Jewish Journal

The red-headed step-child gets a green card

by Cedric M. Shen

August 22, 2011 | 4:36 pm

I’ve previously written about family-based green cards and immediate relatives.  Namely, a US citizen parent may sponsor a non-citizen child under the age of 21 for a green card.  But what about step children?  With divorce and re-marriages becoming more and more common, it’s only natural to expect situations in which a US citizen parent wants to sponsor a step-child under the age of 21.  The good news is that this is possible, with a caveat.  The general rule is that a step-parent may sponsor a step-child for a green card if the marriage creating the parent-child relationship took place before the child turned eighteen.  This means that the petitioner/step-parent has to have married his or her second spouse prior to the beneficiary’s 18th birthday.  If the petitioner/step-parent marries after the beneficiary’s 18th birthday, but before the 21st birthday, then the beneficiary is not eligible for “immediate relative” status even though he/she would have been but for the step-parent relationship.

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Cedric M. Shen is a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney experienced in helping foreign nationals enter the United States. His law practice focuses on employment-based green...

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