The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), along with the United States Code (U.S.C.), define “child” as it pertains to immigration law. The law serves as a sort of guideline for any person who wishes to enter the United States with minor children. The definition of child, an unmarried person under 21 years of age, is further detailed:
- Born in Wedlock: if the child was born to two married people, it can be proven that the child is related to the parents via a birth certificate, paternity test or certain records.
- Born Out-of-Wedlock: the child was born to two people who were not married at the time of the child’s birth. There are rules that apply to this situation that deal with legal custody and parental rights.
- Step-Child: if the child is under the age of 18 when a United States Citizen marries the child’s legal parent, the child may have an easier route to citizenship based upon the step-child/step-parent relationship.
- Legitimated Child: this is defined as “the act of putting a child born out-of-wedlock in the same legal position as a child born in wedlock.”
- Adopted Child: an adopted child must be under the age of 16 and have lived with the adoptive parent for at least two years. If a sibling is subsequently adopted, they must be under the age of 18.
Any person in Washington state who desires to stay in the country legally and with their children should seek the advice of an experienced immigration attorney.