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Can I add my children to my immigrant visa petition on the day of my interview? If so, is there a difference between biological children and children that I have raised?, August 10

ASK THE CONSUL

Can I add my children to my immigrant visa petition on the day of my interview?  If so, is there a difference between biological children and children that I have raised?

If you have an F1, F2, F3 or F4 visa petition, you can add your children to your petition, as long as they are younger than 21 years old and are either your children by birth, your step-children of a marriage that occurred before the child was 18, or children legally adopted before the age of 16.  Additionally, you have two travel options for your children.  They can either travel with you or after you, but are required to arrive in the United States prior to their twenty-first birthday and before you naturalize to become an American citizen.  If you would like your children to travel after you, you have to bring a legalized birth certificate of each child on the day of your visa interview.  If you would like the children to travel with you, you will need more documents.  For a complete list, please visit the Embassy website at: http://spanish.santodomingo.usembassy.gov

Regarding adoption, this is different than merely declaring the children as yours on the child's birth certificate.  Adoption is a legal process where one set of parents relinquish their custody rights, and another set of parents gains custody rights of the child. 

For immigration purposes to the United States of America, adopted children have the same rights as biological children would, as long as the children were adopted before their sixteenth birthday. 

Consular officials often encounter cases where relatives try to add children to their petition that are neither blood relatives nor adopted.  If Consular officials determine that the relatives knew that these children were neither blood related nor adopted and willfully withheld this information, everyone on the visa application could be denied a visa, and the parents could become ineligible for visas in the future.