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U.S. immigration law and children of permanent residents

There has been much controversy in the media lately about the status of families who are separated by U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. However, in Miami and elsewhere in the United States, family relationships are cherished, and the government has set up some programs to prevent children from being separated from their parents who have permanent residency, as long as they meet eligibility requirements.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there are many programs that allow for family immigration opportunities not offered to other categories of immigrants. This is particularly true for sons and daughters who are considered children. They meet this requirement if they are under the age of 21 and unmarried, as children in these circumstances often depend on their parents for emotional, physical and financial support.

The USCIS provides some detailed guidelines about which children may be eligible for this immigration opportunity. When the child is born to married parents, or the genetic mother is filing the petition, the qualification is straightforward. If a green card holder married the child’s parent before the child turned 18, that step-child may qualify. An adoptive parent must meet several requirements. These include maintaining both physical and legal custody of the child for at least two years before the age of 16. Exceptions may apply in some situations, though.

Another situation that is less clear-cut involves a child of a father who was not married to the mother at the time of the birth. In this case, the father must legitimate the parent-child relationship, and the process is governed by the laws of the location of the father’s residence or the child’s. There are also exceptions that may be considered by the court if the father can demonstrate that there is a parent-child relationship, even if there is no legal legitimation.

Because of the many factors that may affect an application, a permanent resident may not want to rule out the possibility of a child’s immigration until all angles of the situation have been evaluated carefully.

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