The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international treaty that provides important safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents in intercountry adoptions.
The Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in the United States on April 1, 2008. Since then, U.S. citizens who are habitually resident in the United States and seeking to adopt a child who is habitually resident in a country outside the United States that is a party to the Hague Convention must generally follow the Hague process. Limited cases, however, may qualify as transition cases and continue to follow the Orphan Process rather than the Hague process. For information on transition cases, see our Transition Cases webpage.
The United States recognizes more than 100 countries as Hague countries. For a list of these countries, please visit the Department of State Adoptions page.
- Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country
- Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative
Prospective adoptive parents must submit Form I-800A to USCIS to establish their suitability and eligibility to adopt.
If USCIS approves your Form I-800A, then you must submit Form I-800 to determine the child's eligibility as a Hague Convention adoptee, before adopting or obtaining legal custody of the child. If you have reason to believe that the child you wish to adopt may be inadmissible to the United States (on medical grounds, for example), you may file Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility, with Form I-800.
To be eligible to file Form I-800A and Form I-800 you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Be habitually resident in the United States; and
- If you are not married, be at least 24 years old when you file your Form I-800A, and be 25 years old when you file your Form I-800.
For a child to be classified as a Hague Convention adoptee, the child must meet the following criteria:
- Be under the age of 16 at the time of filing Form I-800 (or under 18 if the sibling exception applies—see the Form I-800 instructions (PDF, 226.63 KB) for more information);
- Be habitually resident in a Hague country; and
- Be deemed eligible for intercountry adoption by the Central Authority of that country and have obtained all necessary consents for adoption.
A Hague country must have an officially designated Central Authority to safeguard the adoption process. The U.S. Central Authority is the Department of State (DOS). USCIS is responsible for processing Form I-800A applications and Form I-800 petitions. USCIS and DOS work together to ensure the integrity of the Hague process.
Adoption Service Providers (ASP)
An adoption service provider (ASP) must be accredited, approved, or otherwise authorized to provide intercountry adoption services. Be sure to ask any ASP whether they are U.S. accredited or approved before hiring or paying any money to the provider. You must also identify a primary provider. Only accredited or approved ASPs may act as the primary provider in your case. For more information go the Adoption Service Providers page.
An ASP cannot provide legal advice or legal services to prospective adoptive parents or represent prospective adoptive parents before USCIS. For more information, see our Find Legal Services page.
It is very important that you complete the Hague process in the proper order outlined below. Do not adopt a child or obtain legal custody before you have filed Form I-800A and Form I-800 and USCIS has approved your application and provisionally approved your petition, as doing so contradicts the Hague Adoption Convention. Out-of-order adoptions may also cause significant delays or result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
- Choose a U.S. accredited or approved ASP to act as your primary provider (and perhaps also an immigration attorney).
- Obtain a home study from someone authorized to complete an intercountry adoption home study.
- File Form I-800A to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before adopting a child or accepting a placement.
- Once USCIS approves your Form I-800A application, work with your primary provider to apply to obtain a proposed adoptive placement with the Hague country’s Central Authority.
- Before adopting the child, file a Form I-800 petition with USCIS to have the child found provisionally eligible to immigrate to the United States based on the proposed adoption.
- After USCIS provisionally approves your Form I-800, adopt the child or obtain legal custody of the child for the purpose of emigration and adoption in the United States.
- If you reside in the U.S., obtain an immigrant visa for the child.
- Bring the child to the United States for admission with the visa.