Orphan Adoption and Eligibility

The U.S. orphan adoption program exempts qualified orphan adoptions from the two-year residence and legal custody requirements necessary to receiving immigration benefits. Qualified U.S. Citizens may petition to bring an adopted child to live in the U.S. under this program if the child falls under the definition of a foreign-born orphan.

  1. Who is considered a foreign-born orphan?

Under U.S. immigration law, a foreign-born child is an orphan if he does not have any parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents. A foreign-born child is also an orphan if his or her sole or surviving parent is not able to take proper care of the child and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption. For such a child to gain immigration benefits, an orphan petition must be filed before his or her 16th birthday.
An orphan petition may be filed before the 18th birthday for a child who is a natural sibling of an orphan or adopted child as provided above, and is adopted with or after that child, by the same adoptive parents.

  1. Who is eligible to file an orphan petition?

A married U.S. citizen and his spouse (no special age required) may file a petition for adoption of an orphan. The spouse does not need to be a U.S. citizen. However, the spouse must legally live in the United States. Also, an unmarried U.S. citizen of at least 25 years of age may file an orphan petition.

For other information about Adoption and Immigration, please click on one of the following topics below:

A Brief Background for Adoption
Who can be considered as a child?
What about an adopted child?
Adopted by a US Citizen
Adopted by a Permanent Resident
Adopted by an Alien with a Valid Non-immigration Visa
The Immigration Procedure for Adoption
Citizenship of the Adopted Child
Adopted Child and His Natural Parents


Orphan Adoption Program and Eligibility
Advance Processing and Orphan Petitions
The Immigration Procedure for Adopted Orphans
Citizenship of the Adopted Orphan


Hague Convention Adoption and Eligibility
Differences between Hague adoptions (I-800) and orphan adoptions (I-600)

Frequently Asked Question about Adoption and Immigration

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