Child Visa to the United States

Visas for Children Explained Through Illustrative Examples

Child Visa Process - Illustrative Examples

Because the laws and procedures in obtaining permanent residency for your children are so complex, I think it may be very helpful to you if I illustrate the process by way examples.  Please note that these are only a few examples of a variety of different ways on how a child can immigrate to the USA.

Disclaimer. The following is intended only to give you a general idea of the topic. It is NOT intended to be legal advice. Everyone’s goals and situations are unique. Please consult an attorney to determine which method is best for your specific goals.

How to obtain a child visa to the U.S.

Example 1: U.S. Citizen Parent Petitions Child Living in the Philippines

Marites, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has a 12-year-old son, Paulo living in Cebu City, Philippines with his lola and lolo.  Now that Marites has fully established herself in the USA, she is ready to have her son join her. Marites contacted Attorney Avelino for guidance on how to bring her Filipinos son to the USA.  Attorney Avelino explained that obtaining permanent residency for Paulo could be described as a three-step process.

Step 1: Marites must file the Petition for Foreign Relative with USCIS

The first step is to prepare and file Marites' petition on behalf of her son Paulo to USCIS.  In the petition, Marites must prove she is a US citizen and that she is the mother of Paulo.

Step 2: Marites must submit the immigrant visa application to NVC

Once the petition is approved, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).  Once the NVC receives the case, Marites will need to pay the immigrant and affidavit of support fees.  Once those fees are paid, we can prepare and file Paulo's immigrant visa application as well as Marites' Affidavit of Support documentation.  The affidavit of support is used to prove Marites has the financial ability to support her son.

Step 3: Paulo must prepare and attend his immigrant visa interview at the US Embassy, Manila

Once the NVC has received the application and all necessary supporting documents, they will the schedule Paulo for his immigrant visa appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines.  Because he is a minor, Marites or a legal guardian must accompany Paulo to the interview appointment.

Once his appointment is scheduled, Paulo must obtain a medical exam at St. Luke's Medical Center in Ermita, Manila, Philippines. He should obtain his medical exam at least 5 days prior to his appointment to help ensure it is completed.  For applicants that live farther away from Manila in places like Mindanao or the Visayas, this is something to consider when planning for your appointments.  Many applicants will remain in Manila until their visa appointment after obtaining their medical exams.  Again, because he is a minor, Marites or a legal guardian must accompany Paulo to the medical exam.

On the day of his appointment, Paulo and Marites had to wait a couple of hours in the waiting room before he was seen by an officer.  The actual interview only took about 15 minutes.  After reviewing their file and documents, Marites and Paulo were asked simple and basic questions about their identity and relationship.

The officer then congratulated Marites and Paulo and told them that they should receive his visa within a couple of weeks.  Once Paulo enters the USA with his immigrant visa, he is already a permanent resident and his green card will be mailed to him in a couple of months.  While waiting for the green card, Paulo can use the stamp in his passport as proof he is a lawful permanent resident.

However, before a child can leave the Philippines on his/her immigrant visa, there are at least two things they must do.

They must register with the Commission on Filipino Overseas’ (CFO) and attend its guidance and counseling seminar.  The seminar aims to prepare them for the adjustments they will have to take by moving to the United States.  Emigrants aged 12 and below are exempted from attending the seminar but are still required to register with the CFO.

The parent must also check with the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development if the child will be needing a Travel Clearance Form for minors.  Generally, a travel clearance is necessary when a minor is traveling alone to a foreign country or traveling to a foreign country accompanied by a person other than his or her parents.

Once all the departure requirements are completed, the children are ready to depart the Philippines to be reunited with their family in the United States.

Example 2: Permanent Resident Parent Petitions Children Living in the Philippines

Maria obtained her permanent residency through an Immediate Relative petition filed by her eldest child who is a U.S. citizen.  Unfortunately, immigration laws did not permit Maria’s other children still living in the Philippines to be included in her petition.  The law does not permit dependents to be included in Immediate Relative petitions.  This means that Maria had to leave her other children behind while she immigrated to the United States.

Attorney Avelino explained to Maria that as a permanent resident she can file a petition for her unmarried children whether they are minors or adults.  However, her minor children will be issued their visas much faster than her children over 21 years of age.

Maria has three unmarried children.  Christian is 22, Justin is 20 and Grace is 15.

The children currently fall in the following categories:

Justin and Grace = Family Second Preference (F2A) Spouses or Children (Under 21 years of age) of Permanent Residents.

Christian = Family Second Preference (F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents.

Being in the F2A category, it might take Grace a couple of years to get her immigrant visa. Please keep in mind this is only a rough estimate for illustrative purposes only.

However, Justin’s case poses a problem because he will be over 21 years of age soon.  Therefore, he will most likely be transferred to the F2B category with his older brother Christian.

Being in the F2B category, it might take Justin and Christian around 11-12 years to get their immigrant visas. Please keep in mind this is only a rough estimate for illustrative purposes only.

Attorney Avelino warns Maria that if any of their children marry before immigrating, their petitions will be automatically revoked.

He also explains the sooner she petitions them, the sooner a priority date will be established for each of her children.  The priority date is basically their number in line to get a green card.  The priority date is established on the date that an immigrant petition is filed.

Once the petitions are approved, they are forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).  Once each of their priority dates becomes current (their number in line to get a green card is up), NVC will contact Maria for further processing, paying of fees and document submission related to the visa application of the child whose priority date has become current.  Once NVC completes its processing of each child, it will schedule that child for an interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines.

Each child, in turn, will need to prepare all the documents required for the interview.  Each child must have their visa application fees paid and medical examinations completed at St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC) prior to their interview.  Upon approval of his/her visa at the interview, his/her passport with the immigrant visa stamp is delivered to him/her by courier.

However, before each child can leave the Philippines on his/her immigrant visa, there are at least two things they must do.

They must register with the Commission on Filipino Overseas’ (CFO) and attend its guidance and counseling seminar.  The seminar aims to prepare them for the adjustments they will have to take by moving to the United States.  Emigrants aged 12 and below are exempted from attending the seminar but are still required to register with the CFO.

Maria must also check with the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development if Grace will be needing a Travel Clearance Form for minors.  Generally, a travel clearance is necessary when a minor is traveling alone to a foreign country or traveling to a foreign country accompanied by a person other than his or her parents.

Once all the departure requirements are completed, the children are ready to depart the Philippines to be reunited with their family in the United States.

Example 3: Permanent Resident Petitioner Children as a Permanent Resident But is Now a U.S. Citizen

Sarah recently became a U.S. citizen.  However, before she became a U.S. citizen, when she was still a permanent resident, she filed petitions for her two unmarried children.  Kevin who is presently 26 years old and Susan who is 19 years old.

Attorney Avelino explains to Sarah that when she naturalized (became a U.S. citizen), her F2A petition (spouse or minor child under 21 years of age of a permanent resident) for Susan automatically converted to an Immediate Relative petition.  Since this visa category is not subject to the visa quota system, a visa is now automatically available to her daughter Susan.  With the help of Attorney Avelino, the National Visa Center (NVC) is notified and Susan is scheduled for her Immigrant Visa Interview.

For Kevin, however, Attorney Avelino explains that for F2B applicants (unmarried son/daughter 21 years of age or over of a permanent resident), his F2B petition was automatically converted to the F1 category (adult sons or daughters of U.S. citizens) retaining the original priority date.

Attorney Avelino further explains that because of the unique circumstances for Filipinos, the waiting period for the F1 category is actually longer than the F2B category!

However, under the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), Kevin can request an exemption from the automatic conversion of the visa category from F2B to F1 by submitting to USCIS a written statement that he elects to have such conversion revoked.  With the help of Attorney Avelino, Kevin submits the request for exemption of the automatic conversion which would have delayed his case for several more years.

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