The core relationship which serves as the defining factor for all family-based rights and benefits accorded under immigration law, is the PARENT-CHILD relationship. The Immigration and Nationality Act defines the term “child” to include an unmarried person under the age of 21 years who is -
1. A legitimate child.
2. A stepchild, whether legitimate or illegitimate, as long as the child was not yet 18 years old when the marriage creating the status of stepchild occurred.
3. A child legally legitimized prior to the age of 18 years, provided the child is in the legal custody of the legitimizing parent at the time of the legitimization.
4. An illegitimate child in relation to its natural mother, or in relation to its natural father if the father has or had a bona-fide parent-child relationship with the child. Whether a child is "illegitimate" is generally determined according to the law of the child’s place or country of birth. For countries which do not make any distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children, eg African cultures and those of South America, or for those in which laws have been adopted abolishing the making of any distinction concerning legitimacy as between children, the issue is virtually irrelevant for immigration purposes. In such situations, either of the natural parents may petition for the child as all children under such situations are deemed to be “legitimate”.
5. An adopted child. For adoption to be recognized as valid for U.S. immigration purposes, the following general conditions must be met - If the adoption occurs in a foreign country, that country’s adoption laws apply; if it occurs in the U.S.the adoption laws in the intended State of residence in the U.S.apply. The adoption must occur before the child’s 16th.birthday, and the child must have been in the legal custody of, and lived with the adopting parents for at least two years after the adoption. Acceptable court papers and other documentation must be submitted to the USCIS to prove that the adoption took place, in accordance with the laws of the place of the supposed adoption.
6. Orphan. Generally, the orphan must be a bona fide orphan, whose parents have died or abandoned him. The following evidence must be submitted by the petitioner to establish a valid child-parent relationship -
(a) Evidence that the child lived with and was cared for as the child of the parent (or stepparent), or that the parent otherwise showed an active parental interest in the support and welfare of the child eg. proof of financial support, frequent visits or contacts with the child, open acknowledgement of the child, evidence that the parent has held out the child as his/her own and provided for the child’s needs, and in general any documented actions by the parent which reflects the existence of a parental relationship with the child.
(b) Documentary proof that the designated parents are in fact the parents -eg- affidavits from persons present at the time of the pregnancy and birth of the child who can affirm the identity of the natural father and/or mother.
(c) Marriage certificate or other proof of the marriage between the parents.
(d) The child's birth certificate.
(e) Evidence of legal termination or prior marriages, if either parent was previously married.
(f) Generally, credible evidence that a bona-fide blood relationship exists between the child and parents; the blood relationship must be established by clear and convincing evidence, which may include a blood test if other evidence such as the father’s name on the birth certificate or a judicial determination of paternity is not available.
The application for the child’s green card is made by the US citizen parent and filed with the USCIS on form I-130, along with supporting documentation.
A child born abroad is considered to be a “Derivative Citizen” if either of the parents are U.S.citizens. In this instance, the child is automatically entitled to a U.S. passport, and there is no need for the parent to file a visa petition for the child.