The Immigration Act allows United States citizens or permanent residents to petition for permanent residence for certain qualifying family members.

A parent petitioning for a child can only do so in this category if the child is under 21-years-old and unmarried.  (See order of preference for details regarding other immigration categories).



The definition of a child has undergone different interpretations, especially in the area of legitimate and illegitimate children. 

A step-child is eligible as long as the parent-child relationship was established when the child was under the age of 18 years.


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