International Adoption: Hague Process
(Hague Intercountry Adoption Immigration Process)
- Am I Eligible to Adopt through the Hague Process?
- Steps of the Hague International Adoption Process
- Application for International Adoption by the Hague Process
- Will the Child I Adopt Automatically Become a US Citizen?
- Checking the Status of an Application for Adoption Immigration
- Appealing if an Application is Denied for Adoption Immigration
- Help! with International Adoption by the Hague Process
The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international treaty that applies to all adoptions between the United States and the other counties that have joined it. It was designed to establish international standards for intercountry (international) adoptions that protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents. The Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008. To determine if you are adopting from a Hague Convention country, see International Adoption by Country.
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Habitually reside in the United States
- If you are married, your spouse must also intend to adopt the child and must sign the immigration application
- If you are not married, you must be at least 24 years of age when you file your Form I-800A, and you must be 25 years of age when you file your Form I-800 (see Application for International Adoption by the Hague Process below).
- Obtain a favorable Hague Adoption Home Study
- Choose a Hague Accredited Adoption Service Provider, and perhaps also an immigration attorney (this link will help you find the right lawyer for your case). An adoption service provider cannot provide legal advice or legal services to you, or represent you before USCIS.
- Obtain a home study from someone authorized to complete a Hague Adoption Home Study
- Apply to USCIS before adopting a child or accepting a placement for a determination that one is suitable for intercountry adoption.
- After USCIS approves the application, work with the adoption service provider to obtain a proposed adoption placement
- File a petition with USCIS, before adopting the child, to have the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United States based on the proposed adoption
- Adopt the child, or obtain custody of the child in order to adopt the child in the United States
- Obtain an immigrant visa for the child
- Bring the child to the United States for admission with the visa
Application for International Adoption by the Hague Process
Submit USCIS Form I-800A (Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country) to USCIS in order to establish your eligibility and suitability to adopt.
After USCIS approves your Form I-800A, apply to the officially designated Central Authority of the other country (for Hague Convention adoptions) for a specific adoption placement.
Once the Central Authority has proposed placing a child with you for adoption, but before you actually adopt the child, you must file USCIS Form I-800 (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative) with USCIS on behalf of the child to be adopted, to determine the child's eligibility as a Convention adoptee, before adopting or obtaining legal custody of the child. For a child to be classified as a Hague Convention Adoptee, the child must meet the following criteria:
- Under the age of 16 at the time of filing Form I-800
- Habitually reside in a Convention country
- Determined to be eligible for intercountry adoption by the officially designated Central Authority of that country for Hague Convention adoptions, and have obtained all necessary consents for adoption
If you are married, your spouse must also sign the Form I-800 and adopt the child. If you are not married, you must be at least 25 when you file the Form I-800.
If you have reason to believe that the child you wish to adopt may be inadmissible to the United States (on medical grounds, for example), you may file USCIS Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility, with Form I-800.
After USCIS provisionally approves your Form I-800, you may apply for a visa for the child and may complete the adoption of the child (or obtain custody to bring the child to the United States for adoption), once the Department of State advises you to do so.
NOTE: The adoption MUST NOT take place prior to filing Form I-800A/I-800, because doing so contradicts the Hague Convention agreement.
See form instructions for where to file. Immigration forms are available online or by calling 1-800-870-3676. Further information on immigration forms, filing fees, and fee waivers is available in USCIS Forms / INS Forms and Other US Immigration Forms, Fees & Filing Locations.
If your child immigrates to the US with full and final adoption from a Hague Convention country, your child will be issued an IH-3 visa and automatically acquire citizenship if your child:
- enters the United States prior to your child’s 18th birthday
- is under 18 years old, he/she is automatically a U.S. citizen upon admission to the United States
- your child resides in the United States with his/her parents (U.S. government or military personnel assigned overseas may qualify as residing in the United States)
In this case, USCIS will automatically send your child’s Certificate of Citizenship to your U.S. address without requiring additional forms or fees.
If your child immigrates to the US from a Hague Convention country to be adopted, your child will be issued an IH-4 visa and will not acquire automatic citizenship upon entry to the U.S. but instead:
- become a permanent resident
- automatically receive a Green Card (permanent resident card)
- automatically acquire citizenship on the date of his/her adoption in United States, if the adoption occurs before the child’s 18th birthday
Checking the Status of an Application for Adoption Immigration
You may check the status of your application or case online, by phone, or by contacting an appropriate USCIS office. For details see USCIS Case Status: Check USCIS Case Status for Visas and Immigration. You may also want to review US Visa Wait Times and USCIS Immigration Processing Times. For more assistance, see HELP! (below).
Appealing if an Application is Denied for Adoption Immigration
If your petition is denied, the denial letter will tell you how to appeal. For more information, see How to Appeal if USCIS Denied My Petition or Application (US Immigration, Green Card Denial).
- Have a specific question? To help you find an answer quickly, we have placed "Ask a Visa & Immigration Lawyer" boxes on this page. Simply type a question in any of the boxes to receive a response online from a visa and immigration lawyer.
- For a list of adoption service providers accredited to provide adoption services for Hague adoption cases, the State Department maintains the latest list at: Hague Accredited Adoption Service Providers
- For more information on obtaining a Hague adoption home study, see International Adoption: Hague Home Study
- For details on adoption by country, see International Adoption by Country, and contact the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the country of adoption.
- For immigration questions in the U.S., you may contact your nearest USCIS District Office or Sub Office. This link provides telephone numbers, addresses, directions, office hours, local filing procedures, and more.
- Or, call the national USCIS toll-free information service at 1-800-375-5283
- You may also want to seek the advice of an immigration attorney (this link will help you find the right lawyer for your case), or an immigrant assistance organization. A list of accredited organizations and individuals is maintained by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which also maintains a list of free legal service providers.