Updated on 31.01.2023

Visa question of the month - Derived visa for adopted children?

YOUR QUESTION: We are applying for an L-1 visa for our employee. He is accompanied to the USA by his wife and three children. One of the employee's children is their common child (8 years old), another child was brought into the marriage by his wife (stepchild, 16 years old). One child (now 11 years old) was adopted by both spouses at the age of 4. Can all three children obtain a visa without any problems?
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Practical example: Customer questions about the US visa

Your question

Our employee (L-1 visa) is accompanied to the USA by his wife and children. They have one child together, one child from the wife's first marriage and one adopted child. Can all three children obtain a visa without any problems?

Our answer

Accompanying family members (spouse:inside and children up to the age of 21) of L-1 Visa holders can apply for an L-2 visa. The situation for the wife is therefore unproblematic, she receives an L-2 visa. For the common biological child (8 years) an L-2 visa can also be applied for. At the consular interview only the original and a copy of the birth certificate must be presented (in addition to the regular application documents). The child does not have to appear in person at the interview appointment. Only from the age of 14 is there an obligation to appear in person.

The stepchild at the age of 16 can also obtain an L-2 visa (through the status of the stepfather), since the child was not yet older than 18 at the time of marriage. However, at the visa interview, in addition to the birth certificate (original plus copy), other documents regarding custody must be attached. If the wife has sole custody, then proof of this from the Youth Welfare Office must be included in the visa interview. If there is a shared custody arrangement with the natural father,the latter must, on the one hand, declare (notarized) in a letter his consent to the stay in the USA. On the other hand, evidence of the custody arrangement on the part of the youth welfare office should be enclosed.

Adopted children can also obtain derivative L-2 status, but only under certain conditions:

  1. The adoption must have taken place before the age of 16.
  2. The adoption must have taken place at least two years before the visa application.
  3. The child must already have lived together with the adoptive parents in a common household for at least two years.

Since point 1 and point 2 are fulfilled and we assume that a common household has also existed for two years, an L-2 visa can also be applied for for the adopted child. Ideally, when applying at the U.S. Consulate, in addition to the general adoption documents, a letter from the Youth Welfare Office should be attached, confirming the joint cohabitation for more than two years.

As final information: Unfortunately, foster children do not receive a derived visa from main applicants. Here it must be checked whether other "alternative" visa categories (e.g. B-2 Visitor visa or F-1 student visa) are eligible.

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Updated on 31.01.2023