Green Cards (Common)
National Interest Waivers
Professors & Researchers
Executives & Managers
PERM Labor Certification
Investors (EB-5 visas)
Family (Spouse, etc.)
Work Visas (Common)
O-1 Extraordinary Ability
TN Canadians & Mexicans
J-1 Visa Holders
Nurses & Physical Therapists
Green Cards for Children of U.S. Citizens
Eligibility for Children Under 21 Years Old
Children of U.S. citizens may obtain permanent residency in the United States. Children under 21 years old qualify as “immediate relatives.” Immediate relatives are not subject to numerical limits, and can receive a visa as soon as a petition is approved. As long as the petition for an immigrant visa is filed before the child turns 21, the child qualifies as an immediate relative. You can find out more information about how the Child Status Protection Act prevents "aging out."
Children Over 21 Years Old
Children over 21 qualify under the first preference category. Children in this category must wait until a visa becomes available before they can enter the United States as a permanent resident. The State Department’s Visa Bulletin shows the wait for visas for each of the preference categories.
An adopted child qualifies as long as the adoption was finalized before the child's 16th birthday. The adoptive parents must have legal custody of the child for two years before or after the adoption. The child must reside with the adoptive parents for two years before or after the adoption.
A step-child qualifies as a child, if the marriage occurred before the step-child's 18th birthday.
If the child is already in the United States in another nonimmigrant status, the U.S. citizen parent can file an immigrant petition and an application to adjust status at the same time. Once the petition and application are approved, the child is a permanent resident of the United States.
If the child is outside of the United States, the U.S. citizen must file an immigrant petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition should request that the USCIS notify a U.S. Consulate in the country where the child lives. If the child is over 21 years old or married, the child must wait until a visa becomes available. The State Department’s National Visa Center then sends a series of forms called a “Packet 3.” After the necessary forms are completed, the child goes to the U.S. Consulate to apply for an immigrant visa. The child is a permanent resident when he or she enters the United States with the immigrant visa.
Immediate family members of a child of a U.S. citizen may be eligible to immigrate to the United States. If the child of a U.S. citizen is married, the spouse is eligible to accompany their wife or husband in immigrating to the United States. If the child of a U.S. citizen has children of their own, those children may immigrate with their parent if their parent is either married or over 21. These categories are subject to numerical limits, which are described in the Visa Bulletin.