Adopting a child is a wonderful experience. Many families decide to adopt from outside the United States. This adds another layer to the process because you will have to account for immigration requirements. Just because you adopt the child does not give him or her automatic status as a U.S. citizen, nor does it allow the child immediate access to the U.S.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains that you have three options for bringing your child into the country. You will follow the method that works for your child’s circumstances, but you may not have an option as to which you will use.
This method involves filing a Form I-130. This is asking for entry into the country as a child of a U.S. citizen. You must complete your adoption before you file, and the child must not be over the age of 16. The major downside to this method is that you must have legal and physical custody of the child for at least two years before you can file the petition. It does not have to be two years concurrently; you can do it over time.
If the country from which you adopt your child is part of the Hauge Convention, then you can gain your son or daughter entry into the country on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa. You will know that you qualify for this method when you file forms I-800A and I-800 as part of your adoption paperwork.
If the country is not part of the Hague Adoption Convention, then you may still be able to get an IR-3 or IR 4 immigrant visa. You will need to file form I-600A and potentially I-600, or at least I-600 to qualify under this method.
Remember that your child cannot come into the country until you get him or her the proper visa. Once you are here, you will have to take additional steps to secure U.S. citizenship for your adopted child.