Petition for Married Child Over 21: Navigating the Green Card Process

When a U.S. citizen has an adult child who is married and over 21, they can petition for that child to immigrate to the United States and seek permanent residency, also known as a Green Card. This immigration process involves filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the son or daughter.

The process of petitioning for a married adult child is notably different from petitioning for an unmarried minor child, as it falls under a separate preference category in the family-based immigration system, which is subject to annual caps and a longer waiting period due to higher demand and limited visas available.

g-1055 form

Understanding this process’s nuances and legal requirements is essential for those seeking to reunite their family in the United States. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides guidelines and updates on the necessary forms, documentation, and procedures to navigate this complex area of immigration law.

Understanding Family-Based Immigrant Visas

When a U.S. citizen has a married child over 21, they fall under the “preference relative” category in the family-based immigrant visa process, making the path to a Green Card follow specific visa preferences and categories.

Eligibility for Child of U.S. Citizen

To sponsor a married son or daughter over 21, the U.S. citizen parent must initiate the process by filing Form I-130. This form serves as a petition for an alien relative and is the first step in the visa application process. The child’s marriage status and age place them within the family preference category, which has annual limits on the number of visas issued, unlike the immediate relative category.

Visa Categories and Preferences

  • F1: For unmarried adult children of U.S. citizens
  • F3: For married children of U.S. citizens
  • F4: For siblings of adult U.S. citizens

Each category has a specific preference level, with immediate relatives of U.S. citizens—spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents—not subject to direct numerical limits. Conversely, relatives in the family preference category, like married children over 21, are subject to quota restrictions, often leading to longer waiting times for visa availability.

Preparing the Petition

Precision in preparation is paramount when petitioning for a married child over 21. This includes gathering the appropriate documents, completing relevant forms with accurate information, and understanding financial responsibility obligations.

Required Documentation

Petitioners must present several key documents: proof of their U.S. citizenship, proof of a qualifying relationship with the child, and proof of their age and marital status. These may include a U.S. passport, birth certificate, marriage certificate, and more.

Form I-130 and Supporting Evidence

Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the primary form to establish the familial relationship. It must be accompanied by supporting evidence such as:

  • Proof of the petitioner’s status as a U.S. citizen or green card holder
  • A copy of the child’s birth certificate showing the names of both parents
  • Marriage certificates to prove any name changes
  • Evidence of any legal name changes for the petitioner or the child

Affidavit of Support

An Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) is a legal contract between the petitioner and the U.S. Government. It demonstrates that the petitioner has sufficient income or assets to support the immigrant child, ensuring they do not rely on public benefits. The requirements include:

  • Most recent tax returns
  • Employment verification
  • Proof of income (such as pay stubs or an employment letter)

The Application Process

Navigating the procedure for petitioning a married child over 21 involves several detailed steps and adherence to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) regulations.

Submitting the Application

The petitioning parent, who must be a U.S. citizen, initiates the application by filing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). This form requires precise information regarding the petitioner and the beneficiary, which includes marital status, age, and family relationship.

USCIS Processing Steps

Once Form I-130 is submitted, USCIS reviews the petition to confirm the familial relationship. Approval of the petition does not grant an immigrant visa or legal status but recognizes a valid relationship.

Priority Dates and Visa Bulletins

The child’s priority date is when the petition was properly filed. The petitioner and beneficiary should check the Monthly Visa Bulletin from the Department of State to determine visa availability, which is subject to country-specific caps.

Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing

Beneficiaries already in the U.S. may seek to adjust their status to permanent resident by filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) if a visa number becomes available. Those outside the U.S. must undergo consular processing at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Post-Submission Steps

After a submission of a US citizenship petition child over 21, there are several procedural steps to follow. These steps ensure the application progresses through various stages of the immigration process.

Responding to Requests for Evidence

Should the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) require additional evidence to decide on the petition, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). The petitioner or beneficiary must respond to an RFE within the specified time frame, generally 60-90 days, with the requested information.

The National Visa Center

Once USCIS approves the I-130 petition, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is responsible for collecting visa application fees and supporting documentation. Applicants and petitioners will receive instructions from the NVC regarding the necessary documents and how to submit them.

Scheduling the Interview

The final step before a visa can be issued is the consular interview. When a visa number becomes available, the NVC will schedule an interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s home country. The applicant will be notified about the interview date and must attend with all required documentation, including medical examination results and supporting documents.

Potential Challenges and Delay Factors

When petitioning for a married child over 21, U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents may encounter specific hurdles related to administrative processing times and legal quotas.

Administrative Processing

Processing petitions for married children over 21 typically involves more complex administrative procedures due to the additional verification and checks required. This can include:

  • Document Verification: Confirming the accuracy of all submitted documents often extends processing times.
  • Security Checks: Comprehensive background checks on the child and their spouse might lead to delays.

Quotas and Backlogs

Visa availability for married children over 21 is subject to statutory numerical limits. Key elements impacting this category include:

  • Limited Visas: Unlike immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, married children fall under the family preference category with annual numerical limitations.
  • Priority Date Backlogs: The child’s place of birth and category may affect their place in the visa queue. Some countries face significant backlogs, extending the waiting period significantly.

Legal Considerations

When petitioning for a married child over 21, it is crucial to understand the legal nuances that govern this process. The petitioner must adhere to specific regulations and guidelines set by U.S. immigration law.

Rights and Protections

Petitioners and their beneficiaries are granted rights and protections under U.S. immigration law throughout the petitioning process. One of the primary rights is the ability to apply for Permanent Resident status through Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. However, this form is merely the start of the process. Married children over 21 fall under the Family Preference category, which often means longer waiting periods due to annual visa number limitations.

Beneficiaries are protected against discrimination and have the right to privacy regarding their personal information. All information provided to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must be handled according to privacy laws and regulations.

Appeals and Motions to Reopen or Reconsider

If a petition is denied, petitioners can appeal the decision. For USCIS decisions, they may file Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion, no later than 30 days after receiving the denial notice. Moreover, they may file a motion to reopen the case, which requires new facts supported by affidavits or other documentary evidence, or a motion to reconsider, which asks USCIS to reexamine the decision based on a claimed incorrect application of law or policy.

Notice must be taken that the right to appeal or file motions does not guarantee a decision reversal. The processing times for these actions can vary, and potential delays should be expected.

Resources and Assistance

When navigating the process of petitioning for a married child over the age of 21, having access to the right resources and assistance can streamline and simplify the procedure.

Finding Legal Help

One must seek competent legal assistance to ensure accurate filing of Form I-130, the Petition for Alien Relative. Attorneys specializing in immigration law often provide the most reliable assistance. They stay updated on policy changes and can navigate complex scenarios that may arise. Individuals may consult the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) to find licensed practitioners.

Support Organizations

Several non-profits and community organizations offer support to individuals petitioning for relatives. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center (ILRC) and Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC) provide educational materials, workshops, and sometimes even pro bono services. They can help petitioners understand the visa quota system and prepare for potential waiting periods.