Question: I am a U.S. citizen. My wife is a Chinese citizen. She has a 12-year-old son from a prior marriage. I am submitting an application so my wife and her son (my stepson) can obtain green cards. What documents do I need to apply for a green card for my stepchild?
Answer: A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident can apply for a green card for a stepchild if the following conditions are met:
(1) The U.S. citizen or green card holder married the stepchild’s biological parent before the stepchild’s 18th birthday; and
(2) The marriage was a legitimate marriage, not a sham marriage entered into to obtain an immigration benefit.
To prove that both of these conditions are met, the parties must submit the following documents:
The U.S. petitioner’s required documents
The U.S. petitioner (U.S. citizen or green card holder) must provide the following documents:
- Birth certificate (if the petitioner was born in the U.S.).
- Naturalization certificate (if the petitioner obtained citizenship through naturalization).
- Green card (if the petitioner is a permanent resident).
- Proof of income for the current year: for example pay stubs, paychecks, or a letter from the petitioner’s employer.
- Tax return transcript for the most recent tax year.
The foreign stepchild’s required documents
The foreign stepchild must provide the following documents:
- Birth certificate.
- Passport biographical page.
- Visa for the applicant’s most recent entry into the U.S. (if the beneficiary is in the U.S.).
- Two passport-style photographs (2″ x 2″ with a white background).
Documents required to prove the validity of the petitioner’s marriage to the stepchild’s biological parent
The U.S. petitioner must prove that he or she has a legitimate marital relationship with the stepchild’s biological parent. To do this, the parties must provide the following documents:
- A marriage certificate between the U.S. petitioner and the stepchild’s biological parent.
- If the U.S. petitioner filed an immigration application for the stepchild’s biological parent, the U.S. petitioner must provide the receipt for the application.
- If the U.S. petitioner has not filed an immigration application for the stepchild’s biological parent, the U.S. petitioner must provide an explanation for why he or she failed to do so.
- Any other documents sufficient to show the existence of a bona fide marriage between the U.S. petitioner and the stepchild’s parent, including:
- Birth certificates for any children born to the marriage.
- Proof of cohabitation, including:
- A deed or lease containing both parties’ names.
- Letters or bills showing both parties’ names and address, such as utility bills or government notices.
- Proof of joint accounts and assets, including:
- Jointly-filed tax returns.
- Monthly statements for a joint bank account.
- Monthly statements for a joint credit card.
- Deeds to property in both parties’ names.
- Life insurance policies that contain both parties’ names.
- Health insurance policies that contain both parties’ names.
- Titles to vehicles in both parties’ names.
- Utility bills that contain both parties’ names.
- Photos together, including marriage ceremony photos and everyday photos.
- Letters from friends or family members explaining how they know the parties and providing observations that demonstrate the parties have a genuine marital relationship.
- Letter from the parties explaining how they met and decided to marry.
- Proof of travels to see each other, including passport pages with entry and exit stamps, hotel receipts, and boarding passes.
- Government-issued documents that contain both parties’ names and address.
- Evidence of correspondence with each other.
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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.