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.
- 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.
- Advance Processing of an Orphan Adoption
To bring the adopted orphan into the U.S. quickly, the eligible U.S. citizen may apply for advance processing before he actually finds an orphan to adopt. An application for advance processing may be filed by anyone eligible to file an orphan petition. An unmarried U.S. citizen may file an application for advance processing if the U.S. citizen is at least 24 years of age and will be at least 25 when an orphan petition is filed on behalf of the actual child.
Before the applicant identifies a foreign-born child to adopt, he may file Form I-600A (Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition), which allows the USCIS (formerly called the INS) to first process the application that relates to the applicant's ability to provide a proper home environment and his suitability as a parent. Then, once an orphan is identified, the applicant must file Form I-600 (Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative) on behalf of the adopted child.
- Information required about the U.S. applicant for filing I-600A and I-600
The applicant for the adoption must provide the following information:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship;
- Evidence of the spouse's U.S. citizenship or lawful legal status if the applicant is married and living in the U.S.;
- Proof that the applicant and applicant's spouse are married and that any previous marriages ended legally;
- A complete and current home study within prescribed time limits;
- Proof that the applicants comply with the pre-adoption requirements of the state in which they will live with the adopted child;
- The required filing fee for the application; and
- Fingerprints of each adult member of the adoptive household and a $50 fingerprinting fee for each member.
- Information required about the adopted orphan child for filing I-600
The following information about the adopted child should be presented:
- The child's birth certificate or, if the certificate is unavailable, evidence of the child's age and identity;
- Proof that the child is an orphan as defined by immigration law;
- A final decree of adoption, if applicable;
- Proof of legal custody of the child for emigration and adoption, if applicable; and
- Proof of compliance with pre-adoption requirements, if applicable.
- Exemption of the Two-year Residence and Legal Custody Requirements for Orphan Adoption
Orphan adoptions are exempt from the two-year residence and legal custody requirements for immigration. However, such adoptions must comply with local state adoption rules.
The applicant should file the advanced processing application (I-600A) with the USCIS Service Center that serves the area where he lives.