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Immediate relatives of U.S. Citizens: Child

To qualify as a "child" in this category, the beneficiary must be the son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, who is unmarried and under the age of 21. An adopted child qualifies as long as the adoption was finalized before the child's 16th birthday; the adoptive parents have legal custody of the child for two years (before or after the adoption); and the child resides with the adoptive parents for two years (before or after the adoption). A step-child qualifies as long as the marriage had occurred before the stepchild's 18th birthday. [INA 101 (b)(1), (b)(1)(B)]

There are two scenarios for a U.S. citizen's child to apply for immigration:

  1. The first scenario is that the child is already in the United States. In this case, the U.S. citizen can file an immigration petition (I-130) and the child can file an application to adjust status to permanent resident (I-485) at the same time.
  2. The second scenario is that the child is outside the United States. In this case, the U.S. citizen needs to file an immigration petition and request that the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the child lives. Once the immigration petition is approved, the National Visa Center of the U.S. State Department sends a forms and information package, "Packet 3", to the U.S. citizen. After the necessary forms are completed, the child goes to the U.S. Consulate overseas to apply for an immigrant visa. On the day that the child enters the United States on an immigrant visa, he or she becomes a U.S. permanent resident.

A child of a U.S. citizen who is seeking permanent residency and who will turn 21 will “age-out” and lose his original eligibility. In most cases, if the child turns 21 before the adjustment case is approved, the case moves into another preference category which can result in a delay in the processing time. For more information on age out, please click here.

Alan is an alien child of U.S. citizens. His parents applied for his adjustment of status while he was still 20 and unmarried. He was qualified as an immediate relative of U.S. citizens. Now he reaches 21 while his application for I-485 adjustment is pending. He ages out as an immediate relative of U.S. citizens. He now is qualified for Family Based Immigration in the First Preference.

For more information on children of U.S. citizens, please click on the following links:


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