U.S. Citizen Petition for an Adopted Child
Each year, thousands of U.S. citizens adopt children from overseas. As a U.S. citizen you may petition for your adoptive child through an immediate relative petition. Your child will receive an immigrant visa if we find them eligible.
The Hague Adoption Convention is an international agreement to safeguard intercountry adoptions. Generally, you must follow the Hague Adoption Convention process and file Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, to adopt a child from a country that is a party to the Hague Adoption Convention. However, under certain circumstances, you may file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for a child from a Hague Adoption Convention country if you can establish that the Hague Adoption Convention does not apply to the adoption.
For general immigration purposes, we consider an adopted child to be your child (or adult son or daughter) if:
- You adopted the child before their 16th birthday (or before their 18th birthday, under certain circumstances as described below) and provide evidence of a full and final adoption; and
- You had legal custody of and jointly resided with the child for at least two years while the child was under age 21.
- The legal custody must have been the result of a formal grant of custody from a court or other governmental entity;
- You may meet the legal custody and joint residence requirement by custody and residence that preceded the adoption;
- The two-year time period does not need to be continuous and may be counted in the aggregate (meaning a total period of time);
- If you and your spouse adopted the child, you cannot split the two years of legal custody and joint residence between each other, but only one of you must meet this requirement; and
- We will waive the two-year legal custody and joint residence requirements for certain abused children.
We still consider a child to be an adopted child if they were adopted after their 16th birthday, but before their 18th birthday, if:
- The child is the birth sibling of another child that you (and/or your spouse) adopted 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 that you (and/or your spouse) adopted before the other child’s 16th birthday and who immigrated as an orphan.
Please visit our Other Adoption-Related Immigration page for more information.
How to File
You may file online or by paper.
Create a USCIS online account to file online and:
- Submit evidence and pay fees electronically;
- Receive case status updates about your case and see complete case history;
- Communicate with us securely and directly; and
- Respond to Requests for Evidence.
File by Paper
- Read the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative;
- Complete and sign your Form I-130;
- Pay the filing fee, if applicable; and
- Provide all required evidence and supporting documentation.
After You File
Forms and Fees
- Form I-130
- Use our Fee Calculator to help determine your fee.