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How do children obtain U.S. citizenship through foreign adoption?

Many couples and individuals in the Miami area seek to expand their family; however, not everyone is able to have children naturally. Therefore, families frequently turn to adoption when conception and a surrogate is not a viable option. While domestic adoptions are possible, these can be difficult to secure. Therefore, international adoptions are frequently used. While these adoption proceedings are common in the United States, parents intending to adopt a child from a foreign nation should understand that an immigrant visa is necessary to allow their child to immigrate to the U.S. and obtain citizenship.

How do children obtain U.S. citizenship through foreign adoption? Child citizenship through adoption can occur one of two ways. The first way is through a Hague adoption. If a child is being adoptions from a country that is a party of the Hague Convention, than either an IH-3 or IH-4 visa will be required for the child. The IH-3 is for a child with a full and final adoption that is entering the U.S. and the IH-4 visa is for a child coming to the U.S. to be adopted.

If the child intended for adoption is not from a Hague Convention country, then this is considered non-Hague adoption or orphan adoption. In an orphan adoption, an IR-3 or IR-4 visa is obtained. An IR-3 visa is issued when a full and final adoption is completed in the child's home country. This requires the adoptive parent or parent to physically see the child prior to the adoption proceedings or during it. An IR-4 visa is issued for a child that is traveling to the U.S.to be adopted, a child that was only adopted abroad by one parent in cases where there are two or was not seen by the parent or parents prior to or during the adoption.

Child citizenship is automatic when an adoptive child is issued an IR-3 or IH-3 visa so long as they entered before their 18th birthday and they reside in the U.S. with their adoptive parents. Children issued an IR-4 and IH-4 visas are not automatically provided citizenship when they enter the U.S, however, they are permanent residents and will automatically receive a green card. After going through the adoption process in the U.S., these children will automatically acquire citizenship so long as this occur before the child's 18th birthday.

Because these matters can become lengthy and complex, it is often helpful to seek guidance when issues occur or when any questions arise.

Source: Uscis.gov, "Before Your Child Immigrates to the United States," accessed March 7, 2016

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