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What is the process to adopt an ilegal minor immigrant who entered the US in June 2012?

Lancaster, CA |

He is 16 years old, his parents are alive in our country. He was detained by immigration in June 2012. I sponsored him to come and live with my family, I paid no bond to received the child. I want to adopt him to make him legal.

Attorney Answers 4


You can adopt him ... but it will not help with immigration, the adoption needed to occur before he was 16 ... sorry.

PROFESSOR OF IMMIGRATION LAW for over 10 years -- This blog posting is offered for informational purposes only. It does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.

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I agree with my colleague’s answer that if you adopt a child past when the child turns 16, you will not be able to petition for immigration benefits for him based on the adoption. There is one exception to this rule, which is that if you are adopting a sibling group, and one is below 16 and the other is over 16 but under 18, then you would be able to petition for immigration benefits for both children. Additionally, you should be careful in going forward with this because adoption for the purposes of immigration is considered fraud. That being said, though, from your question, it does not seem like that is the only reason you wanted to adopt him. It sounds like you have bonded with this child and would like him to become part of your family.
If it is true that you would like to adopt him for family unity purposes, there are other avenues you can follow to help him and welcome him into your family. First, it sounds like he was abandoned by his biological parents. Is that accurate? If so, you could consider going into Juvenile Court and asking for a private dependency hearing. The court will then determine if he will be found dependant on the Juvenile Court because of abandonment, abuse or neglect. Additionally, the court will determine if you can gain legal custody over him to help him. If you gain custody, you will be able to enroll him in school and get medical benefits under your health care plan. Second, he can use that dependency order to file for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status with USCIS. This is immigration relief for children who were brought to this country and then abused or abandoned by their parents. If the SIJ petition is approved, he will be eligible to receive legal permanent residency status (i.e. a green card). Please note that the order must contain certain wording, so I highly suggest that you consult with an immigration attorney that also has experience in juvenile court and adoption.
If you would like to discuss the process in detail, my office would be happy to talk with you. We regularly give guidance on this type of case, and we offer free 15 minute consultations to potential clients. You can find a list of other experienced immigration attorneys through

Good luck!
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I am licensed to practice solely in Georgia, and do not intend to give legal advice or create a lawyer/client relationship. Please consult an attorney in your state for detailed advice on your legal question.

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4 lawyers agree


An adoption will not get him any immigration benefits as he is already 16 years old.

J Charles Ferrari Eng & Nishimura 213.622.2255 The statement above is general in nature and does not constitute legal advice, as not all the facts are known. You should retain an attorney to review all the facts specific to your case in order to receive advise specific to your case. The statement above does not create an attorney/client relationship. Answers on Avvo can only be general ones, as specific answers would require knowledge of all the facts. As such, they may or may not apply to the question.

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I agree with Ms. Gordon. To follow up on what she said here is a link to a form that you can use to commence juvenile dependency proceedings.

The foregoing is not legal advice. I am sharing helpful information that should be the start of your research, not the end. Each case is unique. Once I learn your case in detail then I can give you actual legal advice. The information that I have shared with you does not create an attorney-client relationship between us. Such a relationship will require an agreement and a retainer.

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