A child adopted by a U.S. citizen and who will reside in the United States 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 the following visa categories of adoptive children to immigrate to the United States.
- IR-2: A child adopted by an American citizen in their legal custody and residency for two years prior, to immigrate to the United States.
- IR-3: An orphan child adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen.
- IR-4: An orphan child who is coming to the United States for adoption.
- IH-3: Generally for a child adopted by a U.S. citizen in a Convention country.
- IH-4: A child coming from a Convention country who will be adopted in the Unites States.
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 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 nonimmigrant 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 present an approved I-600; (2) must prove that they intend to depart the U.S. to continue their residence abroad and (3) must present USCIS Call-in Letter (Form G-56). Expeditious naturalization must be complete 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 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)
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 adoptions (learn more.).
Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the quality and accuracy of the information contained in this section, all content is provided for user convenience and is subject to change without notice. The Embassy makes no warranty, express or implied concerning the information provided. Please check the USCIS website for updated information pertaining to U.S. permanent residents.
Important Resources on Adoption: