What is the requirement for stepchild immigration sponsorship from a previous marriage for U.S. green card and citizenship?
Yes, a stepchild from a previous marriage can be eligible for stepchild immigration sponsorship if the stepparent and child retained a relationship and the previous marriage was terminated by death as opposed to divorce or legal separation.
Immigration and Naturalization Act – stepchild immigration sponsorship
[INA 101(b)(1)(B), 8 U.S.C. 1101(b)(1)(B)]: Lists a step-child, as long as the child was under 18 when step-relationship was created, meaning that the natural parent and stepparent were married before the child turned 18 years of age as eligible for sponsorship. The code goes on to define the step relationship as terminating when a marriage ends, especially if it ends in divorce. [Matter of Simicevic, AFM 21.4 (d)(2)(B)] However, under certain circumstances, a step-relationship may continue after the death of the natural parent or even after the legal separation or divorce of the step-parent and the natural parent if there is an ongoing relationship between the step-parent and the step-child for stepchild immigration sponsorship process. If the marriage ends in annulment, however, the step relationship is deemed to have never existed because, legally, the marriage never existed.
Link to INA 101(b)(1)
Immigration Law Case – stepchild immigration sponsorship
If the step relation continued after the death of the natural parent and that was the reason for the termination of the petitioner’s marriage then the step child from a previous marriage can still be eligible for stepchild immigration sponsorship. This issue was determined in Matter of Pagnerre.
Matter of Pagnerre
In Matter of Pagnerre the petitioner a naturalized citizen asserted that her step-daughter, a native of Yugoslavia was entitled to an immigrant visa for Stepchild immigration sponsorship . The petitioner married the beneficiary’s natural father when the beneficiary was 8 years old. In this case the marriage creating the relationship was ended due to the death of the beneficiary’s natural father. After the marriage ended the petitioner immigrated to the United States where she remarried. The petitioner visited the beneficiary abroad in 1958, 1963 and 1967, while the beneficiary visited the petitioner in the United States in 1963 and 1966. In this situation the board held that this was sufficient evidence to show that there was a continuing relationship between the petitioner and the beneficiary stepchild immigration sponsorship purposes. The board ruled that because of the continuing relationship the step-child was eligible to be sponsored for an immigrant visa.
The precedent set in Matter of Pagnerre and further expanded upon in Matter of Mowers states that for a relationship between a step-parent and step-child to be definitively severed the separation between the step parent and the natural parent must be by a legal separation not death or only physical separation. An immigration attorney can be useful in helping you understand your rights as a sponsor. If you want to sponsor a step child from a previous marriage there are immigration lawyers in Springfield Va, located just minutes from Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax City who specialize in petitioning the USCIS in the sponsorship of former step-children and other family members.
Link to Matter of Pagnerre https://www.justice.gov/sites/default/files/eoir/legacy/2012/08/27/2079.pdf