Orphan Adoption from a Non-Hague Convention Country

A separate process applies to children adopted from non-Hague Adoption Convention countries. Such children must qualify as orphans, as defined by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), before they can be considered for U.S. permanent residence or citizenship. This type of adoption is known as orphan adoption.

U.S. Law and the Definition of Orphan

  • The child must have no parents, or a sole or surviving parent who is unable to care for the child and has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
  • The child must be under the age of 16 at the time an I-600 petition is filed on his or her behalf with the USCIS or a consular officer abroad. A child adopted at age 16 or 17 will also qualify, provided he or she is the birth sibling of a child adopted, or who will be adopted, under the age of 16 by the same adopting parents.
  • The adopting parents must have completed a full and final adoption of the child, or must have legal custody of the child for purposes of emigration and adoption in the United States.
  • The child has been, or will be, adopted by a married U.S. citizen and spouse jointly, or by an unmarried U.S. citizen at least 25 years of age, with the intent of forming a bona fide parent/child relationship.

Visa Types for Non-Convention Adoptions

Children adopted in non-Convention countries receive IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visas.

  • IR-3 visas are issued after a full and final adoption is completed abroad by both adopting parents; both parents physically see the child prior to or during local adoption proceedings; and the country in which the child resides does not require re-adoption in the United States. Children who are under 18 automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry to the United States on IR-3 visas. In such cases, the USCIS automatically sends Certificates of Citizenship without requiring additional forms or fees.
  • IR-4 visas are issued to children for whom a full and final adoption will be completed in the United States. This classification is used when a foreign country only permits prospective adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of a child, rather than allowing a full and final adoption; and/or the prospective adoptive parent(s) have not seen and observed the child prior to the adoption process. Orphans admitted to the United States on IR-4 visas become lawful permanent residents and are automatically processed to receive an Alien Registration Card ("green card"). See our web page on the Child Citizenship Act for more information.

For more detailed information on immigration Process for Orphan Adoption from a Non-Hague Convention Country, please visit on one of the following relevant links: