A child adopted by a U.S. citizen overseas and who will reside in the U.S. must obtain an immigrant visa before he or she can enter the United States. Issuance of visas is governed by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which currently provides for three categories of adoptive children to immigrate to the United States.
- The first category (IR-2) allows a child adopted by an American citizen and who has been in that American citizen’s legal custody and residence for two years, to immigrate to the United States.
- The second category (IR-3) allows an orphan child adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen to immigrate.
- The third category (IR-4) allows an orphan child who is coming to the United States to be adopted, to immigrate.
The Department of State strongly advises U.S. citizens to verify that a particular child will fit into one of these three categories per U.S. immigration law and regulations before proceeding with an adoption. A consular officer cannot issue a visa to an adopted child if he or she does not meet the legal definitions of 101(b)(1)(E) or 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Exception: Issuance of a B-2 Visa for Expeditious Naturalization under INA 322
Children adopted abroad by American citizens who do not intend to live in the United States may visit the United States on non-immigrant visas and, in some cases, qualify for a B-2 visa to participate in expeditious naturalization procedures.
To obtain a B-2 visa, adoptive parents (1) must demonstrate that the child qualifies either under the two-year legal custody and residency rule or the parents must present an approved I-600 petition; (2) must prove that they intend to depart the U.S. to continue their residence abroad after the short U.S. visit and (3) must present the USCIS Call-in Letter (Form G-56). Expeditious naturalization must be completed before the child’s 18th birthday.
Definition of "Orphan"
INA 101(b)(1)(F) defines an orphan as: A child, under the age of sixteen at the time a petition is filed in his or her behalf to accord classification as an immediate relative under Section 201(b), who is an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents, or for whom the sole or surviving parent is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
- Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative Child Who Has Been in the Legal Custody and Residency for Two Years with Adoptive Parent(s)
- Form I-600A Application for Advanced Processing of Orphan Petition
- Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
Hague Adoption Convention (HAC)
The Hague Adoption Convention is a multi-national treaty that provides uniform standards for intercountry adoptions and establishes international procedures and safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents who are involved in intercountry adoption. To learn more, please visit the State Department's website on Intercountry Adoption.
Additional Information on Adoption
The information presented above is only a part of the process on intercountry adoptions. For details, please visit the USCIS page on Adoptions.
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