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Adoption of Orphans (Non-Hague)

Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the Orphan process before they begin filing applications for a particular child. A good place to start is with the booklet, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children (Form M-249), available from the links below.

There are two legal ways to bring an adoptive child not habitually residing in a Hague Convention country into the United States. Please review the differences, as they are important to your successful adoption.

  • Immigration/Adoption of child based on 2-years residence through submitting Form I-130: If you adopt a child before the child turns 16 (or 18, as described below), and you live with the child for two years as the child's primary caregiver, then you may file an I-130 petition for an alien relative. The petition may be filed after the 16th (or 18th if a sibling) birthday, and the two years may culminate after the 16th (or 18th) birthday. (Please note that, generally all qualifying criteria must be established before the child may enter the U.S.)
  • Immigration/Adoption of an orphan through submitting Form I-600: If you adopt or intend to adopt a child who meets the legal definition of an orphan, you may petition for that child at any time prior to the child's 16th (or 18th, as described below) birthday, even if the adoption takes place subsequently (and in certain cases, the adoption does not occur until the child comes to the U.S.). This process usually commences with prospective parents filing Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition.

If you are interested in adopting a child from a particular country, click here >

The adoption of a child habitually residing in a non-Hague Convention country is essentially a private legal matter between a private individual (or couple) who wishes to adopt, and a foreign court, which operates under that country's laws and regulations. U.S. authorities cannot intervene on behalf of prospective parents with the courts in the country where the adoption takes place. The adoption of a foreign-born orphan does not automatically guarantee the child's eligibility to immigrate to the United States. Also, the adoptive parent needs to be aware of U.S. immigration law and legal regulatory procedures. An orphan cannot legally immigrate to the United States without USCIS processing.

Adopting Older Children - "Aging Out" of eligibility to Immigrate Through Adoption

If you are considering adopting an older child, you should be aware of the age limits on eligibility for adoptions and immigration, regardless of whether or not your state laws permit the adoption of older children (or even adults).

U.S. law allows the adoption and immigration of children who are under 16 years of age, with two exceptions:

  • Biological siblings of a child adopted by the same parents may be adopted if under 18 years of age
  • Orphans over the age of 16 may be adopted, as long as the I-600 petition was filed on their behalf before their 16th birthday (or before their 18th birthday, in the case of an orphan who is the sibling of a child adopted or coming to be adopted by the same parents).

If you intend to adopt a child from a non-Hague Adoption Convention country, then you may submit Form I-600A to USCIS in order to determine your eligibility and suitability as a prospective adoptive parent. Form I-600 must be submitted to determine the eligibility of the child as an adoptee.