Children of a US citizen are treated differently depending on their age and marital status, and under certain circumstances, may already be US citizens.
Minor children of a US citizen include natural children (who might be US citizens), adopted children and step-children. These children would be considered “immediate relatives” meaning that a visa would be immediately available for them to immigrate. The parent must file an I-130 petition for each of them. If they are abroad, they would process at the US Embassy or Consulate once USCIS has approved the I-130 and the Department of State has collected all the necessary documents and fees, they would apply for an immigrant visa at the US Embassy or Consulate. Upon entry into the US, they would be processed for the green card.
Unmarried adult children of a US citizens fall under the F1 (Family First Preference) category. This category is backlogged, which means that the child will have to wait for his/her priority date to become current before they can immigrate. The process is described below.
Married children of US citizens fall under the F3 (Family Third Preference) category. This category is backlogged, which means that the child will have to wait for his/her priority date to become current before they can immigrate.
For adult and married children, the US citizen needs to file an I-130 to start the process. The date of filing, as reflected on the USCIS receipt, is the priority date that will determine when a visa becomes available for these children.
While waiting for the priority date to become available, children in the F-1 and F-3 categories must either maintain legal immigration status in the US, or must wait out the priority dates abroad.
Once the priority date becomes current, the F-1 and F-3 children would either process abroad for an immigrant visa, or if in the US, would file for Adjustment of Status.
The laws applying to children of US citizens are highly complex. It is therefore highly advisable that you at least consult with an immigration attorney. Our Los Angeles immigration lawyers are available to advise you.