U.S. Law Center

Bringing children to the United States

It is common for permanent residents who are living in Riverside or Orange County, California, to have other family members still living in their home country. Under family immigration law, certain people have priority when it comes to reuniting with family members in the United States, and these include children under the age of 21. When a parent wants to bring a child to the United States, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services requires certain documentation verifying the fulfillment of guidelines based on the age of the child and the specific family relationship.

According to the USCIS, the child must be under the age of 21 and an immediate relative of a permanent resident. A father who files the petition must demonstrate that there is a legitimate parent-child relationship. This can be evidence of financial and/or emotional support, or through documentation that includes a birth certificate and marriage certificate. The biological mother of a child does not need to legitimate the relationship between them to petition for immigration, whether the child was born in or out of wedlock. All she needs is an official copy of the child’s birth certificate.

If a child was adopted, the parent must produce the child’s birth certificate, adoption decree and proof of two years of legal and physical custody. A step-parent may be able to petition for a step-child, as well. The child must have been younger than 18 when the marriage creating the relationship took place, and there must be a copy of the marriage certificate to a spouse who is the legitimated parent, as well as the birth certificate of the child.

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