Dear Mrs Walker-Huntington,
My girlfriend's adopted mother started the process of filing for her. We have been together for the past seven years and we share a child. We are planning to get married. If we get married, will this affect the filing process? Can her mother file for all three of us to live in the United States (US) if we are married?
A US citizen adoptive parent can file for children in two separate scenarios. First, if the child was adopted as an orphan before age 16 and the adoptive parent meets the requirement to prove that he can provide proper parental care for the child, the parent can apply for residency for the child. If you are single, you must be at least 25 years old to file for an adopted orphan, and if you are married, both spouses must sign the form to file for the adopted orphan.
An orphan is described as someone who is adopted from state care, has no parents because the parents have died, or has been abandoned.
If the child was adopted from the birth parent(s), US immigration laws require that the adopted child be under 16 years of age when adopted and that the adopted parents live with the child two years before or after the adoption. This requirement, unfortunately, prevents many persons from filing for children who they have loved and cared for over the years, but they cannot fulfil the two-year residency requirement.
If your girlfriend's adopted mother fits into any of these two scenarios, she will be approved to file for your girlfriend as if she were her birth mother. This means that as a US citizen, she will be able to file for her married daughter and her family. However, if the immigration law changes, as it has been proposed by the US Senate, parents will no longer be able to file for their married sons and daughters.
It would, therefore, be in your best interest to consult with an immigration attorney to see if in fact the petition for your girlfriend will have a chance to be approved. If the lawyers advise that the petition is approvable, it would be in your best interest to marry your girlfriend as soon as possible so that you can be protected by the existing immigration law, and your entire family would be able to migrate at the same time.
Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States, and family, criminal, and personal-injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator, and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida. firstname.lastname@example.org