Immigration Q&A: Filing for a stepchild

Attorney Caroly Pedersen, Esq. of the American Immigration Law Center

Question: I married my American husband in 2010 and got my green card. Now my husband wants to sponsor my 19-year-old daughter as well as her stepfather. Since my husband is American, will my daughter get her U.S. citizenship automatically through him since she’s still a minor?

Answer: Under the Child Citizenship Act, certain qualifying foreign-born children automatically acquire U.S. citizenship from a parent simultaneously with their grant of U.S. residency. To qualify, a child needs at least one U. S. citizen parent (by birth or naturalization), be under 18 years of age, be a U.S. resident and residing with the U.S. citizen parent. Essentially, immigrant children in the U.S. and abroad can automatically become U.S. citizens and can immediately apply for a passport. However, the law does not extend to immigrant children when the sponsoring U.S. citizen is a step-parent, not biological parent, unless the child was legally adopted. It does, however, allow a step-parent who was married to the child’s biological parent before the child reached the age of 18 to qualify to sponsor the minor child up until the age of 20 for U.S. residency.

But in your case, while your daughter can obtain U.S. Residency through her step-father, she does not qualify to automatically become a U.S. citizen under these rules.

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