Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers | Obtaining an Immigrant Visa for Adopted Children

Deciding to adopt a child from another country is an exciting event.  Prospective parents will put a lot of time and energy, as well as financial resources into the process.  There are certain steps involved for adopting a child from another country, but there are specific rules that must be followed when adopting from a Hague Convention member country.

In 1993, the Hague Convention on the Protection of Children and Co-Operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption established a strict set of procedural requirements that must be followed.  These requirements were set in place to protect the rights of the children as well as the birth and adoptive parents.  Once the requirements are fulfilled, the adoption process continues as set forth by U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

When adopting a child from a member country of the Hague Convention, the first requirement is to choose an accredited and approved U.S. adoption agency.  The role of the agency is to ensure that all legal requirements are satisfied.  Once the provider is established, the adoptive parents can file a parental eligibility form with the USCIS.   At this point, the prospective parents will need to be fingerprinted, undergo a thorough background check, and complete a home study.

The home study is a vital step in determining a prospective parents’ eligibility to adopt. The parents and all adult members of the household will be interviewed and evaluated in the home for their mental, emotional, and physical abilities.  A thorough evaluation of the family’s finances will also be conducted, including an extensive review of income, debts, and financial obligations.  The home will be meticulously evaluated along with the prospective parents’ lifestyle and living conditions.  All adult members of the family will be screened for criminal records, specifically for child abuse, domestic violence, sexual abuse, or substance abuse, and for any previous home studies that may have been unfavorable. Adoptions from non-Hague member countries also include a home study which is conducted according to federal regulations.

Once the necessary application paperwork and home study is completed within the U.S., the prospective parents can apply to the country of origin from which they will adopt.  That country’s central authority will review the prospective parents’ eligibility and will then match them with a child.  Once a child has been found and all of the necessary agreements have been filed by the birth parents, the central authority will send a referral that includes the child’s photograph, social and medical history, family background, as well as any special needs the child may have.

If the referral is accepted, the prospective parents will petition the USCIS for provisional eligibility for a U.S. adoption.  Once eligibility is confirmed, an application for an immigrant visa can be submitted to the child’s home country.  Once that application is approved, the parents will then officially adopt the child or become the legal guardian, which permits them to apply for an immigrant visa for the child to enter the United States with the intention of permanent residency once the adoption is finalized.  The family will be interviewed by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the child’s country, and given a birth certificate and passport to enter the United States.

Adopting a child from a non-Hague Convention member country requires the child to be identified as an orphan under the definition supplied by the INA.  The adoptive parents must complete the adoption or obtain legal guardianship of the child in their home country before bringing the child to the United States.  As such, the child will not require an immigrant visa, but will need to apply for an IR-3 or an IR-4 visa, generally referred to as a “Green Card.”  After the child is confirmed as an orphan, the parents can submit their home study, fingerprints, and background checks to authenticate their eligibility to adopt.   The embassy in the child’s country of origin will then submit the necessary paperwork, schedule a visa interview, and then issue the actual visa.

Though the adoptions of Hague Adoption Convention or Non-Hague Adoption Convention children can seem lengthy and overwhelming, the process ensures that children and parents in both countries are protected at every step along the way.

The Philadelphia Immigration Law Firm of Surin & Griffin, PC Represents Clients in all Areas of Immigration Law

If you or someone you know is considering adopting a child from another country, it is important to consult an experienced immigration lawyer that can help you satisfy the requirements of the law.  The intercountry adoption process is complicated and can become very overwhelming.  If you are unfamiliar with the legal requirements for international adoption, the process can be long and arduous.

Contact the experienced and highly skilled Philadelphia immigration lawyers at Surin & Griffin at 215-925-4435 or complete the online contact form to schedule a consultation today.  Conveniently located in the heart of center city Philadelphia, our office has easy access to all major forms of public transportation.  Our multi-lingual immigration attorneys are dedicated to helping you understand all aspects of the legal immigration process while protecting your rights under the law.