Adopting a Foreign Born Child

HomeUS Visa & ImmigrationAdopting a Foreign Born Child

We would like to adopt a foreign born child. How do we get started?

Adopting a foreign born child is a complex and drawn-out process. The adopting process can take 1 to 4 years, or even longer. The cost of adoption services also varies widely and can cost thousands of dollars. In addition, you should be familiar with the three different sets of laws–U.S. federal law, the laws of the child’s country of birth, and U.S. state law that govern Intercountry adoptions. Note that although adoption agency will be able to help you arrange an adoption placement, it cannot represent you or advise on the legal aspects of your child’s immigration.

Who can adopt a child from a foreign country?

To bring a foreign-born child you have adopted to the United States, you must the basic requirements including, but not limited to, the following criteria:

  • You must be a U.S. Citizen.
  • If you are unmarried, you must be at least 25 years old.
  • If you are married, you must jointly adopt the child, and your spouse must also be either a U.S. citizen or in legal status in the United States.
  • You must meet requirements that will determine your suitability as a prospective adoptive parent, including criminal background checks, fingerprinting, and a home study.
  • You must also meet your home state’s requirements. You can learn more about individual state requirements on the Child Welfare Information Gateway website:
  • You must meet Foreign Country Requirements for adopting parents. Log on to to obtain more Country specific information.

What are the three different immigration processes to adopt foreign born children?

  • Hague Adoption Convention: The United States is part of an intercountry adoption treaty called the Hague Adoption Convention, which governs adoptions between the United States and approximately 75 other countries. You should first file Form I-800A with the USCIS before adopting a child or accepting a placement for a determination that one is suitable for intercountry adoption. Once USCIS approves the application, work with the adoption service provider to obtain a proposed adoption placement and then File Form I-800 with USCIS, before adopting the child, to have the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United States based on the proposed adoption.
  • Non-Hague Adoption Process: The first step in adopting a child from a non-Convention country is usually to select an agency or attorney in the United States that can help with your adoption. You will then file Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, if you have not yet identified a child, with USCIS. Along with this form, you will submit a home study to USCIS that includes in depth information about your health, finances, home, background, and more. If you are eligible to adopt, you can be matched with a specific child, complying with the laws and regulations of the child’s country of residence regarding intercountry adoption. After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody for the child) in a non-Convention country, you then file Form I-600 petition to determine if a specific child meets the US orphan classification in the INA. Once USCIS or the consulate has approved the eligibility of the child for adoption, then you can apply for an immigrant visa for your adopted child at the U.S. Embassy.
  • Immediate Relative Process: A U.S. citizen or permanent resident (green card holder) may file Form I-130 for an adopted child if the parent adopted the child before his or her 16th birthday and the parent had legal and physical custody of the child for at least two years while the child was a minor. A child can still considered to be an adopted child if they were adopted after his or her 16th birthday but before his or her 18th birthday, and the child is the birth sibling of another child who was adopted by the same parent(s) before the other child’s 16th birthday and immigrated through the Immediate Relative Process, or the child is the birth sibling of another child who was adopted by the same parent(s) before the other child’s 16th birthday and who immigrated as an orphan based on an adoption by the same parent(s).

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