Blended families are always complex, but if your spouse and his or her children were not United States citizens or lawful permanent residents at the time of your marriage, further complications can result.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offers information that may be helpful to you if your spouse has children from a previous relationship and you would like to make them either citizens or lawful permanent residents.
Does adopting your stepchildren make them citizens?
Adopting your stepchildren has no bearing on their immigration status. You can adopt your stepchildren, and you can petition for an adjustment of status for them, but the two legal processes are separate.
If you decide to adopt your stepchildren, you must follow the applicable laws of the jurisdiction where the adoption takes place, whether that be a U.S. state or a foreign country.
How do you petition for a change in a stepchild’s status?
You can petition for your stepchild’s immigration to the United States or a change in status if you married the child’s biological parent before the child had turned 18 years old and if you are a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States. You can start the process by filling out a Petition for Alien Relative, also known as Form I-130.
The next step depends on whether your stepchild is already in the United States or still living in a foreign country. In the former case, he or she fills out Form I-485, Application To Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; in the latter, he or she applies for an immigrant visa. In either case, the forms must receive USCIS approval.