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International adoption and visa requirements

When a Florida couple intends to adopt a child from a foreign country, the couple will need to make certain they have sought and obtained the required visas for their child. Children who are being adopted from abroad are required to enter the country on an immigrant visa.

There are different child immigrant visas that may be issued, depending on whether the child comes from a Hague Convention country or a non-Hague Convention country. Children whose adoptions are finalized in a Hague Convention country need an IH-3 visa from the U.S. embassy or consular office in the foreign country. Those who are immigrating to the U.S. from a Hague country whose adoptions will be finalized after arrival will require an IH-4 visa.

When a full adoption is finalized abroad in a non-Hague country, the child will need an IR-3 visa. Children arriving before age 18 on IR-3 and IH-3 visas will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship after arrival. Those with IR-4 and IH-4 visas will become lawful permanent residents after arriving. If their subsequent adoptions occur prior to their 18th birthdays, they will acquire U.S. citizenship at the time of adoption. For children who are under the age of 21 who are adopted by a U.S. citizen, an IR-2 visa may be available. The age limit does not apply to those over 21 who are under the provisions of the Child Status Protection Act.

When preparing to get the correct child immigrant visa for an international adoption, parents need to make certain they have all of the required documentation for their child. Because the requirements can be complicated, many Florida parents choose to seek the help of an immigration and naturalization attorney. An attorney may be able to help collect the required documentation and file the immigration petition.

Source: US CIS, "Before Your Child Immigrates to the United States", December 24, 2014

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