The IR3 Visa allows the children who have been adopted abroad by U.S. citizens to settle with their parents in the United States. This visa is not subject to a yearly cap as it is a Family-Based Green Card.
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- What is the IR3 Visa?
- What are the Requirements for an IR-3 Visa?
- What is the Hague Adoption Convention?
- Hague Country Convention Application Process
- Petition Stage for adoption in a Hague Convention Country
- Non-Hague Convention Application Process
- What are the fees for an IR-3 Visa?
- What is the processing time for an IR-3 Visa?
What is the IR3 Visa?
The IR3 Visa is a children’s green card for children who were adopted abroad by U.S. citizens. This visa is a family-based green card that falls into the immediate preference category. Therefore, the green cards are not subject to a yearly visa cap and can be processed upon application approval. They do not have to wait for a priority date to become current.
After the adoption procedure has been completed abroad, the U.S. parents or guardians can then begin the application for the IR3 visa. This visa will allow the children to travel to the U.S. under a green card where they will live with their new families indefinitely. Furthermore, this green card will allow the children to live, study and eventually work in the United States without immigration restrictions. In some cases, U.S. citizenship will automatically be granted to the child.
What are the Requirements for an IR-3 Visa?
The U.S. government recognizes 2 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. These requirements 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 U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act.
- The U.S. citizen parent(s) must plan to bring the child to the U.S. to reside with them.
- The U.S. citizen(s) must have a valid U.S. address
- The parent must consent to an eligibility test by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (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 have lived with them abroad for at least 2 years prior to moving to the U.S., you may be eligible for an IR2 visa (Children’s Green Card).
What is the Hague Adoption Convention?
The U.S. 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 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 U.S. 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, the U.S. citizen must then complete Form I-800A (Determination on Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country) and send it to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for approval. In addition to filing this form, the U.S. citizen will also be asked to complete a background and fingerprint 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 which can be adopted, their age range, and if the U.S. citizen is eligible to adopt a child with special needs. If approved, the U.S. citizen will be eligible to adopt a child abroad from a Hague Convention Country.
After the U.S. citizen has been approved to adopt from abroad, the prospective parent(s) will then start the adoption process from the Hague Convention Country. 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 the U.S. citizen find an eligible child to adopt. Normally, the prospective parent(s) will be sent referral documents about prospective children who are available for adoption by the adoption authorities of that particular country. 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 should also include documents that provide the signed consent for adoption by the necessary parties such as the adoption center, biological parent(s), etc.
As always, the adoption process and their necessary requirements are 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.
Petition Stage for adoption in a Hague Convention Country
When the prospective parent has been matched with an eligible child for adoption, the U.S. citizen parent will then need to complete Form I-800 (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee and an Immediate Relative).
After this petition is approved, the U.S. citizen parent will then be asked to complete Form DS-260 (Online Immigrant Visa Application) and submit it to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country from which the adoption is taking place. This form is completed and submitted online, so it is important that the confirmation page is printed out and saved as it will need to 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 United States. When the letter has been received, the prospective parent will then be able to obtain an adoption or guardianship order.
After an adoption or guardianship order is granted, the U.S. citizen will then continue with their child’s IR3 visa application. To do complete their IR-3 application, the U.S. parent will need to submit documents such as the child’s birth certificate, passport, and any other relevant supporting documents.
After these documents have been submitted, the U.S. citizen parent will then need to attend an immigration interview at the nearest local U.S. Embassy or Consulate. At this interview, the American parent 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 are different in Non-Hague Convention countries.
The first step in the foreign adoption process is for the U.S. citizen prospective parent(s) to choose their preferred adoption centre in the foreign country where they are seeking adoption. After an adoption centre has been chosen, the U.S. citizen 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, the prospective parent will be asked to complete a background and fingerprint check as well as a home study to determine if he or she is a suitable candidate to adopt a child.
If the application is approved, the U.S. citizen will then begin the process of matching with an eligible child. After the prospective parent has been matched with a child, they will then 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, the U.S. citizen parent will then 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 U.S. law. In order to complete this form, the prospective parent will need to attach supporting documents such as:
- Child’s birth certificate or 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 then file and complete Form I-604 (Determination on Child for Adoption). If Form I-604 is approved, the IR-3 visa application will then be transferred over to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will then send an informational packet to the U.S. parent regarding the next steps in the green card application process.
Usually, these next steps will include asking the U.S. citizen parent to complete Form DS-260 (Online Immigrant Visa Application) and later attend an immigration interview which will take place at your nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. At the interview, it is important to make sure that the U.S. citizen parent(s) bring the necessary required documents for both the IR3 visa application along with all the necessary information and documents regarding the child’s adoption.
What are the fees for an IR3 Visa?
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. Overall, 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
- Translation fees: costs will vary
- Fees to obtain supporting documents: costs will vary
- Medical exam and required vaccinations: costs will vary
It is important to note that children who enter the United States under the Orphan (Non-Hague) or Hague adoption programs do not need to pay the USCIS immigrant fee.
What is the processing time for an IR-3 Visa?
The processing time for an IR3 visa will depend on the adoption process and procedures of the foreign country where the child was adopted. Overall, the process usually takes anywhere from 6 months to a year. For more information about the processing time for foreign adoptions, consult with an experienced immigration lawyer who can best advise you on the adoption process, procedures, and processing time.
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Frequently Asked Questions
For an updated list of countries that abide by the Hague Convention for foreign adoptions, check on the travel.state.gov website. It should be noted that some countries on the Hague Convention list will not adopt to the United States for political reasons. Therefore, it is important to consult with an experienced foreign adoption lawyer for more information about eligible countries where you can adopt.
Children with IR3 visas will automatically be granted U.S. citizenship if they enter the United States as lawful permanent residents prior to their 18th birthday and live in the U.S. under the legal and physical custody of their U.S. citizen parent.
If you adopted your child over 2 years ago and have been living abroad with them ever since then your child will now be eligible for an IR2 (Children’s Green Card). The process for this visa is much easier and provides the child with automatic U.S. citizenship when they enter the country.
Children will be expected to provide a photograph but no other biometric data, this includes fingerprints. However, the U.S. parent will need to provide all biometric data for an IR3 visa.