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Green Card for Child

Green Card for Child

US citizens or permanent residents can sponsor a green card for their child as long as certain eligibility criteria are met. In this article, we will cover the green card for child process, including green card for child under 21 and green card for child over 21 processes. We will also discuss the green card interview questions for child and will explain the various child green card categories. Our family-based immigration team has helped numerous parents sponsor their children for a green card. If you are unsure about how to proceed with your case or seek further guidance regarding your case, please schedule a consultation with our family-based immigration lawyers so that we may guide you and your child through the green card process. 

Both a US citizen and a green card holder can sponsor a child for a green card. However, depending on the sponsor’s citizenship, the child’s age and marital status, the process and wait times can vary considerably. Your child may either be eligible for an immediate relative family-based green card, or for an immigrant visa under the family-based preference system. 

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Green card for child eligibility

If you are asking yourself “Can a green card holder file for a child?” or “Can I as a US citizen sponsor a green card for my child?”, you will first have to refer to the definition of “child” under US immigration law.

US immigration law allows a parent to sponsor a natural born child as well as step-child (as long as the marriage occurred prior to the child’s 18th birthday) and adopted child (as long as the adoption occurred before the child’s 16th birthday). While a green card for child under 21 is the fastest to obtain, a green card for child over 21 may also be sponsored. 

Generally, the main eligibility criteria is proving the parent-child relationship. This can be accomplished through birth certificates, marriage certificates to the child’s biological parent in case of step-children, and adoption documents in case of adopted children. 

Green card for child categories

Children’s green cards fall into several categories which are all explained in detail below. The critical differentiating factor between the categories is the child’s age, marital status, and the sponsoring parents’ US immigration status.  

Green card for child under 21  

If you are a US citizen and sponsoring a green card for an unmarried child under 21 years old, then your child’s immigration case will fall into the immediate relative category. The immediate relative category (green card for child under 21 sponsored by US citizen), holds several benefits to the other family-based immigration categories. First, there is no limit on the number of green cards the US government can issue to immediate relatives. This means that besides the normal processing times, there are no additional delays and backlogs for immediate relative green card petitions. Second, when filing an adjustment of status application based on an immediate relative petition, certain grounds of inadmissibility, including immigration violations such as overstaying the length of a visa or working without authorization, will not prevent a green card for an immediate relative child to be issued. As such, the green card for child under 21 sponsored by a US citizen is the most advantageous of the green card for child categories.    

It is important to note that biological children, step-children, and adopted children can all be classified as immediate relatives. 

Green card for unmarried child over 21

If you are a US citizen, you can sponsor a green card for unmarried child over 21 years of age. Green cards for unmarried children over 21 fall into the F1 family-based first preference category. Green cards in the F1 preference category are available to unmarried children over the age of 21 of US citizens. 23,400 green cards are available each year in the F1 category. Due to the large quantity of F1 category green card applications each year, the typical wait time for a F1 green card is approximately 8 years. However, if your child is a citizen of the Philippines or Mexico, this wait time can exceed over 10 years. You can review the green card backlogs on the Visa Bulletin [https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin/2022/visa-bulletin-for-november-2021.html] which is published each month. 

Although the wait times for green card for unmarried child over 21 are long, depending on the other immigration options available to your child, the F1 visa category could be a good option for your child to move to the United States.

Green card for child over 21 and married child

If you are a US citizen, you can sponsor a green card for child over 21, even if your child is married. Sponsoring a green card for a married child over 21 occurs in the F3 family-based third preference category. The green cards available in the F3 category are for the married children of US citizens. 23,400 green cards are issued annually, with an approval wait time of approximately 13 years. If your child is a citizen of the Philippines or Mexico, this wait time can exceed 20 years. Although the wait times for green cards for married children are extensive, the F3 category is often a viable option for foreign nationals who are in the United States in another immigration status or who are not in a rush to move to the United States. 

Green card holder filing for child

A green card holder can file for child green card, if the child is unmarried. Such cases fall into the F2 second preference category which is reserved for the family of green card holders. If you are wondering, “can a green card holder file for child?” the answer is Yes!  If you are a green card holder filing for a child under 21, then your immigration case will fall into the F2A visa category. The F2A visa category is reserved for spouses and unmarried children under 21 of green card holders. 77% of the second preference green cards are issued in the F2A subcategory. In recent years, the wait times for F2A green cards have ranged from 2 years to no wait time.  

If you are a green card holder filing for child over 21, your child must be unmarried to be eligible for a green card. A green card holder cannot sponsor a married child for a green card. Cases in which a green card holder is filing for child over 21 are classified in the F2B green card category. The F2B category is reserved for  unmarried children over 21 of green card holders. If you are a green card holder whose child is married, your child lost eligibility to apply for a green card. Wait times for F2B category green card cases are approximately 6 years, unless your child is a citizen of Mexico or the Philippines in which case processing times can exceed 10 years. 

If you are a green card holder who wishes to apply for a green card for a married child, all hope is not lost. Once you are a green card holder for 5 years, you may apply for naturalization. As a naturalized US citizen you can sponsor your married child for a green card under the F3 green card category. 

Green card for child process

If you are wondering, “how to apply for a green card for my child?” the next section will guide you through the green card for child process. Three major factors will determine the path you take to obtain a green card for your child:

  1. Your immigration status – if you are a US citizen, your child might be eligible for an immediate relative green card, but if you are a green card holder, you will have to apply for a green card for your child through the F2 family-based 2nd preference category.
  2. Your child’s age – whether your child is over or under 21 will determine the green card category in which your child’s case falls.
  3. Your child’s marital status – if you are a green card holder and your child is married, you will not be able to sponsor your child for a green card. If you are a US citizen, you can sponsor your child in the F3 family-based third preference green card category.

Based on these factors, you will either apply for an immediate relative green card for your child, or for a green card for your child under the family-based green card preference system.

Green card for child step-by-step process

Below we highlight the key steps in the green card for child process: 

Step 1: The US citizen parent files Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative together with all relevant evidence with USCIS. 

Step 2: The foreign national child waits for a green card to become available. This is not an issue for cases filed under the immediate relative category. For all other preference system category cases, you should visit the Visa Bulletin to determine when your child will be eligible to apply for a green card based on your sponsorship.  

Step 3: The foreign national child applies for a green card. Once your child’s priority date becomes current on the Visa Bulletin, your child may apply for a green card. If your child is located in the United States, your child may apply for the adjustment of status process by filing Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status. If your child is located outside the United States, your child may apply for an immigrant visa by filing Form DS-260 with the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will transfer the case to the US embassy or consulate which will adjudicate your child’s green card application. 

Step 4: The foreign national child attends an immigration visa interview. If your child applied for a green card by applying for adjustment of status with USCIS, then the interview may be waived. USCIS often waives interviews for green card for child applications. If your child is applying for an immigrant visa at a US consulate or embassy, then your child will have to attend a visa interview at a US embassy or consulate. During the interview, the officer will go through your child’s application and will make sure that your child qualifies for a child green card. If the application is approved, your child will be granted an immigrant visa. Your child may use this visa to travel to and enter the United States. If you are wondering what the green card interview questions for child are, please see our FAQ below.

Step 5: After the application is approved, the government will mail your child a green card. If your child enters the United States using an immigrant visa, a green card wiill be mailed to the US mailing address provided in the immigrant visa application. 

Green card for child FAQ

Can I get a green card for my child born in the USA?

You do not need a green card for a child born in the USA. If the child was born in the United States, he or she is a natural born US citizen. Your child was granted US citizenship by virtue of birth in the United States.

Can I get a green card for my child born outside the US?

Yes, you can obtain a green card for a child born outside of the United States. Depending on your child’s age and marital status, as well as on whether you are a citizen or a green card holder, you can apply for a green card for your child through the immediate relative category, or you can apply for a green card for your child under the family-based preference system.

Can I get a green card for my child over 21?

As a United States citizen, you can get a green card for your child over 21 regardless of your child’s marital status.

If you are a permanent resident, also known as a green card holder, you can get a green card for your child over 21 as long as he or she remains unmarried.

Can I get a green card for child under 21?

Yes, as a United States citizen, you can obtain a green card for your child under 21 through the immediate relative visa category if your child is unmarried. If your child is married, you can sponsor your child for a green card through the F3 family-based preference category. 

If I am a green card holder and I petition for my child over 21, how long is it going to take to get a green card?

Due to the limited number of visas issued each year in the F2B preference category, currently it would take approximately 6 years for your child to obtain a green card, unless your child is a citizen of Mexico or the Philippines in which case it may take longer than 10 years. You may review the green card backlogs on the Visa Bulletin.   

Can a green card holder sponsor a child over 21 for a green card?

Yes, a green card holder can file for a green card for a child of any age, as long as the child is unmarried. This means that if you have a green card, you can file for a green card for your child over 21.

Can a green card holder sponsor a child under 21 for a green card?

As a green card holder, you can sponsor a green card for child under 21. You can, in fact, sponsor a green card for a child of any age so long as he or she is unmarried. 

What are the green card interview questions for child?

Part of the green card for a child process, whether you apply for a green card for your child through the immediate relative visa category, or you apply for a green card for your child under the family-based preference system, is the green card interview. While many petitioners fret about this part of the green card for a child process, and are anxious to find out what the green card interview questions for child are, the interview should not be a cause of anxiety for an applicant. In fact, the green card interview is the final critical step in the application process, which should bring excitement. The purpose of the interview is for the officer to go over the application and to confirm that the applicant is eligible for a green card. The green card interview questions for a child allow the officer to confirm your child’s eligibility for permanent residence in the United States. The green card interview questions for child will include questions regarding the information provided in the application. The officer will want to make sure that your child is not inadmissible to the United States due to criminal convictions, prior immigration violations, health related grounds, or other reasons. USCIS often waives interviews for children applying for a green card. 

How to renew green card for child?

If your child’s green card is expiring, you may apply to renew green card for child by submitting Form I-90. Unconditional green cards generally have a 10-year validity period. If your child has been a green card holder for 10 years, your child may be eligible for naturalization. Generally, a green card holder is eligible for naturalization after 5 years of permanent residence. You may file for naturalization by submitting form N-400 with USCIS. Once the naturalization application is approved, your child becomes a US citizen. 

Green Card for Child Immigration Services

Are you a US citizen wishing to sponsor a green card for child or wondering how to apply green card for child?  Our family-based immigration attorneys have the knowledge and experience to devise the best immigration strategy for your needs to sponsor your child for a green card. 

To schedule a consultation with our immigration attorney, please click here and click on “Schedule a Consultation.” You can also email us at [email protected], or call us at (212) 220-6652.

During your consultation, our family-based immigration lawyer will provide an honest assessment of your case, and a recommendation about your next steps.

I offer confidential 30 minute & 1 hour consultations.

Disclaimer: This blog article is provided by Pandev Law, LLC for general educational and informational purposes only. Although this article discusses general legal issues, it does not constitute legal advice nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. No reader should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information presented in this article, or elsewhere on this website, without seeking the advice of appropriate legal counsel, or other professional counsel, licensed in the relevant jurisdiction. Pandev Law, LLC expressly disclaims any and all liability with respect to any actions taken, or not taken, based on any content of this article or website. This blog article may constitute attorney advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.