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ALLAN WERNICK: Only ‘preference’ green card applicants can bring children when they immigrate

Q. How can I bring my 10 year old daughter here? I obtained permanent residence based on a petition filed by my US citizen daughter. I took my youngest daughter with me to my visa interview, but she couldn’t pass. The consular officer said that he had to apply for this daughter separately. What is the law on this?

B.Z., the Bronx

A. Due to a quirk in the law, only “preference” green card applicants can bring their children with them when they immigrate. Your son did not qualify to come with you because he immigrated in the immediate relative of a US citizen category.

The category provides many benefits for parents, spouses and unmarried children under 21 of US citizens, but does not allow immigrants to bring their children with them. The American consul had no choice but to deny his youngest daughter an immigrant visa. Other than applying for his daughter, his only other hope is to try to get her permission to come here on humanitarian parole.

For more information, see the USCIS web page on this topic, bit.ly/38LPeqr. Getting humanitarian parole is difficult. You will need to show special reasons why your daughter cannot simply wait to get an immigrant visa based on her petition.

Q. How can I get US citizenship for my adoptive nephew? I adopted my nephew two years ago. He is now 13 years old and recently arrived on a visitor’s visa. I recently applied for citizenship and hope that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will naturalize me soon. If my nephew stays longer, can he still get permanent residence? What about US citizenship?

M. Njako, Irving, Texas

A. Once your adopted nephew has been living with you for two years, he or she can apply to become a permanent resident. The fact that you have stayed longer as a visitor will not affect your right to obtain permanent residence. If he obtains permanent residence and you become a US citizen before he turns 18, he will automatically become a US citizen.

My guess is that it will take you less than six months to naturalize and another 18 months for your adopted child to obtain permanent residence. Once USCIS approves your application for permanent residence, you can immediately apply for a US passport.

Allan Wernick is an attorney and Senior Legal Counsel for Citizenship Now! from City University of New York. project. Email your questions and comments to @allanwernick.com. Follow him on Twitter @awernick

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