Q: I am sponsoring my wife for a green card. She has 2 children from a previous marriage. Can we add her children to her green card application as derivatives or dependents?
A: Your wife’s children may be able to receive permanent resident status (green cards), but not as derivatives of your wife. Your wife is considered an Immediate Relative for immigration purposes, and so her children would need to qualify on their own for permanent residency. Generally this is done by the stepparent (you) sponsoring the stepchildren. Here’s how it works:
1. Make sure the children qualify. Each child needs to be less than 21 years old. Also, each child must have been younger than 18 years old when you and your wife married. (See INA 101(b)(1))
2. Apply for your wife and each child. Use separate immigration forms for your wife and each child, and provide USCIS fees for all 3. All of the forms and supplementing documents should be sent together.
note: If the children are already in the US, they may be able to adjust their status in the US. In that case, each child needs his or her own adjustment form and fee as well.