Immigration to the United States is a process that is governed by numerous rules and regulations. As a result, for immigrants who are looking to bring their children to the U.S., understanding the legal pathways that determine when this goal is and is not achievable is important.
Broadly speaking, the ability to bring children to the U.S. largely depends on a sponsoring immigrant’s status, the age and marital status of the children in question and the specific immigration laws that apply to their unique circumstances.
This is the most common way for immigrants to bring their children to the U.S. U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs, or green card holders) can sponsor their children for immigration. For U.S. citizens, their unmarried children under 21 are considered “immediate relatives” and can usually immigrate relatively quickly. There are also provisions for married children and those over 21, but these categories often have longer waiting periods due to visa limitations.
Refugees and asylees
Refugees and asylees can apply to bring their children to the U.S. through the family reunification process. This process typically allows them to bring their unmarried children under 21. It’s important for refugees and asylees to apply on behalf of their children within a specific time frame after being granted asylum or refugee status.
In some cases, when an individual is immigrating to the U.S. for work, they can bring their dependents, including children, with them. These dependents can enter the U.S. on derivative visas linked to the primary applicant’s employment-based visa. Additionally, there are various other visa categories, such as student or investor visas, where dependents can accompany the primary visa holder.
With all of this said, immigration laws are complex and subject to change. As a result, those who are looking to bring children to the U.S. can benefit from seeking personalized legal guidance as they pursue their goals.