Plan a Different Path: U.S. Citizen Children Turning 21 Most Likely Won’t Provide Legal Residency for Immigrant Parents who Entered Unlawfully

Plan a Different Path: U.S. Citizen Children Turning 21 Most Likely Won’t Provide Legal Residency for Immigrant Parents who Entered Unlawfully

The majority of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. who entered without permission (illegally, unlawfully, without a valid entry document) believe that their U.S. citizen child can petition for their parents’ residency. There are few pathways to become a legal permanent resident of this country, and it is crucial to move through life working towards a legal option that gives you the highest likelihood of success. Instead, many pass along rumors within communities or trust the “news” they hear, and rely on it to their detriment – never talking to a lawyer to confirm whether this assumed plan is actually possible under U.S. Immigration Law.

At STERN Law, LLC, We Defend the American Dream® and have devoted our careers to ensuring that people born outside of this country get the chance to live out this Dream.  The idea of petitioning for an undocumented parent at Age 21 is a half-truth and misconception because it will not often result in a green card. Unfortunately, many of these falsehoods are spewed as talking points and propaganda by elected representatives that are broadcast and replayed nationwide. 

For this reason, we wanted to address a widespread myth that  encourages some people to develop an immigration plan that will not end successfully. We don’t want that for you or your parents; we don’t want that for anyone. 

Breaking Down the Myth of Legal Residency for Parents of 21 Yr Old U.S. Citizen 

There is a divisive and ignorant term that you may have heard as an “anchor baby.” This refers to the accusation that that non-U.S. citizens have children in the United States to pursue family-based immigration through their kids. One reason this myth is so convincing is because it is partly based on truth: Under the U.S. Constitution, children born here are U.S. citizens. Over 4 million children, who are U.S. citizens, live with at least one undocumented parent. Why haven’t the parents become legal residents themselves?

Although you as a US Citizen son or daughter can file the I-130 Immediate Relative Petition for your parents at age 21, the petition itself does not provide legal residency. Immigration laws require that a person entered the U.S. with valid permission in order for legal residency (to receive a green card) to be allowed. When a person has remained in the U.S. without legal permission for more than 1 year and then departs the U.S. (to receive Immigrant Visa at the consulate or for any other reason), they will trigger a “10 Year Bar” or punishment which will block their return to the U.S. for at least 10 years. There is no waiver or “forgiveness” of this 10 Year Bar unless the non-citizen has a U.S. citizen or Legal Resident spouse or parent who would suffer an extreme hardship without their relative here in the U.S. with legal status. Most often, the 21 year old Petitioning son or daughter is the only immediate relative with legal status, and this son/daughter relationship does not qualify for the waiver or “forgiveness” of the 10 Year Bar. To put this simply, the petitioning son/daughter can file the I-130 for an Immigrant Visa, but their parent likely will not ever be able to leave the U.S. to claim that visa at the consulate because they will be blocked from re-entering for at least 10 years.

The Myth Leads to Path of False Hope and Improper Planning 

It is very difficult to deliver this harsh reality to families – parents and sons or daughters who have waited decades believing that they could finally live a life securely out of the shadows. This myth can lead to the feeling of shattered dreams, especially when you spend decades building plans on a foundation that was never solid. The myth can also cause anger and animosity toward non-U.S. citizens, if some Americans think that having a child in the U.S is simply an easy path to legal immigration status. People who wish to live here are not trying to take; they are fighting for opportunities that often are not legally possible within our current immigration laws – which have not been amended in over twenty years. 

Our goal is not to dishearten you but rather you empower you. For some people, there are other ways to pursue lawful immigration status—but first, you need to understand what options are available to you. The only reliable way to understand your true options is to seek consultation with a trusted, reputable immigration lawyer now. Waiting to talk with a lawyer until your child is 21presents several challenges and possible risks.

Additionally, several things can happen during all of  that time that may make you ineligible. 

Shift the  Perspective to NOW

We aim to help you obtain your American dream effectively and in the way you deserve.. you don’t have to wait twenty years to begin your immigration journey. There are several other routes, and we can assist you with planning properly after we understand your specific situation and circumstances. Knowledge is power, and STERN Law, LLC can help you change the course of your life. Book your call with us today and get started.  


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