Visas and your adopted child

If you are adopting or intend to adopt a child from overseas, there are many preparations you have to make. From getting everything ready for your new arrival at home to coordinating travel schedules, time off work and agency fees, you have a lot on your plate. Another necessary step will be to acquire a visa for your child. This must be done before your child enters the country, and the visas will be issued at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country where your child currently lives. Which type you get will impact the way you will ensure U.S. citizenship for your child. Let’s review.

For Hague adoptions
These visas are issued for children coming from Hague Convention countries. This includes many nations, and you should consult a listing to determine whether the country your child is from is a Hague Convention country.

“The type of visa your child receives is important.”

If your child has been fully and finally adopted before he or she enters the U.S., you will apply for an IH-3 visa. On the other hand, an IH-4 visa is for children whose adoptions will be finalized when they enter the U.S.

Orphan or non-Hague adoptions
For all non-Hague adoptions, you’ll need a different route to a visa for your child. This will mean either an IR-3 or​ an IR-4 visa. An IR-3 visa requires that the adoption is full and final when completed abroad, and that at least one parent has physically seen the child before or during the adoption. If the child is coming to the U.S. to be adopted, was adopted abroad by only one married parent or wasn’t seen by the parents prior to adoption, you will need to get an IR-4 visa.

Child citizenship
All children with IR-3 and IH-3 visas will automatically become U.S. citizens if they enter the country before their 18th birthdays and reside in the U.S. with their parents (unless their parents are U.S. government or military employees living overseas).

If your child acquires an IR-4 or IH-4 visa, he or she will receive a green card and become a permanent resident upon arrival in the U.S. On his or her adoption date, provided it is before his or her 18th birthday, he or she will become a U.S. citizen.