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Other Adoption Related Immigration

Immigration Based on Adoption Other than Hague or Orphan Cases

The Hague and Orphan processes are special processes for children who are adopted by U.S. citizens and meet the specific requirements of those programs. There is, however, a third provision under which an adopted individual is considered the child (or adult son or daughter) of his or her adopting parent(s) for immigration purposes. This third provision is the immediate relative process.  

There are differences between the Hague and Orphan processes and the Immediate Relative Process.

  • The Immediate Relative Process is not limited to individuals who have been or are going to be adopted by U.S. citizens
  • The adopting parent must have evidence of a full and final adoption and satisfy custody and residence requirements before the adoption may be the basis for immigration benefits
  • Adopted children may petition for their parents and siblings. See the “Who Can Be Petitioned For?” section below for more details

Who is an Adopted Child Under the Immediate Relative Process?

Under this process, an adopted child is considered, for immigration purposes, to be the child (or adult son or daughter) of the adopting parent if:

  • The parent adopted the child before his or her 16th birthday (or before the 18th birthday under certain circumstances as described below). You submit evidence of a full and final adoption
    AND
  • The parent had legal and physical custody of the child for at least two years while the child was a minor
    • The legal custody must have been the result of a formal grant of custody from a court or other governmental entity
    • The custody and residence requirement may be met by custody and residence that preceded the adoption
    • The two years custody and residence requirements are waived for certain abused children

A child is 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)

Who Can Petition Under this Process for a Relative by Adoption?

  • A U.S. citizen
  • A permanent resident (green card holder)

U.S. Citizens May File a Petition for an Adopted:

  • Child (unmarried and under the age of 21)
  • Unmarried son or daughter over the age of 21
  • Married son or daughter

For additional information on filing a petition on behalf of an immediate relative go to the Green Card page.

A Permanent Resident May File a Petition for an Adopted:

  • Child (unmarried and under the age of 21)
  • Unmarried son or daughter over the age of 21

What and Where to File

To begin the immigration process for your adopted relative (as described above), file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.  For information about where to file and what supporting evidence to submit, see the Instructions for Form I-130.

For more detailed legal information on this process see Section 101(b)(1)(E) of the Immigration and Nationality Act and Title 8 Code of Federal Regulations 8 CFR 204.2(d)(2).

USCIS Policy for Determining Habitual Residence in the U.S. for Children of Hague Convention Countries

We recently published an interim policy memorandum  for USCIS officers to use when determining whether an adoptive child from another Hague Convention Country can be considered to be habitually resident in the United States.  The interim policy, effective on December 23, 2013, is available for public comment until January 17, 2014, in Feedback Opportunities section of our website.

Who Is Affected

Prospective adoptive parents filing Forms I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for children who are:

  • Citizens of Hague Convention Countries, and
  • In the United States.

The interim policy addresses instances when the Central Authority in the child’s country of origin (COO) can’t or won’t take a position on whether the child is still habitually resident in the COO. 

Last Reviewed/Updated: 01/04/2014