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Green Card for Immediate Relatives: Stepchildren and Stepparents

Updated: Feb 21, 2022

Did you know that as a U.S. Citizen (USC) you can petition for legal permanent status for your stepparent or stepchild?

Here are the requirements:

  • The stepparent/stepchild relationship must have initiated before the child turned 18 years old;

  • The stepchild must be a US Citizen and 21 years old or older to petition for a stepparent.

Adoption by the stepparent is not required. That is because the USCIS recognizes the relationship - and bond - between stepparents and stepchildren, and considers them to be an “immediate relative”.

As an immediate relative, stepparents or stepchildren of a U.S. Citizen can receive a green card while in the U.S. or outside of the U.S. via consular processing. For more information on immediate relatives and the green card process, go to

In order to prove the stepparent/stepchildren relationship, you will need the following documents:

  • Copy of biological or adoptive parent’s marriage certificate to stepparent (with certified translation, if applicable);

  • Copy of any divorce decrees for previous marriages;

  • USC’s birth certificate to prove the stepparent/stepchild relationship started before the USC turned 18 years old.

The green card process for a stepparent or stepchild is like all other green card processes for immediate relatives and starts with I-130 or the recognition of the family connection. In fact, if you look at form I-130, you will see that it contains an option for stepparents and stepchildren under family relationships. The process then continues with I-485 or adjustment of status. In this case, both files can be filed together or, as in USCIS terminology, concurrently.

What if the stepparent is no longer married to the USC’s biological or adoptive parent? Even if divorced, the stepchild can still petition for the stepparent if the conditions above are met.

One important piece of this puzzle is to make sure that the marriage took place before the child relative turned 18 years old. If your stepparent helped raise you but he or she did not legally marry your biological or adoptive parent until after your 18th birthday, you may be out of luck.

Finally, if you are sponsoring your spouse and a stepchild, keep in mind that you will not be able to add the stepchild to the petition you are filing on your spouse’s behalf. Because these are two separate cases - even though they involve immediate relatives - you will have to submit two separate petitions. The good news is that, as stated above, both are considered immediate relatives.

Immediate relatives do not have to wait “in line” for their priority date or for a visa number to become available for them. On the contrary, they immediately qualify for legal permanent resident status and are immediately considered to be on pending status until they receive the green card. The wait time is practically the same although it varies depending on a number of factors ranging from changes in the administration and mistakes made when filling out forms or missing evidence.

If you have any questions regarding your situation and believe you or a family member qualify for legal permanent t status based on a stepparent/stepchild relationship, contact me today at 801-608-4706 or You can also schedule a one-hour immigration consultation at


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