Family of U.S. Citizens

Non-citizens who want to be admitted to the United States are presumed to be seeking permanent residence. One of the four primary classes of persons seeking permanent residence are Family-Based Immigrants.


There is NO limit to the number of people who may immigrate as immediate relatives.

A non-citizen may immigrate as an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen if the person is a child, spouse or parent of the citizen, sibling, fiancé, or children of fiancé.


For information regarding Family of Green Card Holders (permanent Residents) see Family of Green Card Holders.


   1. Children

The age and marital status of your children are important factors in the immigration process. For immigration purposes, a “child” is defined as being unmarried and under 21, whereas if a person is married and/or over 21, that person is defined as a “son” or “daughter.”

If you are a U.S. Citizen you may petition for Children that are unmarried and under 21; Unmarried sons and daughters (21 or over) – Your son or daughter’s child(ren) may be included on this petition; Married sons and daughters (any age) – Your son or daughter’s spouse and/or child(ren) may be included on this petition.

To qualify as a “child” of a U.S. citizen, the person must be unmarried and under 21 years of age. Stepchildren and adopted children are viewed as the same as biological children under the INA definition of “child.”

For immigration purposes, a child can be any of the following:

  • A genetic child born in wedlock

  • A genetic child born out of wedlock:

    • If the mother is petitioning, no legitimation is required.

    • If the father is petitioning, legitimation is required in accordance with the laws of the father or child’s place of residence.

    • If the father is petitioning and the relationship is not legitimated under applicable laws, a bona fide parent-child relationship must be shown to have existed prior to the child’s 21st birthday and while the child was unmarried.

  • A child born through Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) to a non-genetic gestational mother who is recognized under the law of the relevant jurisdiction as the child’s legal parent at the time of the child’s birth.

  • A step-child, as long as the marriage creating the step-relationship occurred before the child turned 18

  • An adopted child if the child was adopted before age 16 (or before their 18th birthday, if certain circumstances described on the Adoption-Based Family Petition Process or Adoption-Based Form I-130 Process application material may apply) AND the adoptive parent has satisfied 2-year legal custody and joint residence requirements. (The legal custody and joint residence do not have to be during the same time period, but each must be met for a cumulative 2-year period.) NOTE: Contact the Law Office of Mubarak Malik| The Immigration Advocate for more information as adopted children are a more complicated area of immigration which requires extra diligence in determining what steps to take.

Children born in wedlock may obtain immediate relative status through either parent. Children born out of wedlock can qualify for permanent residence through their natural mother, or through their natural father if they are legitimated before the age of 18 or the father “has or had a bona fide parent-child relationship with the [child].”

Step-children are considered immediate relatives if they were less than 18 years of age at the time of the marriage creating the relationship, regardless of the age at which they seek to immigrate.

Adoptive children and orphans may also qualify. Contact The Law Office of Mubarak Malik| The Immigration Advocate for more information. In general, adoptive children and orphans involve a more thorough analysis and discussion.

   2. Spouse

In order to bring your spouse (husband or wife) to live in the United States as a Green Card holder (permanent resident), you must be either a U.S. citizen or Green Card holder.

   3. Parents

To petition for your parents (mother or father) to live in the United States as Green Card holders, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years old. Green Card holders (permanent residents) may not petition to bring parents to live permanent in the United States. Contact The Law Office of Mubarak Malik| The Immigration Advocate for more information as what steps you must take to petition depend upon your circumstances.

   4. Siblings

To petition to bring your sibling (brother or sister) to live in the United States as a Green Card holder, you must be a U.S. citizen and at least 21 years of age. Permanent Residents may NOT petition to bring siblings to live permanently in the United States.

   5. Fiancé

If you are a U.S. citizen who wants to bring your foreign fiancé to the United States in order to get married, you will need to file a Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé. This is the first step to obtaining a K-1 nonimmigrant visa for your fiancé. The K-1 nonimmigrant visa is also known as the fiancé visa.

In order to obtain a K-1 fiancé visa, you and your fiancé must intend to marry each other within 90 days of your fiancé entering the U.S. as a K-1 nonimmigrant. Your marriage must be valid, meaning both you and your fiancé have a bona fide intent to establish a life together and the marriage is not for the sole purpose of obtaining an immigration benefit.

If your fiancé marries you within 90 days of being admitted to the United States as a K-1 nonimmigrant, he or she may apply for lawful permanent resident status in the United State (a Green Card).

If you have already married, plan to marry outside the United States, or your fiancé is already residing legally in the United States, your spouse or fiancé is not eligible for a fiancé visa. Contact The Law Office of Mubarak Malik| The Immigration Advocate for more information about how to help your foreign spouse and foreign spouses' children apply for a Green Card.


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