Immigration Adoption

Family-Based Immigration

Summary

When U.S. citizens want to adopt a child from another country, they have to follow steps and submit documents to make the process legal. Under U.S. immigration law, there are three different processes by which someone can immigrate to another country based on intercountry adoption.

When U.S. citizens want to adopt a child from another country, they have to follow steps and submit documents to make the process legal. Under U.S. immigration law, there are three different processes by which someone can immigrate to another country based on intercountry adoption.

An individual can obtain a green card through adoption under any of these provisions, as long as the adoption process meets all of the requirements set.

What Processes Should I Follow To Adopt Immigrant Children?

As mentioned, there are three ways to adopt an immigrant child if you’re a US citizen. After successfully following any one of these processes, the child can immigrate after adoption.

1. The Hague Process

You’ll have to follow this process if you’re going to adopt a child who habitually resides in a country that belongs to The Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention. The Hague Conference has 82 members composed of 82 states and one regional economic integration organization.

When you adopt a child from a country that has implemented The Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention, he or she will have to enter the US with an IH-3 immigrant visa (if you finalized the adoption of your child in their country of origin or in a Hague country), or an IH-4 immigrant visa (if the adoption is made and finalized within the US).

You’ll have to file Forms I-800A and I-800 to legally adopt children who originate from countries that are part of The Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention.

2. The Orphan Process (Non-Hague)

You can follow this process if the child you’re going to adopt qualifies as an orphan and doesn’t reside in a country that is a part of The Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention.

The child will have to enter the US with an IR-3 immigrant visa (if the adoption was finalized outside of a non-Hague country and you saw the child before or during the adoption process), or an IR-4 immigrant visa (if the adoption is made and finalized within the US).

You’ll have to submit Forms I-600A and/or I-600 to adopt. These are documents that imply that your child originated from a country that doesn’t belong to The Hague Intercountry Adoption Convention.

3. Petition for Alien Relative

For U.S. citizens or permanent residents of the U.S., you can petition for your adopted child through a Petition for Alien Relative. This process is ideal if your adopted child doesn’t meet any of the requirements set out in the Hague or the orphan processes.

In this process, you’ll have to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative on behalf of your adopted child. Depending on the date the adoption was finalized, you may also need to show at least two years of physical and legal custody in order for your child to immigrate to the U.S. The requirement of physical custody can be accrued at one stretch of time before or after the adoption, and sometimes, can even be accrued cumulatively over several periods. These two years of legal and physical custody should be accrued before you file Form I-130.

Moreover, the adoption should be finalized before the adopted child’s 16th birthday, or 18th birthday depending on if they are biologically a sibling of a child you have already adopted or are planning to adopt. Your adopted child will immediately receive an IR-2 immigrant visa once found that he or she is eligible.

Who Can I Adopt?

U.S. citizens or permanent residents in the U.S. can adopt children from other countries as long as the child meets certain requirements, including potentially the following:

  • The child should be under the age of 16 on the date the adoption is finalized (see above for an exception that would allow the child to be up to 18 years old). However, different countries have different requirements when it comes to the age of the children qualified to be adopted by U.S. citizens. It’s best to see the requirements set by the agencies of where your adopted child is from to learn more.
  • The child’s natural parents or guardians have given their written irrevocable content to the termination of their legal relationship with the child and have agreed to the child’s adoption and immigration.
  • If a child has two living parents but they are no longer capable of providing proper care.
  • A release should be freely given and verified by the Central Authority from the child’s country of origin.

Orphan Status

Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), some children being adopted may be considered orphans. In cases like these, you have to file a Form I-600 and the Petition to Classify an Orphan as Immediate Relative to the USCIS to finalize the adoption process. Form I-600 is important to determine the child’s eligibility to qualify as an orphan under US immigration law.

For the adopted child to qualify as an orphan under the INA, he or she should meet the following requirements:

  • The child should be under the age of 16 at the time the Form I-600 is filed on his or her behalf or under the age of 18 and a sibling of a child (under 16 years old) who will be adopted or has been adopted by the same adoptive parents.
  • The child should not have any parents because of death, disappearance, abandonment, desertion, or separation, or have a surviving parent but they are no longer capable of providing proper care and have irrevocably released the child in writing.
  • The adoptive parents should complete the final adoption process required in the child’s country of origin or have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adoption and immigration in the US.
  • The child is going to be adopted by a married U.S. citizen and spouse jointly, or by an unmarried citizen who is at least 25 years of age.

Keep in mind that not all children present in orphanages and children’s homes are adoptable. In some countries, biological parents will place their children in orphanages or children’s homes temporarily due to financial hardships and will still have intentions to return their children home whenever possible.

Am I Qualified For an Immigration Adoption?

For you to legally adopt a child from another country and bring him or her to live in the US, you should be eligible to adopt under U.S. law. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS determines your eligibility for adoption. You can’t bring an adopted child (a child for which you have gained legal custody for the purpose of adoption and immigration) into the U.S. until the USCIS certifies the legal relationship.

Required Documents & Processing Time

To start the immigrant visa process and legally bring your adopted child to the U.S., you should submit the required documents and forms to the USCIS first. You’re prohibited from bringing your adopted child to the US unless you receive approval from the USCIS.

After the USCIS reviews all of your paperwork, a case is then assigned to the U.S. Embassy in the country where your adopted child resides. Children adopted abroad are required to undergo an immigrant visa interview at a US Embassy before residing permanently in the U.S.

Once all required documents are submitted, the Embassy will schedule the final visa interview. The Department of State is also committed to helping in making the process fast and easy for the parties involved.

However, keep in mind that the time required to issue your adopted child’s visa will depend on the requirements set and circumstances present in his or her country of residence. To set your expectations better and come up with a more realistic timeline, reach out to the local agencies present in your adopted child’s country of residence.

Next Steps

Adopting an immigrant child is fulfilling, but the process can be challenging. This is especially true if you’re not aware of the requirements set by your own country and the country where your adopted child is from.

If you’re looking for ways to make the process fast and easy, hire professionals who can help you out. Retaining a law firm that specializes in immigration adoption and paying for their services will save you both stress and time.

Locations

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(626) 795-6777

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(415) 568-3777

Philippines

(632) 7-759-6777

China

(86) 532-8257957777