The Immigration and Nationality Act provides two definitions for a child. One definition is applied during the application and issuance of a visa. The other definition applies during naturalization and citizenship. These definitions are different since a stepchild is not included in the citizenship and naturalization definition. In this definition, a child is an unmarried person below 21 years of age. The child must be a genetic, legitimate or adopted relative of a U.S. citizen. Additionally, the child can be a son or daughter of a non-genetic U.S. citizen mother. In New Jersey, the relevant authorities must recognize the mother as the legal parent to the child.
A child is legitimated to their parents if the child is legitimated in the U.S. under the law of the father’s country of residence or the child’s country of residence. A non-genetic gestational mother can legitimate her child. Although legitimization is historically based on father-child relationships, a gestational mother needs to take action to formalize this relationship legally. During immigration, the appropriate citizen provision needs to be reviewed in determining the case of a legitimated child.
An adopted child means that all the full, final and complete adoption process has been followed while adopting the child. A child must be adopted in the U.S. or abroad, be under 16 years of age and be in the legal custody of the adopting parent. The adoption process must be legal and valid in the U.S.
The law also has a definition for adopted orphans. To adopt an orphan, the adoption must be full and final, not defective, and the adoptive parent must have seen the child before the process. The child must reside with the adopting parents.
Immigration is a complex task in the United States. If you plan to immigrate to the U.S., you may want to work with an experienced immigration law attorney who understands the ever-changing requirements.