Question: I am a U.S. citizen. I have a 19-year-old son who is a foreign citizen. I have never been married to my son’s mother. How can I apply for a green card for my son born out of wedlock?
Answer: A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (a green card holder) can apply for a green card for an unmarried child under the age of 21. During the application process, the U.S. petitioner must prove the existence of a parent-child relationship. If the U.S. petitioner is the child’s mother, the mother just needs to provide the child’s birth certificate.
Similarly, if the U.S. petitioner is the child’s father, and the child’s mother and father were married before the child’s 18th birthday, the father just needs to provide the child’s birth certificate showing both parents’ names.
However, if the child’s parents were not married before the child turned 18, the process is more complicated. You must submit evidence that either (1) the child was “legitimated” before the child turned 18 or (2) that a bona fide parent-child relationship between you and your child existed before your child turned 21.
How do I prove my child was “legitimated” before age 18?
A child born out of wedlock is sometimes referred to as “illegitimate.” To obtain a green card for a child born out of wedlock, you must prove that the child was legitimated under the law of the child’s residence or domicile, or under the law of your residence or domicile, before the child turned 18. The specific process depends on the law where you or your child lives. Normally, this will require a court proceeding and an order signed by a judge establishing that you are the child’s father.
How do I prove the existence of a bona fide parent-child relationship before my child turned 21?
If you did not legitimate your child before he turned 18, then you must prove that a bona fide parent-child relationship existed before your child turned 21. For example, you may submit the following documents:
- Evidence that you lived with the child,
- School records that list you as the child’s father,
- Medical records that list you as the child’s father,
- Evidence that you supported your child financially,
- Evidence of insurance you purchased for your child,
- Your will or life insurance policy listing your child as the beneficiary,
- Emails or letters between you and your child,
- Letters from friends and family who can attest to your relationship with your child, and
- Pictures of you and your child together.
The more evidence you are able to provide, the more likely you will be able to obtain a green card for your child.
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ImmiFree.Law is The Harrison Law Firm P.C.’s online platform to make the family immigration and naturalization process more efficient, accurate, and affordable. Baya Harrison, Esq. is an attorney licensed in New York, Florida, and California. Attorney Harrison has helped numerous individuals and families navigate the U.S. immigration process, specifically family-based petitions and naturalization.