Nonimmigrant visas such as the E, L, O, and H-1B allow for the principal visa holder’s children to also come to the United States with dependent visas. The children are permitted to stay in the U.S. and can attend school, although they are not eligible for work authorization. In order to qualify as a child and be eligible for a dependent E, L, O or H visa, the children must be under 21 years of age and unmarried. If your child is over 21, or under 21 but married, he or she is not eligible for a dependent visa. If your child already entered the U.S. with a visa obtained through you and then either turns 21 or gets married, your child will lose the status they previously held through you.
For example, let’s say that you have been running an E-2 business in the United States for several years. When you first received your E-2 visa, your child was 17 years old and therefore she also received a visa as an E-2 dependent. Your child has been living in the United States with you since then but her twenty-first birthday is approaching. When your child turns 21, she will automatically lose her E-2 status because she is no longer considered a dependent child. Even though your visa may still be valid for another year with the possibility to renew, your child will no longer be able to receive any benefit through you. If your daughter wishes to remain in the United States once she turns 21, she will have to qualify for a visa in her own right.
If you have a nonimmigrant visa and are currently living in the U.S. with your children it is important to consider future options well before they turn 21. For example, your children may be eligible for student visas to attend college in the United States. They may also be eligible for other types of visas depending on the circumstances. If your child will be turning 21 and you would like to discuss possible visa options, please click here to make an appointment for a consultation.
Lastly, if there is a compelling humanitarian reason why it is necessary for your son or daughter to remain with you in the United States, it may be possible for them to receive extended B-2 tourist visa status while you remain in E-2 or another nonimmigrant status. For more information on extended B-2 status for family members, please click here.
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