The issue of immigrants entering and remaining in the United States has become the hottest issue of the day. National and state officials are publicly, and often bitterly, debating topics surrounding enforcement of current immigration laws, the status of DREAMers and so-called “sanctuary cities,” legal residency, and deportation of potential violators.
To make matter more confusing, while the debate continues… many U.S. citizens are hoping to adopt a non-U.S. minor legally, but are not sure how to proceed.
This action, also known as intercountry adoption, is complicated and, for many reasons, requires the assistance of a qualified Adoption Attorney, one who specializes in immigration and citizenship matters.
The intercountry adoption process requires that adoptive parents abide by the laws and regulations of:
- U.S. Department of State
- The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS)
- Your State
- Laws of the child’s country of origin
- International Law
Understanding and meeting all these responsibilities require knowledge of the rules, proper interpretation and compliance, and meeting document requirements promptly.
U.S. Requirements for Intercountry Adoption
According to the USCIS guidelines, the USCIS is responsible for:
- Determining the eligibility of the adoptive parents
- Determining the admissibility of the child for adoption
In each case, at least one adopting parent of a foreign-born minor must be a United States citizen at least 25 years of age.
USCIS defines possible avenues for adoption. These are:
Hague Process: The Hague Adoption Convention establishes international safeguards to protect children, birth parents, and adoptive parents from abuses during an intercountry adoption process.
With assistance from a qualified Immigration and Adoption Attorney, hopeful adoptive parents must complete a Form I-800A, Application to Determine the Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. Also, the hopeful parents must file a petition with the USCIS to qualify the child to immigrate to the United States.
Once approved, parents may obtain an immigrant visa for the child, and finally, welcome their adopted child into the United States.
Orphan Process (Non-Hague): U.S. adopting parents may apply to adopt a foreign child who has not yet been identified by completing a Form I-600A, an application pertaining to the advanced approval to adopt. This petition prequalifies parents to adopt once an orphan is identified.
Once approved, the Department of State or USCIS will investigate to determine if a candidate child is an orphan without parents or having a parent unable to care for the child.
Immediate Relative Petition
Prospective adoptive parents of orphan relatives must complete a Form I-600 Petition to Classify an Orphan as an Immediate Relative before proceeding.
Adoption of an Illegal Immigrant Child
Adoption of a child of undocumented immigrants who is already in the United States is becoming a meaningful subgroup of the intercountry adoption process. Specific conditions must be met to accomplish adoption. These are:
- The child must be no older than 16 years when the adoption is finalized. Since the process may take a long time, prospective parents should begin as early as possible.
- The child must live with the adoptive parents who have legal custody for at least two years before filing a visa petition for residency. Adoptive parents should know that legal custody does not protect the child from possible deportation, however.
- At least one adoptive parent should be a legal U.S. Citizen. Although theoretically possible, legal permanent residents would have a difficult time meeting all requirements to adopt a foreign child.
- If the legal residency petition for the child is approved and other requirements for citizenship are met, the child should be eligible for U.S. Citizenship in the future.
As you see, the process of adopting a foreign child can be complicated. Improperly filed petitions, misunderstanding of regulations, and incomplete documentation will cause delays and possible rejection.
An experienced immigration and adoption attorney will help to make the adoption experience a pleasant one.
We realize there is a great deal “at stake” with adoptions. During your free consultation, we will listen to you specific objectives and take time to answer your questions and discuss options regarding the adoption of a foreign child.
For your free consultation regarding intercountry adoption or other immigration, residency, or citizenship issues, call Nanthaveth & Associates at 512.371.9000. Or, fill out the simple Contact Us form and a certified Adoption Attorney will contact you for the consultation.
About Nanthaveth & Associates:
Nanthaveth & Associates, PLLC is a trusted immigration law firm located in Austin, Texas. Immigration law experts at Nanthaveth and Associates are prepared to provide legal counsel for businesses, families and individuals in the areas of green cards, deportation, adjustment of status, work visas and investor visa applications, family-sponsored immigration, employer compliance, self-petitions, permanent residence, naturalization, waivers, appeals, foreign adoptions, mediation and more.
For Austin, TX immigration help call Nanthaveth & Associates at 512.371.9000.