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International Adoptions by US citizens, long term visa holders, and permanent residents.

Only US citizens may petition for the immediate immigration of foreign adopted children. There is no provision in US immigration law for the entry of newly adopted children of legal permanent residents-green card holders and long term nonimmigrant visa holders.

Legal permanent residents who do adopt abroad can only expect frustration in trying to bring their adopted children to the US. The United States Department of State reports cases each year of non-citizen parents who have legally adopted a child internationally and then find that the child cannot join them in the United States. The parents and child face only anguish and heartbreak. The best solution is for legal permanent residents to first naturalize as US citizens and for long term nonimmigrant visa holders to return to their home countries before adopting.

Definition of child in the Immigration and Nationality Act.

The problem lies in the definition of child in the Immigration and Nationality Act. Long term nonimmigrant visa holders and legal permanent residents can bring their spouses and children with them when they enter the United States or have them enter later. The Immigration and Nationality Act divides the definition of child into several sub-groups: natural born children, step-children, and adopted children. The INA recognizes as a child one who has been adopted before the age of sixteen and who has resided with, and been in the legal custody of, the parent for two years. What this means is that a child born overseas to the principal applicant after his or her entry to the US may receive the appropriate dependent visa immediately. A child adopted overseas by a non-citizen must first meet the two year co-residence requirement. The INA does not provide any way for the child to enter the US to satisfy this requirement.
The US consulate cannot issue a J-2 visa - dependent of exchange visitor, to join the parent. However, if the parent leaves the US and lives with the adopted child for two years, they can receive a J-2 visa for future exchange visits to the US.

Adoption by long term non-immigrant visa holders.

Long term nonimmigrant visa classes include: E1/E2 Treaty Traders or Investors, F-1 Students, I Journalists, J-1 Exchange Visitors, H, O, or P Visa Temporary Workers, L-1 Intra-company Transfers, and R-1 Religious Workers. Different rules cover diplomats and officials in the US on A or G visas. The employing embassy or international organization should contact the Department of State for information.

Adoption by legal permanent residents.

The situation is even more difficult for legal permanent residents. The adopting resident parent must first satisfy the two year co-residence requirement, before he or she can begin the immigration process. At the same time, a resident cannot reside outside the US making the two year requirement a near impossibility. At the end of two years' co-residence, if the parent could have complied, he or she would file a second family category (child of a legal permanent resident) petition. The family must then wait for the petition to become current. Therefore, a resident faces a wait of six years or more before his or her adopted child may immigrate.
Once a legal permanent resident naturalizes as a United States citizen, he or she may petition for the immediate immigration of an adopted or to be adopted child. There are strict limits on who may qualify as an orphan but there is no two year co-residence requirement . Other adopted children would still have to meet the two year requirement. A single US citizen over twenty-five years of age or a married US citizen of any age may petition. The spouse of a married citizen need not be a US citizen but he or she must agree to the orphan adoption.


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