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If you adopt a child from overseas, the child is not automatically able to enter the United States.  The adoptive parents will need to comply with multiple immigration rules and regulations before the child can enter the country.  The specific rules you must abide by may change depending on the country from which you are adoption and whether or not your child is an orphan.

I Want to Adopt a Child from a Hague Convention Country – How Can I Bring My Child to the U.S.?

Many countries, including the U.S., are party to an international agreement called the Hague Convention.  The Hague Convention governs international adoption procedures between agreeing countries.

In order to adopt a child from a Hague country, you must be a U.S. citizen and if you are unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old before you file the petition to bring your child to the United States.  This petition is called the Form I-800 and is explained in further detail below.  If you are married, the age restriction does not apply.

You and any adults who are living in your household will need to undergo criminal and background checks.  Additionally, a government-approved adoption service worker will come to your house to conduct a home study wherein they learn about the prospective family life that will be provided to the adopted child.

To officially start this process, you must file the Form I-800A Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country.  This form is submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Once USCIS approves your Form I-800A, you can then file the Form I-800 Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative.  This form is also submitted to USCIS.

You must file the I-800 before the child’s 16th birthday. However, there is some protection against USCIS taking a long time with I-800A approvals for older children. You can file the I-800 later than the child’s 16th birthday if you filed your Form I-800A for a child between 15 and 16, so long as you file the Form I-800 within 180 days of the day on which USCIS approves the Form I-800A.

If USCIS feels that your Form I-800 should be approved, it will notify the U.S. consulate and the consulate will tell the Hague country that the adoption can move forward.  After the adoption is completed, the consulate will issue the formal approval of the Form I-800 and will also issue the immigrant visat o the child so the child can come to the United States.

Importantly, not only does the parent have to qualify to adopt a Hague country child, but the child must also qualify.  This means that the child must have been a continuous resident in a Hague country and the child’s most recent legal guardian must have given up the child and must have provided written consent to the termination of the guardianship relationship with the child and to the child’s adoption and immigration.

I Want to Adopt a Child from a Non-Hague Convention Country – How Can I Bring My Child to the U.S.?

If the child you want to adopt is not from a Hague country, then you must meet slightly different requirements.  You must still be a U.S. citizen and the same age restrictions apply if you are unmarried.  Additionally, you will undergo the same criminal and background checks and your house will be subject to the same home study.  However, for non-Hague country adoptions the form you must file with USCIS is called the Form I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition.  After USCIS approves this form, you can file the Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.

To qualify as an orphan, the child must either be without any parents because both parents have died, disappeared, abandoned, or deserted the child, or the child must be residing with a sole parent who is unable to provide the child with life’s basic necessities.  If the child is currently residing with a parent, the parent must provide written and irrevocable consent to the adoption and immigration of the child.

At the Callan Law Firm, P.C., our compassionate attorneys are available to assist families with the international adoption process.  Contact our office today to speak to an experienced attorney about bringing the newest member of your family to the United States.