Adoption is a complicated process, but it is perhaps one of the most wonderful things you will do in your life. Providing orphaned children with a loving and permanent home is one of the most direct ways you can make the world a better place. The United States of America is the #1 nation that supports inter-country adoption in the world. Inter-country adoption is when you adopt a children from a country other than your own through permanent legal means and the child lives in your country of residence with you, permanently. Although the process may be timely and complex, the regulations and rules are there to protect families and the children. We highly recommend visiting adoption.state.gov for the authoritative information on International (Inter-Country) Adoption. You can also review the text version of their helpful PDF on adoption here. We’ve also simplified much of the information here.
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Adoptions, Passports, and Visas
The adoption process is governed by the laws of the U.S. as well as the laws of the country in which the child lives. Under U.S. law, there are two distinct intercountry adoption processes: the Hague Convention process and the non-Hague Convention process. Which process you will follow will depend on whether or not the other country involved is also a party to the Hague Convention. Intercountry adoption is similar to domestic adoption as both deal with the legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities from a child’s birth parent(s) or other guardian to a new parent or parents.
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) governs adoptions between the United States and approximately 75 other nations. The U.S. Department of State is the U.S. Central Authority for the Hague Convention, and oversees compliance with both the Convention and the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA). This is to ensure that abduction, sale, or traffic of children does not happen. The Hague Adoption Convention protects children and their families against the risks of unregulated adoptions abroad, and ensures that inter-country (international) adoptions are in the best interests of the children involved. Also, the U.S. Department of State also serves as U.S. liaison with other adoption Central Authorities around the world. The protections of the Hague Adoption Convention to children and families may not apply to adoptions from countries not part of the Convention. Just because a child is adopted by U.S. citizens, the child does not automatically get citizenship. There are specific laws and regulations for adoption immigration. For more information about adoption immigration, please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services page. Learn more about each country by visiting the Adoption by Country Page.
Acquiring U.S. Citizenship for your Child
Child Citizenship Act
You will want to make sure that your adoption is processed completely and that the child obtains U.S. citizenship. Delaying this process will only make it harder down the line. The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 was passed to help make the process a bit easier. Under the Child Citizenship Act, children adopted abroad automatically acquire U.S. citizenship if at least one parent is a U.S. citizen and the child is under the age of 18, lives with the American citizen parent, has lawful permanent resident status, and the adoption is final. This is convenient because many parents no longer need to apply separately for the child’s naturalization and citizenship processing.
Other Options for Adoption Citizenship
Adopted children who enter the United States on IH-4 or IR-4 visas automatically acquire U.S. citizenship (assuming they are under 18) as of the date of their full and final adoption in the United States. You may get the Certificate of Citizenship once the adoption is finalized. with Form N-600. If you are a foreign-born, non-citizen adoptee who would like to apply for U.S. citizenship, please visit the USCIS web pages on naturalization.
Passport Name Change Due to Adoption
There are some caveats related to the passport name change process, depending on the passport type you need. For more information, please visit our helpful page regarding the Passport Name Change Due to Adoption.
- Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country
- Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative
- Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition
- Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
- Form DS-1981, Affidavit Concerning Exemption from Immigrant Vaccination Requirements for a Foreign Adopted Child
- Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
- Form DS-5509, Application for U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Custody Declaration
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-134, Affidavit of Support
- Form N-600, Application for Certificate of Citizenship
- Form N-600K, Application for Citizenship and Issuance of Certificate Under Section 322
More Information on International Adoptions
We encourage you to begin directly on the U.S. government’s website for International Adoptions. Use the U.S. Department of State’s FAQ section or contact them directly: