My Mother got remarried to my U.S. citizen stepfather when I was 10 years old and now he wants to sponsor me for a green card. Is this possible? Absolutely! A U.S. citizen has the right to sponsor many different family members for green cards. First and foremost, they can sponsor immediate relatives such as spouses, parents and unmarried children under the age of 21 with no need to wait for a visa to be available. They can also sponsor adult children, but there is a bit of a waiting period for those visas to become available.
What about a stepchild? It is also possible to receive a green card from a step-parent whether or not the child was born out of wedlock as long as the child was under the age of eighteen at the time of the marriage between the biological parent and the U.S. citizen parent. Often times, immigration will also require evidence of the relationship between the step parent and child to prove that there was a real relationship and that they were a meaningful part of the child’s life and they are not just trying to give away legal permanent residency.
For those who have siblings from their parent’s first relationship, a green card is also possible for a step-sibling. Like the parent-child relationship, a US citizen can sponsor their half-sibling or step-sibling as long as both siblings share one common parent and they can meet the requirements for being recognized as the legitimate child of the sponsoring parent. This sounds confusing, but as long as it can be shown that your sibling is the legitimate child of your U.S. sponsor parent or from the new relationship, then you will be able to sponsor them for a green card yourself.
When moving forward with one of these sibling cases, it is good to know that the legal ability to sponsor a sibling, step-sibling or half-sibling is only half the battle. The other more challenging part of the process is the wait time. The sibling category for legal permanent residents is the lowest category and, therefore, it has the longest wait time of any green card process. Typically, it takes anywhere from 15 to 25 years (yes years) for the visa to be available for the green card process. One small bit of good news about this category is that the age or relationship of the sibling does not matter for eligibility purposes as it does for a parent sponsor. So, even a married sibling over the age of 21 will have the same process as an unmarried minor sibling.
Not surprising, a closely related legal obstacle for some green card processes will require the father to prove paternity for kids born outside marriage. Sometimes they even have to prove paternity within a marriage relationship. The reason for this is that current U.S. immigration law only recognizes the legal rights of a legitimate child.
How can one prove a child is the legitimate offspring of the father? The quickest and easiest way is to have a birth certificate listing the names of both the child and the father. Proof of paternity is also possible through DNA testing. Another aspect of legitimacy is showing that the mother and father were either married or were in a committed relationship. This method allows the father to show the bonds of the relationship with the child through evidence of an ongoing relationship dating back to when the child was a minor. If the father can show that he was a regular part of the child’s life even if he did not marry the mother, then he will be able to prove the child is legitimately his.
Clearly this is a very technical area of immigration law and any applicant must carefully analyze the facts of the case before filing for the green card process. If you have any questions about how to accomplish this, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. You can do this either by calling our office at 616-805-3435 or by using the following link to schedule an appointment online: https://marvinlawoffice.com/schedule-a-consultation/