Bringing a child to the U.S. with no documentation of parentage

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | Family Immigration

Bringing a close relative to the U.S. on a family-based visa isn’t easy under the best of circumstances. There’s a lot of paperwork, frustration and waiting. What if you want to bring your child to the U.S., but you don’t have any legal documentation showing that you’re their parent?

This is a scenario that is far more common for men than for women. If, for example, you are a father and your child was conceived outside of marriage, you may not have been listed on their birth certificate for any number of reasons. Depending on where your child was born and the situation in that country now, this documentation could even potentially be an issue for you if you’re a child’s mother.

Even if you have no documentation showing your parentage, that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your child to the U.S. as long as you’re a citizen or permanent legal resident. It’s just going to take some extra steps.

What evidence outside of a birth certificate may be acceptable?

First, find out what kind of documentation is available to demonstrate your relationship to your child. Even if you have no official documentation like a birth certificate with your name on it, you probably have letters, emails or other communications with the child’s other parent or guardian or with the child themselves. You may have evidence of payments made to support the child, even if you don’t have court-ordered child support. Photos of you and the child can be helpful. All of this may be enough to persuade the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) of your relationship.

DNA testing

If you don’t have enough documentation to make a solid case to the USCIS, you can ask to do DNA testing. You and your child would both need to take a DNA test (which is a simple swab of the inside of the mouth). It costs some money, and you need to ensure that the tests are done and processed at accredited locations. USCIS considers a result with a 99.5% certainty of a parent/child relationship to be proof. These tests can sometimes be used to prove a biological relationship for other family visas.

If you’re in a situation like this, having experienced legal guidance can help you deal with the red tape and regulations involved in bringing a family member to the U.S. It’s smart to get this assistance as soon as possible, given the complexities of the process and all that is at stake.