Immigrant Petitions for Step Parents: How They Work


Immigrant petitions for step-parents can be complicated. The law office of attorney Michael G. Murray, P.A. offers this guide. Call to schedule a consultation.

Can I Petition for My Step-Parent?


The U.S. is considered the “land of opportunity,” and many people want to immigrate to the United States. If you wish to pursue permanent residence and citizenship in the United States for someone who is not genetically related to you, you may have questions. You may be unfamiliar with the complex immigration process. A qualified lawyer can assist you with the immigration visa petition for foreign-born relatives.

Families are not always traditional. There are many different variations and configurations of a blended family. One example is when a parent remarries, and their new spouse adopts the children from a previous affair or marriage. In this situation, a step-parent can petition for their stepchildren or vice versa.

The step-parent/stepchild path to green card status can be complex and challenging. An attorney skilled in immigration law, such as Michael G. Murray, P.A., can help you with the process.

Is a Step-Parent Considered Immediate Family?


To determine whether to apply for a parents of US citizen green card, it is important to understand which family members are legally considered “immediate” and which are not. In immigration law, the legal term “immediate family” is defined to include the following:

  • Spouse
  • Parent or step-parent (subject to fulfillment of certain criteria)
  • Child or stepchild (subject to fulfillment of certain criteria)

If you are unsure whether a person is considered an immediate relative, an immigration lawyer from a reputable firm can help. Contact Michael G. Murray, P.A. for information and advice regarding step-parent or stepchild immigration.

How Can I Bring My Step-Parent to the USA?


Relocating to the United States is the dream of many, and when they arrive, they want nothing more than to bring the rest of their family with them. They may wonder if they can file a petition for an alien relative who is not related to them genetically. For example, can they sponsor their step-parent’s path to becoming a United States citizen? How difficult would that be?


Requirements for the Immigration of Step-Parents

The primary requirement for bringing a step-parent to the U.S. is that they need to have a qualifying relative in the U.S. who is willing to sponsor them. The rules are generally the same whether it is for a step-parent or a biological parent:

  • The sponsoring stepchild has to be a U.S. citizen.
  • The sponsoring stepchild has to be 21 years or older.

Apart from this, the stepchild’s age when the step-parent married their biological parent is also an important consideration. A step-parent should have married the child’s biological parent before the child turned 18. This requirement is tricky, and different marriage situations will lead to different petition outcomes.

If the step-parent had been living with the biological parent and raising the stepchild for years without marrying their partner until after the child is above 18, they will be deemed not to have met this requirement. Such arrangements may, however, be permitted in states that recognize common law marriage, such as Texas, allowing the couple to claim that they were married before the child turned 18. Otherwise, a civil marriage certificate is sufficient.

Immigration authorities also require proof of an ongoing parent-child relationship between the stepchild and the step-parent.


Immigration Process

The sponsoring stepchild has to file an alien relative petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before their step-parent can become a lawful permanent resident.

You may also need to file form Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to attest that you will be financially responsible for them until they can support themselves.

There is a waiting period after which the USCIS approves or denies the petition and informs you of the outcome. If the petition is approved and your step-parent is currently outside the US, they will be required to file form DS-260, their immigrant visa application. The USCIS will then send it to the National Visa Center, where they process it and ask for additional evidence from the step-parent, if necessary.

Can a Step-Parent Avail Immigration Benefits for a Stepchild?


Eligibility Criteria

The green card process for step-parents and adopted children differs slightly from the process involving spouses. Specific requirements must be met to file an immigrant petition for a stepchild as a step-parent. You will need to prove that the child is in your care and that you are financially providing for them.

As a step-parent, you can apply for an immigrant visa without having to adopt your stepchild. However, you should note that under U.S. law, the step-parent and the stepchild’s biological parent must be married before the child turns 18.

You can also file an immigrant visa petition for an adopted child as long as the child was younger than 16 when they were adopted and if other legal conditions for a valid adoption are met.



You can start the process by filing Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) with other required documents. You also be required to show evidence of your U.S. citizenship or demonstrate your status if you are a green card holder. Also, you have to provide proof of a relationship with the stepchild in question.

After the USCIS approves the Form I-130, two scenarios may arise:

Stepchild living outside the United States: In this case, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center by USCIS to commence consular processing.

Stepchild living in the United States: In this case, you may file form I-485 for adjustment of status.

The process is relatively faster for unmarried children under the age of 21.

Since an immigrant visa petition for an adopted child is more complicated than other lawful permanent residents, it is essential to gather all necessary documentation, such as the child’s birth certificate. With the assistance of Michael G. Murray, P.A., you can obtain valuable resources and additional assistance.

How Can an Immigration Attorney Help Step-Parents or Stepchildren?


There are various ways in which an immigration lawyer in Austin, Texas, can help step-parents and stepchildren who are seeking citizenship for their family members.

They can explain immigration law and help them to understand the process, which is often complicated and confusing. They can also help with the paperwork and might know special cases relevant to your situation.

They will also be able to provide you with any necessary advice and support throughout the process. For questions about an immigration matter, talk to an attorney. Call Michael G. Murray, P.A. today!

Coronavirus update: We are safely open for business! USCIS is still accepting new filings for all applications. Our office is offering virtual consultations for new clients so that you don't have to come to our office in person. Call us to schedule your virtual meeting today.
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