Can adopted children petition biological family members?

Can adopted children petition biological family members?

Dear Atty. Gurfinkel:

Before I was 16 years old, I was adopted and petitioned by my aunt, and got my green card through her petition. I am now a US citizen, and would like to petition my biological mother. Is that possible?

Very truly yours,

Dear B.N.:

When a child is adopted before their 16th birthday, and receives an immigration benefit as a result of that adoption (such as being petitioned and obtaining a green card), they are considered the “child” of the adoptive parents. This means, the adopted child cannot petition for his or her biological parents or siblings, and they cannot receive any immigration benefit from them.

In your case, since you obtained your green card because of an adoption, you cannot petition your biological parent, or your biological brothers or sisters.

However, it is still possible for an adopted child to re-establish a “petitionable relationship” with their natural parents even if there was an adoption, provided, (a) the child received no immigration benefit because of the adoption; (b) the adoption was lawfully terminated (under a court order rescinding the adoption); and (c) the natural parent-child relationship has been re-established. For example, a person may have been adopted, but later obtained a green card through marriage, and not through the adoption. They could go back to court, have the adoption rescinded or terminated, at which point it could be possible to petition their biological parents.

In addition, there is a difference between a person being petitioned or obtaining a green card as an adopted child and as a stepchild. If a person obtained their green card as a stepchild (their parent married a US citizen before their 18th birthday, and the citizen stepparent petitioned them without adopting them), that child could still petition his or her other natural parent.

If these situations apply to you or someone you know, you should seek the advice of a reputable immigration attorney.

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