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Bringing Your Child(ren) to the U.S.
This page explains how to petition for an immigrant visa for your child (permanent residency). For information on birth situations, see Birth Abroad.
Am I Eligible?A U.S. citizen may petition to bring a child to live and work in the United States permanently, regardless of the child's age or marital status. A lawful permanent resident may only petition for an unmarried child of any age.
If you had children before you became a permanent resident, your children may be eligible to receive following-to-join benefits. This means that you would not have to submit a separate USCIS Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for your children, and your children will not have to wait any extra time for a visa number to become available.
Please note that if you are a U.S. citizen, you do not need to file separate visa petitions for the unmarried, minor children of your unmarried child over the age of 21. You also do not need to file separate visa petitions for the spouse or unmarried, minor children of your married child of any age. If you are a legal permanent resident, you do not need to file separate visa petitions for the unmarried, minor children of your unmarried child.
You should also be prepared to prove that you meet the income requirement of a sponsor. Your household income should be sufficient to support your family at 125% or more above the U.S. poverty level for your household size. For more details, see Filing an Affidavit of Support for a Relative.
The ProcessAn immigrant (also called a "lawful permanent resident") is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. Your children must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. First, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant petition that you file for your children. Second, the State Department must give your children an immigrant visa number, even if your children are already in the United States. Third, if your children are already in the United States, your children may apply to adjust to permanent resident status when a visa number becomes available. If your children are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, your children will be notified to go to the local U.S. Consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.
Obtaining an Immigrant Visa NumberIf you are a U.S. Citizen and the immigrant visa petition is approved for your unmarried child(ren) under the age of 21, an immigrant visa number will be immediately available to them; if the immigrant visa petition is approved for your unmarried child(ren) 21 years of age or older, or for your married child(ren), they must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system.
If you are a legal permanent resident and the immigrant visa petition is approved for your unmarried child of any age, they must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system.
Those that must wait according to the preference system may not get an immigrant visa number immediately after the immigrant visa petition is approved for them (because the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available each year is limited). In some cases, several years could pass between the time USCIS approves the immigrant visa petition and the State Department provides an immigrant visa number. Because U.S. law also limits the number of immigrant visas available by country, they may have to wait longer if they come from a country with a high demand for U.S. immigrant visas. For more information, see The Preference System.
Work PermitsYour children do not need to apply for a work permit once they are admitted as an immigrant with their immigrant visa or have already been approved for adjustment to permanent resident status. As a legal permanent resident, your children should receive Permanent Resident Cards (commonly referred to as 'Green Cards') that will prove that they have a right to live and work in the United States permanently. If your children are now outside the United States, they will receive a passport stamp upon arrival in the United States. This stamp will prove that they are allowed to work until a Permanent Resident Card is created.
If your children are in the U.S. and have applied to adjust to permanent resident status (by filing USCIS Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status), they are eligible to apply for a work permit while their case is pending if they are over the age of 14. Your children should use Form I-765 to apply for a work permit (see Obtaining a Work Permit for more information).