American citizens are seeking to adopt children in ever increasing numbers. With the reduction in children available for adoption in the United States, more and more U.S. citizens have adopted children from other countries. This year, thousands of children came to the United States from foreign countries, either adopted abroad by U.S. citizens or as potential adoptee.
Adoptive and prospective adoptive parent(s) must comply with U.S. immigration procedures, initiated through the USCIS in the United States in order to bring an adoptive child to the U.S. Simply locating a child in a foreign country and going to the U.S. Embassy to obtain a visa for the child will not meet these requirements. An orphan cannot be brought to the United States without a visa, which is based upon a USCIS approved petition (form I-600).
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The Foreign Adoption Process
Although adoption procedures vary from country to country, most countries require that prior to any court action, a child placed for adoption be legally recognized as an orphan or, in the case where a parent is living, be legally and irrevocably released for adoption in a manner provided for under local foreign law. In addition, the adoption laws in most countries require the full adoption of the child in the foreign court after the child has been declared an orphan or released by the living parent to an appropriate foreign authority.
When the foreign adoption (or guardianship process in those countries that allow guardianship) is completed, the adoptive parent(s) can apply for an immigrant visa (IR-3 for a child adopted abroad or IR-4 for a child to be adopted in the United States) at the appropriate U.S. consular office abroad. In addition to the notification of the approved I-600 petition from the INS, the consular officer also requires specific documentation to conduct a visa interview and to approve visa issuance.
Validity of Foreign Adoptions in the United States
In most cases, the formal adoption of a child in a foreign court is legally acceptable in the United States. A U.S. state court, however, is not required to automatically recognize a foreign adoption decree. This does not suggest that the United States does not respect foreign procedures or recognize the authority of the foreign country in relation to the child. Nonetheless, the status of the involved child may be subject to challenge in state court unless an adoption decree is entered in a state in the United States.
Automatic Acquisition of U.S. Citizenship for an Adopted Child
How is this possible?
On February 27, 2001, the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 became effective. The aim of this law, which, among other things, amends Section 320 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), is to facilitate the automatic acquisition of U.S. citizenship for both biological and adopted children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad and who do not acquire U.S. citizenship at birth.
What are the requirements?
The following are the Act's requirements:
- At least one parent of the child must be a U.S. citizen, either by birth or naturalization.
- The child must be under the age of 18.
- In the case of an adopted child, the adoption must be final.
How can we assist you with the adoption process?
Our firm specializes in the area of U.S. Immigration law with special emphasis on international adoptions. We can assist you with your adoption needs in almost every country around the world with the adoption and other legal matters involved.
Our philosophy is to get involved in the process from the start. We can help you located the best adoption agency to process the home study in the US and will work with the agency to produce the best results. We will file the Orphan petition with the Immigration service in your state and will work closely with the Immigration officers to insure smooth processing.
Once the case is approved by the US immigration in the United States, the file will be sent to the US Embassy in the foreign country. At that point we will work closely with the Consular officer to provide all the necessary paperwork to ensure a quick adjudication. Once the case is approved, the child will be issued an immigrant visa and will be allowed to enter the US. If the child is under 18 he will acquire automatic US citizenship and our office will assist you to obtain his passport.
Our law firm is unique in the sense that we can help you locate foreign counsel, as well as other service providers in the foreign country. Most attorneys will leave it up to the family to deal with such issues and will work with any professional that the family can find. Our aim is to find the best contacts in order to avoid delays and any potential fraud issues. We provide periodical updates on the case and serve as the main contact for the family throughout the processing of the case.
Feel free to contact our office at 619 819 92 04 with any questions or if you wish to contact a past client for references and shared experiences.