If eligible U.S. citizen parents seek to adopt a child from abroad from a country that is a member of the Hague Convention, the adoption must be done through the Hague Process. The Hague Process requires the applicant(s) to follow the requirements of the Hague Convention as implemented through United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and Department of State (DOS) regulations. If U.S. citizen parents seek to adopt a child from a non-convention country, the adoption must follow the rules in the implementation regulations for orphan adoptions instead. This article contains the list Hague Convention countries for which the Hague Process must be followed for international adoptions.
The U.S. immigration laws provide for three methods for passing status to a child adopted from overseas. The first two methods of international adoption apply only to U.S. citizens over the age of 25.
First there is the Hague Process wherein a U.S. citizen parent or parents may adopt a child from an overseas country that is a party to the Hague Convention through the rules provided for by the Convention. The second process is called the Orphan Process. In general, a U.S. citizen will use the orphan process to adopt a child from overseas who is determined to be an orphan and who is not being adopted from a country that is a party to the Hague Convention. For the Hague Convention process, the adoptive parent must work with a Hague Accredited Adoption Service Provider to satisfy various requirements. The relevant forms are the Form I-800A and Form I-800. The adoptive parent must present evidence to USCIS that the child is an “orphan” as defined in the immigration laws. The adoptive parents’ household must undergo a home study completed by someone authorized to conduct such home studies in the adoptive parent’s state. Children can be adopted while overseas (IR3/IH3) or may be admitted into the United States in order for the adoption to be completed (IR4/IH4). Under both processes, the child will be able to acquire U.S. citizenship through one or both of his or her parents as the child of a U.S. citizen after residing for at least two years with the adoptive parent.
The third process for according status through international adoption is the immediate relative petition. This process is available to lawful permanent residents as well as U.S. citizens. Provided that a legal adoption has taken place and the child meets the requirements for qualifying as an adopted child under the immigration laws, the U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent may file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of the child after the child resides for two years with the adoptive parent.
In order to qualify as an adoptive child for U.S. immigration purposes, the child must have been adopted before his or her 16th birthday (or 18th birthday if the child is the natural born sibling of a child who was adopted before his or her 16th birthday by the same parent(s)). Furthermore, the child must reside for at least 2 years with the adoptive parent(s). However, the 2-year requirement is waived if the child is subjected to battery or extreme cruelty by a U.S. citizen or LPR by the adopting parent or by a family member of the adopting parent resided in the same household.
International adoptions are often quite complicated, and as such, it is well advised that prospective adoptive parents looking to adopt a child from overseas consult with an experienced immigration attorney. At The Law Offices of Grinberg & Segal, PLLC, we have extensive experience in working with parents who are looking to make a new home with an adopted child.