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Can I Petition for Undisclosed Child?

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Can I petition for my child if I did not include them on prior applications? Hi, I'm Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our offices in St. Louis, Missouri and San Diego, California.

Today's question comes from Erica in our immigrant home Facebook group. Erica's husband just received his green card based on his marriage to her, a U.S Citizen, and now he wants to know if he can apply for his daughter. His daughter lives overseas and he wants to get her an immigrant visa and eventually lawful permanent resident status in the United States.

Now, here's the interesting thing. Erica tells me in the group that her husband didn't always know about this child and just found out about it, that it was his child recently. Now, this is very interesting to me because I have actually heard this story probably 15, 20 times in my career. So that's about once a year that someone has come to me and said, "Well, I just got citizenship," or, "I just got my green card and now I want to petition for my child who lives overseas who I neglected to include on all my prior applications."

Now, this is something that has always bothered USCIS. And if you think about it, if just one immigration lawyer has seen this once or twice a year for the last 15 years, imagine how many times USCIS has seen this scenario. So, I think that Erica's husband is going to have a problem trying to bring that child to the United States.

Now, there's always a story and there was here too. I'm not saying I don't believe people, I'm just saying that there's a story that the parentage of the child was in dispute, that the husband did not know that this was his child until after he got his green card.

Now, that's exactly what I've heard in all these other cases, so I think USCIS is going to be very, very suspicious of this. And if they think that you lied to them or that you were hiding this child when you got your green card or got your citizenship, it's entirely possible that they might come back and try to take away your immigration benefit.

So, I think this is a real problem for Erica's husband. I think that if he now tries to add that child to a future application, that's going to be a real problem not only for her ability to come to the United States, but also it's going to put his green card in peril and might keep him from getting his citizenship.

So, I think, Erica, if you're going to explore this possibility, you really need to talk to an immigration lawyer. Not listing children or prior family members on an application can really cause a lot of trouble. And I think you really need to think it through if you are thinking about going ahead with filing for any new benefits that would list this child.

Obviously you always have to tell the truth. So there's probably even an argument about whether he should ever apply for citizenship because if he's working with a lawyer like us, we're going to make him tell the truth. And if he tells the truth, he's going to have to explain why he didn't list this child previously.

Now, if there's a good explanation for it, that's a different story. But in my experience, these cases are very problematic and you really need to be careful and think through all the possible ramifications and consequences, all the bad things that might happen if you do file this additional application.

So, hopefully this makes sense. Hopefully everything will be okay. If you have questions about this, if this part of the process confuses you, feel free to give us a call at (314) 961-8200. That's our main office line. You can email us at [email protected]. Our leads team will follow up with that.

Of course, we have our Facebook group which is called Immigrant Home, and we answer questions in there every day. We have about 4,000 members and we have quite a lively discussion in Immigrant Home. We also have our YouTube channel that you can subscribe to and whenever we make a video like this one you'll get updated.

And then of course, every Tuesday and Thursday, usually at noon, Central Time, I'm live in the Facebook group and on the YouTube channel answering as many questions as I can in one hour. I think I might start keeping track of how many I actually answer per hour. That would be great. All right, everybody. Have a great weekend or a great week and we'll see you next time. Thanks a lot.


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