Immigration And Criminal Defense Lawyers

Can you bring a child to the U.S. without proof of parentage?

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2024 | Immigration Law |

Whether you’re a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident with a green card, bringing one of your children to the U.S. can be a challenge. At the very least, it requires patience – and a lot of paperwork to secure a family-based visa. 

It’s even more of a challenge if you don’t have any documentation of your parental relationship to the child. Of course, this is more often the case for men than for women. However, depending on where your child was born, even a birth certificate may have been destroyed during war or some other way.

If you’re a man who has a child with a woman you weren’t married to, your name may not be on the birth certificate. You may never have officially been acknowledged anywhere as the father, even if you and the mother agree that you are.

Whatever the situation, this lack of documentation doesn’t have to prevent them from getting a visa. You’ll just need to have other acceptable evidence of your relationship. Note that it’s generally easier to get a visa for an unmarried child under 21 than for older and/or married children. 

What other evidence of parenthood is acceptable?

If you don’t have a birth certificate with your name on it as the parent, determine what other documentation is available that shows your relationship. Even if you have a history of letters, emails (with their other parent about the child and/or directly with the child), payments for school and other expenses, enough of those over the years may be satisfactory to convince the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of your relationship. Even photos can be helpful.

What about DNA?

If the USCIS doesn’t accept the evidence, you can ask if you and your child can take DNA tests. This is a simple, non-invasive test (swabbing the inside of the mouth). However, it’s not cheap, and both tests must be done at accredited locations. Test results that show a 99.5% certainty of a parent/child relationship are acceptable to the USCIS as proof of parentage.

If this situation applies to you, your best first step is to get experienced legal guidance to guide you through the process and help things go as smoothly as possible.