How can a child legalize their undocumented parents?
Many immigrants visiting the United States either legally or illegally are under the misconception that bearing children in this country automatically qualifies them for legal status as well. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The truth is any child born in this country, unless they are a child of a foreign diplomat or a Native American sovereign tribe, are entitled to citizenship under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. However, their parents are not included in that Amendment.
Because a child born here is a US citizen, he can petition to bring his parents into the country. However, they must be 21 years old before they can petition on behalf of their parents. A child younger than this age is of no benefit. One of the requirements of petitioning on behalf of their parents is that they must be able to prove they have enough income or assets to support them once they enter the country. They begin the process by filing Form I-130 proving their relationship with their parents. If their parents are already in the country legally, they can simultaneously file Form I-485 used to adjust an immigrant’s status to permanent resident.
This will not work, however, if one or both parents are in this country unlawfully. That is they are here after their visas expired and refused to leave or they entered the country illegally to begin with. In this case, there are many more steps that need to be taken.
If parents have a child in the United States and are here in a lawful manner, meaning they have passed inspection and have a student or work visa, they must follow the visa guidelines until the child turns 21 and can petition on their behalf. If during the child’s growing years the visitation rights become invalid and the parent(s) stay in this country they risk deportation. If they are deported there will be an order barring them from reentry into this country. The penalty could be for between three and ten years depending on their circumstances. If any crime is committed by a parent, they will be deported and banned permanently from reentering the United States.
There are changes taking place within this country by amending immigration laws mostly by executive orders from the White House and they all are being contested in the courts. There are plenty of laws on the books currently not being followed. Many feel the laws are antiquated and actually conflict with the intent of the 14th amendment, which was originally designed to help the slaves obtain citizenship status. One thing is for sure and that is, there will be a change taking place in immigration practices within this country eventually. If you are a child of immigrant parents and want to bring them to this country do it now before these changes take place. In addition, be sure to use a reputable law firm to assist. You may only have one opportunity to bring your parents home.