Should I re-adopt my child once I return to the United States?


Please note that re-adoption and naturalization are two separate processes.

If the child is fully adopted overseas, there is no federal requirement for re-adoption in the United States. Even though re-adoption may not be required, the adopting parents may choose to re-adopt the child for specific reasons, such as to re-name the child or to obtain a state birth certificate. It is important to review the requirements of one's state of residence on these issues; state laws differ, and often counties within a state will have varying regulations as well. Many adoption practitioners recommend that the child adopted overseas be re-adopted in a court of the family�s state of residence in the United States as a precautionary measure.

Re-adoption of a child IS required in the United States when an IR-4 immigrant visas has been issued to a adopted child by a Consular Officer overseas. Re-adoption is not required for IR-3 orphan visas, but IR-3 visas can only be issued when a full and final adoption overseas has been completed and both parents have seen the child prior to or during the overseas adoption. Under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, an adopted child who has been issued an IR-3 immigrant visa ("Orphan adopted broad by a U.S. citizen") automatically becomes a U.S. citizen immediately upon his/her admission into the United States in the legal and physical custody of his/her U.S. citizen adoptive parent. A child, however, who has been has been admitted into the United States having been issued an IR-4 immigrant visa ("Orphan to be adopted in the United States by a U.S. citizen") becomes a U.S. citizen only when the adoption has been finalized in the United States and a legal parent-child relationship has thereby been created.

If you are seeking information regarding re-adoption practices in your state of residency, contact that state's Adoption Specialist, an adoption lawyer practicing in that state, or a private adoption agency licensed in that state.  A listing of state resources, web sites and telephone numbers is available from the National Adoption Information Clearinghouse (NAIC)in their National Adoption Directory, published annually.


Entering the United States for the first time with an adopted child


Documentation at the Port of Entry

When entering the United States for the first time with an adopted child, the parent(s) should be prepared to leave certified, required copies of all adoption documents at the airport with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) officers. Remember to keep copies of every thing turned over to the port of entry USCIS officer.

Immigrant visas for children adopted abroad

A child adopted in a foreign country or coming to the United States for adoption must have an immigrant visa. There are three different types of immigrant visas, and the kind your child will need depends on the adoption situation. For any of these visas, the child must be under 16 years of age (siblings adopted at the same time may be over 16 years of age):

IR-2 Immigrant Visa

An IR-2 visa is issued when the child is adopted overseas and has resided with the US citizen parent(s) for at least two years overseas, with the parent having full legal and physical custody.

It is important to be able to show evidence of "physical and legal custody" of the child. Keep records of when the child entered into your family under your care. With IR-2 visas, a home study is not required.

IR-3 Immigrant Visa

The child who is fully adopted overseas but has not resided with the adopting parents (the parents are either in the U.S., in the foreign country where the child resides, or in a third country) may enter the U.S. on this visa. For the child to be considered fully "adopted abroad," the adoptive parent(s) must have seen the child overseas.

To qualify for an IR-3 immigrant visa, the following requirements must be met:

the child must meet the U.S. definition of an orphan,
the prospective parents must have met all pre-adoption U.S. state requirements (including having conducted a home study); and
the parents must have seen the child at least once either before or during the adoption process in the foreign country where the child resides.

Consular officers cannot approve and issue an immigrant visa for an adoptive child without a USCIS-approved I-600 (Orphan Petition Request form). The USCIS will investigate the merits of the Orphan Petition and notify the Consulate if they can issue the immigrant visa.

IR-4 Immigrant Visa

The IR-4 visa is issued in cases where the child is to be adopted in the United States. There are several reasons why an IR-4 visa could be issued:

prospective parents were given only guardianship or legal custody or the country does not issue foreign adoption decrees as in many middle-eastern/African Islamic countries where only guardianship is awarded; and/or
parents did not see the child prior to adoption; and/or
the home state in the U.S. does not recognize adoption in a foreign country as a full and final adoption; and/or
IR-4 visas are issued only after verification that the pre-adoption requirements for the state where the child will be adopted and domiciled have been met. A home study is required. Re-adoption is necessary in the U.S. state of residency where the child will reside.