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What are the options to help a stepchild gain citizenship?

On Behalf of | Apr 2, 2022 | Family Immigration |

Part of the joy of becoming a U.S. citizen is that you may help your children become citizens as well. Not all family situations are the same, however. You might have recently married someone who already has a child from a previous relationship. This would make you a stepparent. You may wonder if your stepchild can attain citizenship.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, the answer is yes, but it takes certain conditions to help a stepchild share your dream of U.S. citizenship.

Petition for a stepchild

First, you may want to bring your stepchild to the United States if he or she is not in the country already. If you are a citizen of the U.S. or a lawful permanent resident, you may petition for your stepchild to immigrate. However, you must have married the birth parent of your stepchild before your stepchild turns 18 years old. You may file a Form I-130 with the USCIS to begin the immigration process.

Adopt a stepchild

A stepchild cannot acquire U.S. citizenship through your stepparent relationship even if you are a citizen. This may change if you adopt your stepchild. If you are an American citizen, your stepchild may become eligible to gain citizenship through your relationship as an adoptive parent. This could happen if you are a citizen by birth or if you have gone through the naturalization process.

Your stepchild can become naturalized

If you do not adopt your stepchild and your stepchild’s birth parent does not become a U.S. citizen, another option is for your stepchild to wait to become an adult and then apply for naturalization. Your stepchild may still live with you in the United States as a lawful permanent resident, but the benefits of citizenship will wait for another day.

The life situations of immigrants will differ, but the good news is that there are different options to accommodate various families who come to the United States.