The Immigration Through Adoption Process
Immigration through adoption, or “Inter-country adoption,” means adoption of a child born in one country by an adoptive parent living in another country. USCIS has a vital role to play in the inter-country adoption process.
Immigration laws in the United States provides three different processes through which someone may immigrate on the basis of an inter-country adoption. You may immigrate under one of these provisions only if your adoption meets all the requirements of that specific process.
In the Immigration through adoption process, there are two separate processes that apply only to children adopted by US citizens. The child may immigrate to the US immediately after the adoption or may immigrate to the US to be adopted here. They are the Hague Process and the Orphan or Non-Hague Process.
Quite a few of the Hague and Orphan requirements are similar. There is another process that applies to a US citizen or permanent resident who may petition for his/her adoptive child through an Immediate Relative Petition.
In the Immigration through adoption process, there are three paths to bringing your adopted child to the United States. Which path your adopted child treads depends on his/her individual circumstances.
The Hague Process applies if the child habitually resides in a country that is a party to the Hague Inter-country Adoption Convention. If you filed Forms I-800A and I-800 in order to adopt, it simply means that your child is from a country that has implemented the Hague Adoption Convention (Hague). It also means your child will enter the United States either with an IH-3 immigrant visa (if you adopted your child in a Hague country) or IH-4 immigrant visa (if the adoption is finalized in the United States).
The Orphan Process or Non-Hague Process applies if the Hague Inter-country Adoption Convention does not apply. If you filed Forms I-600A and/or I-600 in order to adopt, it simply means your child is from a country that has not implemented the Hague Adoption Convention. In this case, your child will enter the United States either with an IR-3 immigrant visa (adoption finalized in a non-Hague country and you [and your spouse, if married] saw your child prior to or during the adoption process) or an IR-4 immigrant visa (if the adoption is finalized in the United States).
Immediate Relative Process
If your child does not meet the requirements for the Hague or the non-Hague adoption processes, you can still file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on his/her behalf as the adopted child of a US Citizen. Parents must have two years of legal and physical custody and obtain a full, final adoption of the child to be eligible to file an I-130. Legal and physical custody can be accrued at one stretch of time or cumulatively over several periods and can also be accrued before, during and after the adoption.
The two years must be accrued before you file Form I-130. In addition, the adoption must be finalized before your child’s 16th birthday (or 18th birthday if they are a biological sibling of a child you have already adopted or will adopt). Your child will receive an IR-2 immigrant visa if he/she is found eligible.
If you are adopting from a Hague Convention country, there are certain restrictions that apply and may prevent your child from immigrating to the United States using this process. You have to fully research the adoption laws of the country you hope to adopt from before beginning the process.