to consult with a Texas immigration attorney to get case-specific legal advice.
Using Form I-130 When Your Stepchildren Reside Outside the United States
If your stepchildren reside outside the United States, your attorney will file Form I-130 with USCIS. However, after USCIS approves the application, the agency will forward the application packet to the U.S. embassy or consulate closest to your stepchildren. This process is known as consular processing, and when it’s approved, your stepkids will be able to come to the U.S. using an immigrant visa. They won’t become lawful permanent residents or get green cards until they arrive in the United States.
The Stepchild Green Card Interview
Your stepchildren may have to participate in a green card interview, though very young children are typically exempt. If a green card interview is necessary, the USCIS official conducting the interview will most likely ask the same questions they’d ask any other immigrant, including questions about admissibility. They may also be asked to answer questions about how old they were when you and their other parent married, as well as other questions relating to family life.
Common Questions About Petitioning for a Stepchild’s Immigration
Check out these common questions about using Form I-130 to petition for a stepchild’s immigration. If you don’t see the answer to your question listed here, please call our office to schedule your free consultation. We’ll be happy to answer your questions so you can get the process started.
How Long Does it Take for a U.S. Citizen to Petition for a Stepchild?
It can take between 6 and 19 months for the U.S. government to approve a petition for a stepchild. However, every situation is different – and your case may be processed faster (or slower) than the average.
If USCIS asks for more information, you should get it to them as soon as possible. Failing to rush documentation to USCIS could delay your case – and if you wait too long to respond, USCIS could reject the petition altogether. Additionally, missing appointments (such as the stepchild green card interview) can delay your case and result in rejection.
Is a Stepchild an Immediate Relative?
Stepchildren are immediate relatives if they are under the age of 21 and are not married. However, after stepchildren turn 21 or after they get married, they are no longer considered immediate relatives for immigration purposes. They can still apply – but they must do so under a different category.
The reason many people want to apply for their stepkids as immediate relatives is that there’s no wait for a green card. However, there is a wait for a green card for non-immediate relatives who apply under family preference categories. Adult stepchildren must wait for a green card to become available to them because the U.S. government only issues a certain number of family preference visas and green cards every year.
Can Green Card Holders File for a Stepchild?
Green card holders (lawful permanent residents of the United States) are allowed to file immigrant petitions for their stepchildren. If you’re a permanent resident who wishes to petition for your stepchildren, you must provide proof of a relationship with your stepchild (as well as proof that demonstrates your immigration status). Your attorney can help you with the process.
Do You Have to Adopt Your Stepchild to File an Adjustment of Status or Immigrant Petition?
You do not have to legally adopt your stepchild to file an adjustment of status or immigrant petition.
What if You Married Your Stepchild’s Parent When the Children Were Grown?
You must have married your stepchild’s parent before the child turned 18 years old in order to file for your stepchild. If you didn’t marry before your stepchild became an adult, the child’s biological parent can petition for them – but only if the child’s biological parent is a lawful permanent resident or U.S. citizen. In a case like this, it may be best to work with an immigration attorney.
Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney About Filing a Form I-130 Petition for a Stepchild’s Immigration?
If you need to talk to a lawyer about petitioning the U.S. government for a green card for your stepchild, we’re here to help. Call our office now to schedule your free consultation with an experienced attorney who can give you the answers you need.