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Expert James
Expert James, Immigration Attorney
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Can I adopt (I live in Hawaii) my undocumented niece (my sisters

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Can I adopt (I live in Hawaii) my undocumented niece (my sister's daughter), age 17, who has lived with me in the US for 4 years? She originally entered the US on a tourist visa 4 years ago.
Hi there,

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Actually, she is not undocumented if she entered the US legally and was inspected by a CBP officer at a port of entry. But she is out of status.

Here is the information about adoptions and immigration: Adoption Related Immigration.

As you will notice, qualifying for immigration benefits through adoption requires that the parent adopted the child before the child's 16th birthday. Because your niece is 17 years old already, an adoption would not help her to get any immigration benefits through you.

Now we do expect there to be a change in immigration laws sometime very soon, and she very well may qualify for whatever changes would benefit those who currently are in the US unlawfully. But as of now, we simply don't have any sense as to what a new law will provide or look like. We do have some indications that some sort of forgiveness will be in place for people in her situation, including a path to lawful status. But until that is verified, and the law goes before congress and the president for passage and signature into law, everything I can say about the new law is pretty irrelevant.

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