Obtaining a Lawful Permanent Residency through adoption has become a complex field of law, which requires adoptive parents to follow certain international treaties and procedures. Different sets of rules and procedures apply to obtaining an immigrant visa abroad depending whether the child is a habitual resident of a Hague Adoption Convention country or a Non-Hague Adoption Convention country. Further, Hague Adoption Convention applies only to adoption by a U.S. Citizen and it does not apply to adoption by a Lawful Permanent Resident.Hague Convention Adoption
The Hague Adoption Convention was entered into by over 70 countries to safeguard and unify the standards of international adoption, and to protect the best interests of the child. On April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention came in force for the United States. An adoption entered into before April 1, 2008, is not governed by the Hague Adoption Convention.
Hague Adoption Convention rules and procedures are mandatory if the inter-country adoption takes place between the United States and one of the Hague Adoption Convention countries. Additionally, Hague Adoption Convention procedures apply in every “orphan” adoption case involving Hague Adoption Convention countries. The Department of States website can be accessed for the current list of member countries to this Convention at: http://adoption.state.gov/hague_convention/countries.php. The Hague Adoption Convention does not apply to Lawful Permanent Residents (Green Card Holders). It only applies to adoptions by a U.S. citizen. It is worth mentioning here that the child's adoption and immigration are not regulated by the Hague Convention even if the Lawful Permanent Resident becomes a U.S. citizen later.
Non-Hague Convention Adoption
Certain countries are not members of the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore, Inter-country adoption between the United States and the non-Hague Adoption Convention countries must follow non-Hague Adoption Convention rules and procedures.Adopting a Relative Abroad
Foreign-born relatives can be adopted by the extended family members, if the child qualifies for adoption under U.S. law and their country's laws. Foreign-born children may qualify to immigrate to the United States if the following requirements are met:
- The adoption of the child must occur before their 16th birthday
- The adoptive parents must have legal custody of the child
- The adoptive parents must have resided with the child for at least two years at the time of filing an immigrant visa petition
A child who lives in a country that is a member of the Hague Adoption Convention must meet the Convention standard of an adoptee. The Department of State's website can be accessed for more information about adopting a relative at: http://adoption.state.gov/adoption_process/who_can_adopt/relatives.phpForeign Born Orphans
To qualify for an immigrant visa, a child in Hagur Adoption Convention countries must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee. A foreign-born child in non-Hague Adoption Convention countries must meet the U.S. definition of an orphan. A foreign-born child may qualify to immigrate to the United States as an orphan if the following requirements are met:
- Both of the child parents have died, or the child has a sole or surviving parent who is unable to care for the child and has released the child for emigration and adoption
- The immigrant visa petition must be filed with the USCIS before the child’s 16th birthday
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