What is the IR3 Visa?
The IR3 Visa is a green card for children who were adopted abroad by US citizens. To be eligible for this visa, the child must have at least one US citizen parent. This family-based green card allows the children lawful permanent residency (or in some cases, immediate US citizenship) in the United States, where they can continue their education, live with their families, and work without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
If a child is under the age of 18 years old when they enter the US with an IR3 visa, they may have the opportunity to immediately gain US citizenship. Those who are over 18 years old (but under 21 years old) when they receive their IR3 Visa will get permanent resident status instead, also known as a green card. They can then apply for US citizenship once they become eligible.
The IR3 Visa is an immediate relative visa, which means that there is no annual cap or limits to the number of visas issued by the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS). Therefore, if the child or minor meets the conditions and requirements of the visa, they will be able to get an IR3 visa without too much delay.
What are the Requirements for an IR3 Visa?
The US government recognizes two kinds of foreign adoptions: Hague convention countries, and Non-Hague convention countries. In order to receive an IR3 Visa, certain requirements must be fulfilled for both types of adoption, which will include the following:
- The child must be less than 21 years of age
- The child must be from a Hague Convention country or a Non-Hague Convention country
- The child must be eligible for adoption based on the US Immigration and Nationality Act
- The US citizen parent(s) must plan to bring the child to the US to reside with them
- The US citizen(s) must have a valid US address
- The parent must consent to an eligibility test by the USCIS
The IR3 Visa is best suited for those families who have recently adopted children from a foreign country. If you have adopted a child abroad and lived with them outside of the US for at least two years, you may be eligible for an IR2 Visa, Children’s Green Card.
What is the Hague Adoption Convention?
The US government recognizes two types of foreign adoption: Hague country convention adoptions and Non-Hague country adoptions. The type of adoption the child will have depends entirely on the country from which the child was adopted.
The Hague Adoption Convention was created in 1993 in an attempt to safeguard intercountry adoptions.
The convention specifies the rules and regulations regarding foreign adoption. As a result, the adoption procedures will differ between Hague convention countries and Non-Hague convention countries.
Hague Country Convention Application Process
The first step in the foreign adoption process is researching and choosing a preferred Adoption Service Provider that is approved and accredited by US authorities. This is to ensure that both you and the adoption provider are within the applicable laws and regulations.
After an Adoption Service Provider is chosen, you must then complete Form I-800A, Determination on Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country and send it to the USCIS for approval. In addition to filing this form, you will also be asked to complete a background check, as well as a home study.
The USCIS will use the information gathered by the background checks and home study to determine the number of children that can be adopted, the appropriate age range, and if you are eligible to adopt a child with special needs. If approved, you will be eligible to adopt a child from a Hague Convention Country. The adoption process and the necessary requirements will be different in each country. Therefore, it is recommended that you familiarize yourself with the process, procedures, and necessary requirements of the particular country from which you are looking to adopt.
After you have been approved to adopt from abroad, you can now start the adoption process. To do this, authorities in the adoption country will review the documents that have been submitted along with USCIS’s approval to adopt. They will then use this information to help you find an eligible child to adopt. Normally, you will be sent referral documents about prospective children who are available for adoption. These documents will detail the background of the child, their family history, medical history, and any other special needs that are deemed important. The files on each child will also include documents that provide the signed consent for adoption by the necessary parties, such as the adoption center, and the biological parents.
Petition Stage for adoption in a Hague Convention country
If you are adopting a Canadian child, this is the route that you will take, as Canada is a Hague Convention country. When you have been matched with an eligible child for adoption, you will need to complete Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee and an Immediate Relative.
After this petition is approved, you will then be asked to complete Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application, and submit it to the US Embassy or Consulate in the country from which the adoption is taking place. This is an online form that will end in a confirmation page. It is important that the confirmation page is printed out and saved, as it will be included later in the visa’s portfolio of evidence.
After Form DS-260 has been submitted, the country from which the adoption is taking place will then issue the Article 5/17 Letter. This letter establishes that the child is eligible to immigrate to the US with their new parents. When the letter has been received, you will be able to obtain an adoption or guardianship order.
After an adoption or guardianship order is granted, you can continue with the child’s IR3 Visa application. To complete the IR3 Visa application, you will need to submit documents such as the child’s birth certificate, passport, and any other relevant supporting documents requested.
Once the relevant documents have been submitted, you will attend an immigration interview at the US Embassy or Consulate closest to you. At this interview, you will be asked to submit a variety of documents, including the final adoption or guardianship order.
Non-Hague Convention Application Process
The procedures of foreign adoption will be different in Non-Hague Convention countries.
The first step in the foreign adoption process for a Non-Hague Convention country is for you to choose your preferred adoption center in the foreign country where you are seeking adoption. After an adoption center has been chosen, you will need to complete Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, and submit it to the USCIS. In addition to filing this form, you will be asked to complete a background and fingerprint check, as well as a home study. This is to determine if you are a suitable candidate to adopt a child.
If the application is approved, you can begin the process of matching with an eligible child. Once you have been matched with a child, you will need to obtain an adoption or guardianship order from the country where the foreign adoption is taking place. Once the adoption or guardianship order is received, you will need to complete Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and submit it to USCIS. This form will determine whether or not the child is eligible for adoption under US law.
Alongside this form, you will need to attach supporting documents such as the following:
- The child’s birth certificate. If this is unavailable, a written explanation concerning the child’s date of birth and age
- Evidence that the child does not have parents, or that the biological parents are incapable of providing proper care, and have consented for their child to be adopted
- Evidence of your intention to adopt the child
After Form I-600 has been submitted with all of the supporting documents, USCIS or the consular office where the foreign adoption is taking place will file Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption. If Form I-604 is approved, the IR3 Visa application will be transferred over to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then send an informational packet to you with instructions on how to proceed.
As a general rule, these next steps will include asking you to complete Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application, and later attend an immigration interview which will take place at your nearest US Embassy or Consulate. At the interview, it is important to make sure that you bring the necessary documents for both the IR3 Visa application and the information requested regarding the child’s adoption.
How can Total Law help?
Understanding all the ins-and-outs of US immigration law can be a challenge, and can lead to delays or rejection of your visa application. Total Law immigration lawyers can ensure your visa petition and application are watertight, and contain everything you need to maximise your chances of success.
The team at Total Law understand that there is much at stake with an IR3 visa application, and your future and livelihood may depend on an approved application. We will work with you at every stage of the process.
Regardless of the type of visa you select for your circumstances, the best step is to get in touch with the team at Total Law, so you know that you are guaranteed the right path, and stand for a much higher success rate for your immigration application. You can contact us seven days a week, either on the phone, or by using the online chat function to speak with one of our client care agents.
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The cost of fees associated with the IR3 Visa will vary depending on the country where the adoption takes place, and if the adoption is from a Hague Convention Country or not. As a general rule, you will most likely encounter the following application fees:
- Form I-800A and Form I-800 filing fees (for Hague Convention countries): $775
- Form DS-260 processing fees: $445
- Form I-600A and Form I-600 filing fees (For Non-Hague Convention countries): $775
- Vaccination and medical examination fees – Variable costs
- USCIS immigrant fees, which must be paid upon receiving the visa and before traveling to the US – Variable costs
- Fees for obtaining and translating all supporting documents – Variable costs
- Moving and transport fees – Variable costs
The processing time for an IR3 Visa will usually take between 6-12 months, and will depend on the adoption processes and procedures of the foreign country where the child was adopted.