FCA Article 5 – Paternity

This module explains how establishment of paternity is essential to protect a child’s right to obtain immigration benefits based on a father’s status in the future.

Legitimacy and Paternity

  • Certain non-citizens may benefit from the citizenship or other immigration status of a parent.
  • Legitimacy of a father, for immigration purposes, requires:
    • An action to legitimate child under the law of the child’s or father’s residence or domicile,
    • Child must be under 18 at the time of legitimation,
    • There must be legal custody with the father at the time of legitimation,
    • Natural child of the father.
  • A child can also benefit from the citizenship or other immigration status of a parent through adoption and/or natural birth.

Many Immigration Benefits Hinge on Paternity Findings and Familial Ties

  • Family Sponsorship: U.S. Citizen/ LPR individuals can sponsor their spouses and children to become lawful permanent residents. U.S. citizens can sponsor their parents and siblings to have lawful status.
  • Derivative Beneficiaries: Children and other relatives of undocumented immigrants may be able to derive immigration relief from the petitions filed by their undocumented immigrant relative.
  • Citizenship: Some individuals born outside of the U.S. can acquire or derive U.S. citizenship if they can prove that one of their parents was a U.S. Citizen. There are very specific rules about who can acquire citizenship depending on when the individual was born and whether their parents were married at the time of birth.