Is a US Green Card holder able to travel with their underage child from Canada to the United States to live? They will have a passport, birth certificate, and travel consent letter by the Canadian parent. Also, the US Green Card holder would be accompanying the minor. The Green Card holder would start the immigration process for the child once they are here.

I'm mainly concerned if the child would be stopped at the US border if they only have a one way ticket and it's in the middle of the school year.

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    Does the child have the necessary documents to prove they have permission to live in the US? – DJClayworth Oct 21 at 20:05
  • What travel documents will the child have? – Zach Lipton Oct 21 at 20:06
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    It seems like it would be a good idea to consult an immigration lawyer before bringing the child to the US, in which case you could ask them this question at the same time. – Nate Eldredge Oct 21 at 20:19
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    It is a violation of the spirit of immigration law. According to US immigration law you should not have preconceived intent of migrating when coming on a non immigrant visa or ESTA or anything of the sort except for specific visas that allow dual intent. I don’t think a child will be charged with immigration intent however it is a disqualifying designation for adjusting status for an adult. nafsa.org/Professional_Resources/Browse_by_Interest/… – Paul of Osawatomie Oct 21 at 20:36
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    I can see all sorts of potential difficulties with this. It might be worth posting a question on Expatriates to address the wider immigration issues. I agree with Nate: talk to a lawyer before you bring the child into the US. – Cannon Fodder Oct 21 at 21:00
up vote 12 down vote accepted

I wholeheartedly agree with Nate Eldridge that the best thing to do is to seek the advice of an immigration lawyer before doing this. However let me give you my understanding, having recently had a relative go through something very similar.

If you say at immigration that the child is coming to live with you, and you have no papers proving that they have a visa that allows them to do so, then you run the serious risk that they will be turned away at the border, and that you have an entry on your record saying that you attempted to facilitate an illegal entry into the US.

On the other hand, if the child comes to visit you for the amount of time that they are legally allowed to do without a visa, that is perfectly fine. If you then change your mind and apply for a change of status while they are there, so the child can stay with you permanently, that is also fine. However to back up your statement that they are coming to visit you, you should have a plan to return the child where they came from before the allowed time is up. A return ticket would be good evidence of that, though it may not be necessary if you have other evidence. You might want to plan for schooling the child during a temporary visit, in order to demonstrate you have thought about it. If immigration suspects that you are bringing the child specifically to live with you, that would be a problem, and might get you the same penalties as above.

But really, a lawyer would give you a much better answer on this.

  • There's no need for a lawyer. The answer is just "of course not". They will be sent away instantly if you are "... bringing a child to the US to live.". – Fattie Oct 22 at 2:50
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    @Fattie The lawyer would be who you consult about the path to doing this legally, which will depend on the exact details of the case. I wouldn't tell anyone looking to move their child to the US that there's no need for a lawyer. While it's possible to DIY some of the paperwork, it seems clear that in this case, where the OP does not know there's a process that needs to be followed at all, that a consultation with an immigration lawyer is the first step. – Zach Lipton Oct 22 at 4:33

Simply said, you cannot bring your child with you with the intent to stay in the US.

The child needs its own immigration permit (called 'Green Card'). Typically, when you are approved for a green card, your children and your spouse are approved at the same time, without further ado - you needed to have listed them on the application though.

Note that if your child was born in the US, he/she is a US citizen; your status doesn't matter. You simply can apply for a passport for him/her.

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    While correct in the big picture, this answer is wrong on the details. The green card is a document that immigrants receive after they arrive in the US. The immigration "permit" is a visa. – phoog Oct 22 at 3:42
  • @David that's also incorrect. When someone who holds an immigrant visa is admitted to the US, the stamp on the immigrant visa validates it as a temporary green card. The person is at that point a fully qualified permanent resident whose green card will be issued automatically, arriving in the mail a short while later. People who arrive in the US as nonimmigrants can in certain cases apply to "adjust status" and become immigrants, but the normal route in this case should be an immigrant visa application. – phoog Oct 22 at 4:25
  • @phoog Thanks for your correction and explanation. I deleted my comment. – David Oct 22 at 14:47

You should have a look at Bringing Children, Sons and Daughters to Live in the United States as Permanent Residents.

To enter the US without an immigrant visa, your child should not have any intent to immigrate to the US. If the immigration officer at the border determines that there is immigrant intent, but there is no immigrant visa, the child should be refused entry.

That is, people often speak of the VWP as allowing people to visit the US for up to 90 days, and a B visa (including Canadians entering in B status without a visa) as allowing up to 6 months. But these are nonimmigrant categories, and people who intend to immigrate do not qualify to be admitted in these categories. Someone who has enters in B status is allowed to change their mind and apply to "adjust status" and become an immigrant, but for most nonimmigrant statuses, including B visitor statuses, they're not allowed to have that intent when entering.

On the page linked above, you will see that the specific procedure you must follow may depend on how you got your green card. In some cases your child can "follow to join," meaning that it will not be necessary to submit a petition and wait for a visa number.

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