Lawful Permanent Residence ("Green Card")
A "green card" gives you official immigration status (Lawful Permanent Residency) in the United states.
Citizenship is one of the most coveted gifts that the U.S. government can bestow, and the most important immigration benefit that USCIS can grant. Most people become U.S. citizens in one of two ways:
By birth, either within the territory of the United States or to U.S. citizen parents, or
In addition, in 2000, Congress passed the Child Citizenship Act (CCA), which allows any child under the age of 18 who is adopted by a U.S. citizen and immigrates to the United States to acquire immediate citizenship.
Visit the US
A nonimmigrant is a foreign national seeking to enter the United States (U.S.) temporarily for a specific purpose. Nonimmigrants enter the U.S. for a temporary period of time, and once in the U.S. are restricted to the activity or reason for which their visa was issued. They may have more than one type of nonimmigrant visa but are admitted in only one status.
General requirements for foreign nationals seeking temporary admission include, but are not limited to, the following:
- The purpose of the visit must be temporary;
- The foreign national must agree to depart at the end of his/her authorized stay or extension;
- The foreign national must be in possession of a valid passport;
- A foreign residence must be maintained by the foreign national, in most instances;
- The foreign national may be required to show proof of financial support;
- The foreign national must be admissable or have obtained a waiver for any ground of inadmissability;
- The foreign national must abide by the terms and conditions of admission.
U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. If you are not a citizen or a lawful permanent resident, you may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to prove you may work in the United States.
USCIS issues Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) in the following categories:
- EAD: This document proves you are allowed to work in the United States.
Renewal EAD: You should apply for a renewal EAD six months before your original EAD expires.
Replacement EAD: This document replaces a lost, stolen, or mutilated EAD. A replacement EAD also replaces an EAD that was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.
Interim EAD: If USCIS does not approve or deny your EAD application within 90 days (within 30 days for an asylum applicant; note: asylum applicants are eligible to file for EADs only after waiting 150 days from the date they filed their properly completed original asylum applications), you may request an interim EAD document.
Adopting children from all over the world has steadily increased in the past decade. Over 20,000 inter-country adoptions are taking place per year in addition to the more than 200,000 foreign-adopted children already living in the U.S.
Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with inter-country adoption processes before they begin filing applications for a particular child. A good place to start is with the booklet, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopted Children.
Prospective adoptive parents may find the services of an adoption agency helpful for guidance and assistance with the immigration of orphans and adopted children. While USCIS cannot recommend specific agencies, we strongly advise prospective adoptive parents to seek out a reputable agency with established foreign adoption experience and/or competent legal representation in their efforts to bring foreign-born orphans into the United States. One place to start looking for an agency is through the adoption advocacy community.
There are two legal ways to bring an adopted child into the country. Please review the differences, as they are important to your successful adoption.
- Immigration/Adoption of child based on 2-years residence through submitting Form I-130: If you adopt a child before the child turns 16 (or 18, as described below), and you live with the child for two years as the childĄ¯s primary caregiver, then you may file an I-130 petition for an alien relative. The petition may be filed after the 16th (or 18th if a sibling) birthday, and the two years may culminate after the 16th (or 18th) birthday. (Please note that, generally, all qualifying criteria must be established BEFORE the child may enter the U.S.)
- Immigration/Adoption of an orphan through submitting Form I-600: If you adopt or intend to adopt a child who meets the legal definition of an orphan, you may petition for that child at any time prior to the childĄ¯s 16th (or 18th, as described below) birthday, even if the adoption takes place subsequently (and in certain cases, the adoption does not occur until the child comes to the U.S.).
If you are interested in adopting a child from a particular country, we suggest that you consult the Department of State Website web pages addressing Country-Specific Adoption and Important Notices.
These materials alert prospective adoptive parents to conditions that may develop or already exist in foreign adoption cases. International adoption is essentially a private legal matter between a private individual (or couple) who wishes to adopt, and a foreign court, which operates under that country's laws and regulations. U.S. authorities cannot intervene on behalf of prospective parents with the courts in the country where the adoption takes place. The doption of a foreign-born orphan does not automatically guarantee the child's eligibility to immigrate to the United States. Also, the adoptive parent needs to be aware of U.S. immigration law and legal regulatory procedures. An orphan cannot legally immigrate to the United States without USCIS processing.
Adopting Older Children - "Aging Out" of Eligibility to Immigrate Through Adoption.
If you are considering adopting an older child, you should be aware of the age limits on eligibility for adoptions and immigration, regardless of whether or not your state laws permit the adoption of older children (or even adults).
U.S. law allows the adoption and immigration of children who are under 16 years of age, with two exceptions:
- Biological siblings of a child adopted by the same parents may be adopted if under 18 years of age; and
- Orphans over the age of 16 may be adopted, as long as the I-600 petition was filed on their behalf before their 16th birthday (or in the case of an orphan who is the sibling of a child adopted by the same parents, before their 18th birthday).