How to Keep a Child in the U.S. After Their 21st Birthday

If you are currently in the U.S. on a visa, and have a child under the age of 21 on your visa as well, then there are a few things you should know.

As we discussed in the previous entry, your child will be required to obtain their own visa when they turn 21, and if they have not started the steps by their birthday, they will be required to leave the country within 10 days, and not return to visit family or go to school.

However, they will be allowed to stay if they have taken the following steps:

If the child is in college, he/she can apply for a student visa (F-1). If he/she gets a student visa before the day of the 21st birthday, then studies can continue without any interruption at all. Be warned though, there are a few things to be extremely careful to watch out for. Make sure that you apply for the student visa as early as possible. Approval for a student visa can take up to 4 months or more after the immigration papers have been mailed in. If a student had filed for a student visa but not been approved by the date of their 21st birthday, they are allowed to remain in the U.S. to wait the decision, but they will be required to stop attending classes immediately.

The other option for remaining in the U.S. would be the parent filing for a green card on behalf of the child. This should be done years in advance, and is an extremely tricky portion of immigration law. If you are planning on pursuing this option, be sure to speak with a qualified immigration attorney before you take any steps.

Do not wait until after the child turns 21 to file for a green card, though. The student will not be eligible under the parent’s filing, and will have to wait on average 7-10 years to get their own green card.

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