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

Who can file Form I-130 on behalf of an adopted child?

A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) may file Form I-130 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 jointly resided with you and you must have had legal custody of the child (as a result of a formal grant of custody from a court or authorized governmental entity) for at least two years.
    • The legal custody and joint 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 legal custody. 
    • If your child is or was habitually resident in a Hague Convention country before the adoption and you adopted the child on or after April 1, 2008, the two-year legal custody and joint residence requirement generally must be satisfied outside the United States. 

If you are an adoptive parent who intends to travel to the United States for a temporary visit and plan to return to your residence abroad, you may wish to explore the N-600K naturalization process for your child.

Where do I file Form I-130?

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

If you are a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident adoptive parent, you may file Form I-130 with the U.S. Department of State at a U.S Embassy or Consulate in certain circumstances described in USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part B, Chapter 3

U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident adoptive parents residing in England or Ghana:

As of Feb. 1, 2020, we no longer accept and adjudicate Form I-130 petitions at our international field offices. However, the USCIS field offices in Accra, Ghana; and London, England; will continue to accept and adjudicate Forms I-130 until April 1, 2020, if you reside in-country and file on behalf of your adopted child. In this case, you do not have to establish any exceptional circumstances.

Under what circumstances can I file my Form I-130 petition at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate?

If you are an U.S. citizen adoptive parent living abroad who has adopted a child abroad and there is an imminent need to depart the country, DOS may determine that this meets one of our exceptional circumstance criteria described in USCIS Policy Manual Volume 6, Part B, Chapter 3 and choose to accept the filing. 

Some examples of imminent need to depart may include emergent medical needs, changed country conditions, or a job offer or job relocation. In addition, there may be other exceptional circumstances or a blanket authorization based on which DOS may choose to accept the filing. For more information and to see whether you meet any of the required criteria, please see the USCIS Policy Manual, Volume 6, Part B, Chapter 3. 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. 

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

Please refer to the Form I-130 webpage, which outlines the requirements for filing. 

If I believe I meet the criteria to file Form I-130 abroad with the Department of State, 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 that you would like to request local processing of your Form I-130 before attempting to file so you can 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. 

You will need to 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 they are competent to translate from the original language into English and that the translation is a complete and accurate translation of the entire document.

If the U.S. Embassy or Consulate accepts your Form I-130, they will proceed with the adjudication. If they do not accept the filing, DOS will notify you that they denied the request and provide information about the Form I-130 filing process in accordance with the form instructions. 

If they approve your petition, you will also need to file a visa application. You may ask the consular officer about the procedures and timing for filing a visa application. For more information, go to usembassy.gov

If I requested that DOS accept my Form I-130 filing but DOS declined to accept it, can I appeal that decision?

No, there is no right to appeal, motion, or otherwise request reconsideration of a DOS or USCIS processing decision, including a DOS decision to decline to process Form I-130 on an exceptional basis or under a USCIS blanket authorization.

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