Hague Visa ProcessLast Updated: November 2012
U.S. Law and the Definition of Convention Adoptee
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended by the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA), defines a child residing in a Convention country who is eligible for intercountry adoption as a Convention adoptee. This definition includes the following elements:
- The child must be under the age of 16 at the time the immigrant visa petition (Form I-800) is filed on his or her behalf (taking into account special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16); or aged 16-17 and the biological sibling of a child already adopted or to be adopted by the same prospective adoptive parents; or 18 on or after April 1, 2008, the biological sibling of a child already adopted or to be adopted by the same prospective adoptive parents, and with a Form I-800 filed with USCIS by November 30, 2012 on his or her behalf. The child must also be unmarried and live in a Convention country.
- The child has been adopted or will be adopted by a married U.S. citizen and spouse jointly, or by an unmarried U.S. citizen at least 25 years of age, habitually resident in the United States, whom USCIS has found suitable and eligible to adopt (by approving Form I-800A), with the intent of creating a legal parent-child relationship.
- The child's birth parent(s) or other legal custodian, individuals, or entities whose consent is necessary for adoption, have given freely their written, irrevocable consent for the termination of their legal relationship with the child and to the child's emigration and adoption.
- The child has been adopted or will be adopted in the United States or in the Convention country according to the rules and procedures of the Hague Adoption Convention and the IAA.
Visa Types for Hague Adoptions
Children adopted under the Hague Adoption Convention receive IH-3 or IH-4 visas.
- IH-3 visas are for children who are adopted in a Hague Convention country. Children who are under 18 generally acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry to the United States on an IH-3 visa. In such cases, USCIS automatically sends Certificates of Citizenship without requiring additional forms or fees.
- IH-4 visas are for children coming from a Convention country who will be adopted in the United States. IH-4 recipients do not automatically acquire U.S. citizenship, but are lawful permanent residents until the adoption is full and final. See our web page on the Child Citizenship Act for more information.