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Before Your Child Immigrates to the United States

If the child you adopted or intend to adopt in the United States is residing abroad, the child will need an immigrant visa to enter the United States. Visas are issued by the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at the Embassy or Consulate in the foreign country where your child resides.

The type of visa your child is issued will determine what steps you need to take for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.

If your adopted child is already in the United States, visit the “Other Adoption Related Immigration page.

Visas

Visa types for Hague Adoptions:

  • IH-3 visa:  Issued for children with full and final adoptions from a Hague Convention country.
  • IH-4 visa:  Issued when a child is coming to the United States from a Hague Convention country to be adopted.

Visa types for Orphan (Non-Hague) Adoptions:

  • IR-3 visa:  Issued when a full and final adoption is completed abroad:
    • Requires that the parent(s) physically see the child prior to or during the adoption proceedings.
  • IR-4 visa:  Issued to a child that:
    • is coming to the United States to be adopted.
    • was adopted abroad by only one parent (if married).
    • was not seen by the parent(s) prior to or during the adoption.

Visa types for Other Adopted Children:

  • IR-2 visa:  Issued to a child:
    • adopted by a citizen if the child immigrates to the U.S. while unmarried and before his or her 21st birthday.
    • after the child’s 21st birthday, if he or she is treated under the Child Status Protection Act (as if he or she were still under 21).

Child Citizenship

For more information on the Child Citizenship Act see the Child Citizenship Act Information Fact Sheet.

Children with IR-3 and IH-3 visas automatically acquire citizenship if:

  • they enter the United States prior to their 18th birthday.
  • they are under 18 years old they are automatically U.S. citizens upon admission to the United States.
  • they reside in the United States with their parents (U.S. government or military personnel assigned overseas may qualify as residing in the United States).

For IR-3 and IH-3 cases, we will automatically send your child’s Certificate of Citizenship to your U.S. address without requiring additional forms or fees.

Children with IR-4 and IH-4 visas:

  • do not acquire automatic citizenship upon entry to the U.S., but instead become Permanent Residents.
  • will automatically receive a permanent resident card (green card).
  • will automatically acquire citizenship on the date of their adoption in United States if the adoption occurs before the child’s 18th birthday.

Children with IR-2 visas that are:

  • under 18 years old automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry to the United States if they reside in the United States with their parents (U.S. government or military personnel residing overseas may qualify as residing in the U.S.).
  • over 18 years old become permanent residents and receive a green card.

Children with IR-2 visas who did not automatically acquire U.S. citizenship can apply for naturalization when eligible.

Last Reviewed/Updated: 04/08/2011