Form I-130 Filing Information for Prospective Adoptive Parents Living Abroad

Who can file an immediate relative petition (Form I-130) on behalf of an adopted child who is neither an “Orphan” nor a Hague Convention Adoptee?

A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (“green card” holder) may file an immediate relative Form I-130 petition for an adopted child who did not complete the “orphan” (Form I-600A/I-600) or Hague Convention (Form I-800A/I-800) process if the following requirements are met: 

  • Your child’s adoption was finalized before the child’s 16th birthday (or before the child’s 18th birthday if you also adopted the child’s birth sibling and the birth sibling qualified as an “orphan” or adopted immediate relative child while under the age of 16); and
  • Your child must have resided with you and been in your legal custody (as a result of a formal grant of custody from a court or authorized governmental entity) for at least two years.
    • The custody and residence requirements may be met either before or after the finalized adoption, but any pre-adoption custody must be based on a formal grant of custody obtained according to the law of the country where you obtained custody. 
    • If your child is or was habitually resident in a Hague Convention country prior to the adoption and you adopted the child on or after April 1, 2008, the two-year legal custody and joint residence period generally must be satisfied outside the United States.

Where do I file Form I-130?

The filing location for a Form I-130 depends on where you live.  If you reside in the United States, then you should follow the instructions for domestic filing on the form. 

If you live outside the United States, you may:

  • File with a domestic USCIS lockbox.  Please refer to the instructions on Form I-130 for mailing addresses.
  • File directly with an international USCIS field office if there is one in the country where you live.  For a list of USCIS international offices and filing instructions, please visit the USCIS website.
  • If there is no USCIS office in your country of residence, you may qualify to file Form I-130 due to exceptional circumstances with the Department of State at a U.S Embassy or consulate having jurisdiction over the area where you live. To determine whether you qualify, follow this link to learn more about the exceptional circumstances requirements.  If you believe that you would qualify under these requirements, contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate with jurisdiction over the area where you live to request that your case be processed locally.

Is an adoption abroad considered an exceptional circumstance that would allow for filing my Form I-130 petition at a U.S. Embassy or consulate?

Exceptional circumstances may apply in the case of adoptive parents living abroad who want to file an immediate relative petition for a child they have adopted abroad and there is an imminent need to depart the country.  Some examples include emergent medical needs, changed country conditions, or a job offer or job relocation.  This exception is only available if the child and the petitioner have resided together for at least two years, and the child has been in the petitioner’s legal custody for at least two years.  The petitioner must also have a final adoption decree for the child. 

If the petitioner is an adoptive parent who intends to travel to the United States for a temporary visit and plans to return to their residence abroad, they may wish to explore the N-600K process.

What documentation should I submit when requesting that the Department of State accept a locally filed Form I-130 petition due to exceptional circumstances?

Please submit copies of relevant documentation to support why you believe you qualify for an exceptional circumstance exception.  Some examples would include evidence of a medical emergency, documents related to a job offer or job relocation, or other evidence that indicates an imminent need to depart the country.  This is not an exhaustive list of examples.

Supporting documents must be in English.  Any document that is not in English must be accompanied by a full English translation, and include a translator’s certification that he or she is competent to translate from the original language into English and that the translation is a complete and accurate translation of the entire document.

What documentation should I submit when filing Form I-130?

Please refer to the USCIS website, which outlines the requirements for filing the Form I-130 and provides more detailed information.  USCIS regulations also describe the requirements for a Form I-130 petition.  You can find these on our website.

If I’ve met all eligibility criteria to file Form I-130, what is the process to request local processing at the U.S. Embassy or consulate due to exceptional circumstances?  

  • First, notify the U.S. Embassy or consulate in your country of residence that you would like to request local processing of a Form I-130 petition.  Please contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate directly before attempting to file to determine whether you must schedule an appointment.  When meeting with the consular officer, explain what exceptional circumstances you believe would qualify you for an exception for the U.S. Embassy or consulate to process your Form I-130 petition.
  • The consular officer at the U.S. Embassy or consulate will contact the USCIS Field Office Director with jurisdiction over your place of residence and provide the details of the request and any supporting evidence you submitted.
  • USCIS will determine whether your circumstances meet the “exceptional circumstances” exception criteria and will notify the U.S. Embassy or consulate of the decision.
  • If USCIS determines that you are eligible to file your Form I-130 with the U.S. Embassy or consulate, they will notify the Department of State to accept and adjudicate the petition.
  • If the decision is negative, the Department of State will instruct you that the request was denied and to file the Form I-130 in accordance with the form instructions.
  • If your petition is approved, you will also need to file a visa application.  You may inquire about the procedures and timing for filing a visa application with a consular officer.  Information on any U.S. Embassy or consulate can be found at

If I live in a country without a USCIS International Office and the USCIS Field Office Director with jurisdiction over my place of residence denies my request to file with the Department of State, can I appeal that decision?

No, there is no right to appeal or request reconsideration of a USCIS decision to deny a request to process Form I-130 on an exceptional basis.

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