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How difficult is it to petition my kids born out of wedlock?

By Atty. Paul Choi

Paul Choi is an immigration attorney practicing in Encino, California. As a public service, he will answer all questions regarding immigration and naturalization for free either by mail, email at pchoi@pchoilaw.com, on the phone, or in person or you may contact his administrator, Philip Abramowitz at 818 714-2226, or pabramowitz@pchoilaw.com. The following is one such question and the answer by Mr. Choi.

Question: I am a U.S. citizen by naturalization. When I immigrated here in 1998, I did not mention that I had two illegitimate children because I was afraid that I would not get my green card through my parents. Now that I am here I regret not petitioning for them and I want to bring them here now. How difficult is it to petition my kids now because they are born out of wedlock? Will this cause me problems with the USCIS?

Answer: You raise an issue that is not uncommon. Not only would the existence of an illegitimate child not affect a person’s pending petition by a parent, but a person who is a citizen or permanent resident can also petition his illegitimate child. Under immigration law, an illegitimate child is also considered a person’s “child” for immigration purposes. The fact that a person was not married, does not somehow prevent the child from immigrating. Both a mother and a father can petition an illegitimate child. However, in the case of a father, he must show that there was a bona fide parent/child relationship between himself and the child, while the child was still under 21 years of age and unmarried and that he took steps to attempt to legitimate the child.

A “bona fide parent/child relationship” means that the father needs to prove that he maintained some form of ongoing contact and relationship with his child. The law was written to make sure that the father maintains some kind of contact with the child through the years, and that the father demonstrates emotional or financial ties, or some form of active concern by for the child’s support, education, and welfare.

Among the things a father can show to demonstrate an ongoing relationship would include remittances back home of money, cancelled checks, money order receipts, or other documents, showing that the father is demonstrating his financial responsibility for the child, medical insurance records, school records, letters or cards between the father and the child, phone bills showing that there has been phone contact between the father and the child, affidavits from friends, neighbors, or school officials, or from any other person who might have knowledge of this parent/child relationship.

The bottom line is that a person can petition his illegitimate child and the process is not difficult.

If you have an illegitimate child whom you want to bring here, I suggest that you seek the advice of a reputable attorney who can analyze your situation and assist you in connection with petitioning your illegitimate child. My office has successfully handled many cases involving parents who petition their illegitimate children, and they are now happily reunited as a complete family. A petition for an illegitimate child is even possible if the father is “undeclared” on the birth certificate as long as he can prove a parent/child relationship existed.


Atty. Paul Choi will answer all questions regarding immigration, naturalization and deportation defense for FREE. Contact him at pchoi@pchoilaw.com or at 818 714-2226. He is located at 16000 Ventura Blvd, Ste. 1201, Encino, California 91436.

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