Under federal law, U.S. citizens are allowed to petition for green cards for certain relatives. This includes parents. Typically, U.S. citizens that are over 21 are eligible to pursue a green card for parents who are from another country.

Does this only extend to birth parents? No, it does not. Citizens generally are allowed to petition for adoptive parents and step-parents to be granted permanent resident status.

As a note, there are some added required supporting documents for petitions for non-biological parents.

For cases involving adoptive parents, this includes:

  • A copy of the adoption certificate (which generally needs to show the adoption occurred prior to the citizen turning 16)
  • A statement on when and where the citizen lived with the adoptive parent

For cases involving step-parents, this includes:

  • A copy of the step-parent’s marriage certificate (which generally needs to show that the marriage occurred while the petitioning citizen was under 18)
  • Copies of documents related to the ending of any previous marital relationship the step-parent or the birth parent he or she is married to was in

Failure to include the right support documents is among the things that could quickly derail efforts to petition for a green card for family members. So, it can be very important for U.S. citizens to understand what is needed on this front given the specific relatives they are petitioning for.

U.S. citizens with relatives from foreign countries can be from all different kinds of family situations. What such a person’s specific situation is can affect his or her family immigration goals and the options she or she has for achieving them. Immigration attorneys can assist U.S. citizens with their family immigration needs.