Orphan Adoption Process
United States immigration law provides three different processes for immigrating based on an adoption. An individual may immigrate under one of these provisions only if their adoption meets all the requirements of that specific process. Two of these processes apply only to children adopted by U.S. citizens. The child may immigrate immediately after the adoption or may immigrate to the U.S. to be adopted under the:
- Orphan process if the Hague Adoption Convention does not apply; or
- Hague process if they are habitually resident in a country that is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention.
Another process, the family-based adoption petition process, may apply to certain U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents if the child was adopted before age 16 (or age 18 if an exception applies), and has been in the legal custody of and lived with (jointly resided with) the adoptive parent for at least two years.
For more information, go to our Adoption page.
Generally, a prospective adoptive parent may pursue the orphan process if:
- The child is not from a Hague Adoption Convention country Hague Adoption Convention country; and
- At least one of the adoptive parents is a U.S. citizen.
The orphan process involves USCIS determining the adoptive parent’s suitability and eligibility to adopt, and the child’s eligibility to immigrate as an orphan.
For more information on eligibility, go to our Orphan Process page.
How to File
- Read the instructions for Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition;
- Read the instructions for Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative;
- Complete and sign your forms;
- Pay the applicable filing fees; and
- Provide all required evidence and supporting documentation.
If you have questions after you file, you can contact our National Benefits Center adoptions unit.
After You File
Once we receive your forms, you will receive a:
- Receipt notice confirming we received your petition;
- Biometric services notice, if applicable;
- Notice to appear for an interview, if required; and
- Notice of our decision.