How may US citizens bring their adopted children to the United States?
US Immigration law distinguishes between orphaned and non-orphaned adopted children. Non-orphaned adopted children are generally not eligible for a visa, except in circumstances where the US citizen parent has adopted the child abroad, and lived with the child as their primary caregiver for 2 years or more. In circumstances where these conditions are met the child qualifies for an immediate relative visa.
The adoption procedure for orphaned adopted children includes verification of the US citizen petitioner's suitability as a parent, establishment of the child as an orphan and applying for an IR visa at a US Consulate abroad, as will be described in greater detail below.
Who is considered an orphan according to US Immigration Law?
A foreign child is considered an orphan under US immigration law if the child does not have any parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from both parents. A foreign born child whose sole surviving parent is incapable of providing care for them and has released the child for adoption is also considered an orphan.
Who is eligible to petition for an immigrant visa for a foreign orphan?
A married US citizen or a single US citizen over 25 years of age may file an orphan petition. If the spouse of a petitioning US citizen is living in the United States they must be also be a US citizen or be legally residing in the US.
How do can I bring an adopted orphan to the US?
The procedure may be divided into three basic steps. First you will need to file a petition providing evidence of your suitability as a parent and your ability to provide an adopted child with a proper home environment with the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After you have identified the child you wish to adopt, you will need to file a second petition with the same USCIS office which provides evidence of the child's status as an orphan.
After adopting (or being accorded guardianship status) of the child, according to the laws of the country of which the child is a national, the child will need to apply for an IR visa at the US consulate with jurisdiction over the child's area of residence.
How long does it take for a visa to be issued for an adopted orphan?
The length of time it takes for a visa to be issue depends on a number of factors. USCIS centers in the United States generally take 3 -6 months to process the initial petition establishing the petitioner's suitability as a parent. This petition is generally used in the adoption or guardianship proceedings in the foreign country. Adoption or guardianship proceedings in Thailand can take up to a year or more. For other Southeast Asian countries processing times may vary.
Do you assistance with US Immigration adoption petitions?
Yes, we assist with the adoption of Thai nationals and with US immigration cases for orphans adopted by US citizens. The lawyers at our firm include Chaninat Leeds, an experienced Thai family lawyer and law school professor who has just published a book on international adoption in Thailand and Joe Leeds, an American Immigration lawyer with over 20 years of experience. We regularly handle both international adoption and US immigration cases.