Other Adoption-Related Immigration
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. The family-based petition process provides 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.
There are differences between the Hague and orphan processes and the family-based petition process:
- The family-based petition 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.
Under this process, an adopted child is considered to be the child (or adult son or daughter) of the adopting parent for immigration purposes if:
- The parent adopted the child before his or her 16th birthday (or before the 18th birthday under certain circumstances as described below) and provides 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-year 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, if:
- 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 family-based petition 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).
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (Green Card holders) may use this process.
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; or
- Married son or daughter.
For additional information on filing a petition on behalf of an immediate relative go to the Green Card page.
Permanent residents may file a petition for an adopted:
- Child (unmarried and under the age of 21); or
- Unmarried son or daughter over the age of 21.
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, see the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-130. For information on what supporting evidence to submit, see the Instructions for Form I-130 (PDF, 254 KB).
USCIS Policy for Determining Habitual Residence in the U.S. for Children of Hague Convention Countries
Generally, U.S. citizens must follow the Hague Adoption Convention process to adopt a child who is present in the United States and from a country that is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention. They must follow this process in order for the child to be eligible for lawful permanent resident status based on the adoption. However, under certain circumstances, U.S. citizens may file a Form I-130 for a child who is present in the United States if they can establish the Hague Adoption Convention does not apply to the adoption.
Specifically, USCIS may approve the Form I-130 if a U.S. citizen adoptive parent can establish that either:
- He or she was not habitually resident in the United States at the time of the adoption; or
- The child is not habitually resident in the Hague Convention country.
For additional information, please review the Oct. 21, 2008, Policy Memorandum Intercountry adoption under the Hague Adoption Convention and the USCIS Hague Adoption Convention rule at 8 CFR 204, 213a, and 322 (PDF, 99 KB) and the Nov. 20, 2017, Policy Memorandum Criteria for Determining Habitual Residence in the United States for Children from Hague Convention Countries (PDF, 404 KB).