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
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: