I am a US Citizen and would like to sponsor a green card for my fiancee. She has a 6-year-old child she adopted herself, and an 8-year old child who has a biological father in her home country. Can she bring her children to the US with her?
Yes, it might be possible. To begin, each child has a special requirement you need to be aware of:
- Child 1: Adopted children need to be in custody of the adoptive parent, and need to have resided with the adopted parent for 2 years to be considered a “child” for immigration purposes. These 2 years or residing with the parent can happen before the child is adopted. You would need to show proof of the residency, so check to see if your fiancee has a court order or document showing the dates of custody.
- Child 2: many countries logically have special requirements to prevent children from being taken out of the country agains a biological parent’s wishes. You may need the biological father’s written notarized statement allowing his children to obtain a US visa and leave the home country. Check your country’s US Embassy page to see specifically what the embassy needs before allowing the children to travel. Be careful – while some countries do not specifically list this requirement for a US visa, the process to obtain a child’s passport may require consent of both biological parents. Make sure to consult with the child’s biological parent to make sure all parties consent to the children traveling to the US.
If you’re able to satisfy each child’s special requirements, you can move forward with helping your fiancee and the children come to the US! Generally, there are two paths you could follow to get started (I discussed them in more detail here, and an attorney could discuss additional options depending on your particular circumstance.) Here is an overview of costs/timelines related to the 2 children of your fiancee:
Path A: You marry your fiancee anywhere in the world, and then petition for her, as your new wife to be a US Permanent Resident. You would also file petitions for the children at the same time. They would both be considered your step-children, and a step-child is considered a “child” for immigration purposes as long as “the child was under 18 when the step-relationship was created.” This means you would pay the $420 filing fee 3 times. Processing would take anywhere between 6 months to 1 year, and then all 3 would have a visa interview with the US embassy. There would be additional fees with the Embassy for all 3 people. If all went smoothly, all could then come to the US and would receive green cards.
Path B: You will begin by filing a K-1 visa petition for your fiancee, which takes around 4 – 9 months to be determined and would cost $340. Her children are able to be listed on her application because they are under 21 and unmarried, so there is only 1 fee to pay. They will attend her visa interview along with her (paying Embassy fees again for all 3 people), and if all goes well — travel with her to the US in K-2 status. Next, you would marry within 90 days, and then your new wife and both children would apply for an adjustment of status. This would require a large petition, showing proof of the marriage and of each family member’s relationship. There would be a separate petition for your wife and each child, and 3 government processing fees of $1070.
This is a general overview of the process. Speak with an attorney so that you can describe your situation in detail to make sure no other complications would arise. Best Wishes!