Bringing Children, Sons and Daughters to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents

Permanent Resident Card with Passport, and Employment Authorization Card

What Does Immigration Consider a Child?

The age and marital status of your children are important factors in the immigration process. For immigration purposes, a “child” is an unmarried person under 21 years of age. A “son” or “daughter” is a person who is married or is 21 years of age or older.

What Are the Eligibility Requirements?

If you are a U.S. Citizen, you may petition for:

  • Children (unmarried and under 21)
  • Unmarried sons and daughters (21 or over) - Your son or daughter’s child(ren) may be included in this petition.
  • Married sons and daughters (any age) - Your son or daughter’s spouse and/or child(ren) may be included on this petition.

If you are a Permanent resident (Green Card holder), you may petition for:

  • Children (unmarried and under 21) - Your child's child(ren) may be included in this petition.
  • Unmarried sons and daughters (21 or over) - Your son or daughter's child(ren) may be included in this petition.

Who Is Considered To Be a "Child" in the Immigration Process?

For immigration purposes, a child can be any of the following:

  • A genetic child born in wedlock
  • A genetic child born out of wedlock:
    • If the mother is petitioning, no legitimation is required.
    • If the father is petitioning, legitimation is required in accordance with the laws of the father or child’s place of residence.
    • If the father is petitioning and the relationship is not legitimated under applicable laws, a bona fide parent-child relationship must be shown to have existed prior to the child’s 21st birthday and while the child was unmarried.
  • A child born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to a non-genetic gestational mother who is recognized under the law of the relevant jurisdiction as the child’s legal parent at the time of the child’s birth.
  • A step-child, as long as the marriage creating the step-relationship occurred before the child turned 18.
  • An adopted child if the child was adopted before age 16 (or before their 18th birthday if certain circumstances described on the Adoption-Based Family Petition Process or Adoption-Based Form I-130 Process page apply), AND the adoptive parent has satisfied 2-year legal custody and joint residence requirements. (The legal custody and joint residence do not have to be during the same time period, but each must be met for a cumulative 2-year period.) NOTE: Most adoption-based immigration occurs through the orphan or Hague processes. If you are considering pursuing the Adoption-Based Form I-130 Process, you should review certain eligibility considerations. See the Adoption pages for more information.

For more information on this subject visit:

If you or someone you know needs legal assistance with the immigration process, please contact The Gillispie Law Firm using one of the methods below.

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