IR-3 Visa: Children Adopted Abroad by a U.S Citizen

IR-3 Visa 2019-08-16T15:27:29+00:00

The U.S immigrant visas have various categories within them. One of them is the Immediate Relative Visas. This group of visas favors the immediate relatives or family of U.S citizens who live outside of the U.S. They are denoted by the letters IR, and are the following:

As can be seen, immediate relatives are only spouses, biological or adopted children, and parents. Grandparents, uncles, or aunts do not qualify as immediate relatives and therefore cannot get these visas.

What is the IR-3 visa?

Many U.S citizens want to adopt children from foreign countries and then bring them to the U.S to live together as a family. To be able to do so, the adopted child must have a valid U.S visa and be allowed to enter the U.S. When U.S citizens complete adoption procedures outside of the U.S, in the child’s home country, then the child is eligible to get the IR-3 visa.

The IR-3 visa allows the child to come and live in the U.S with the adopted parents, attend school, continue into higher education studies, work without an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and ultimately obtain U.S citizenship when eligible.

The IR-3 visa as all the visas in the Immediate Family group, does not have a cap, so any child eligible to get the IR-3 visa will be processed upon application and does not need to wait for their priority date to become current.

What are the types of adoption that qualify for the IR-3 visa?

There are two types of adoption recognized by the U.S government and they depend upon the country from where the child was adopted. These are:

  • Hague country convention adoptions
  • Non-Hague country adoptions

The Hague Adoption Convention was signed in 1993 and specified rules and regulations about intercountry adoption. Depending on whether the U.S citizen adopts the child from a Hague Convention Country or from a Non-Hague Convention Country, the application procedures change.

The following countries are part of The Hague Convention Countries; however, U.S citizens are not allowed to adopt children from the countries in bold due to other political reasons.

Hague Convention Countries

AlbaniaCote d’IvoireHaitiMexicoSeychelles
AndorraCosta RicaHungaryMoldovaSlovakia
AustraliaCubaIndiaMongoliaSouth Africa
AzerbaijanCzech RepublicIsraelNamibiaSri Lanka
BelgiumDominican RepublicKazakhstanNew ZealandSweden
BoliviaEl SalvadorKyrgyzstanPanamaThailand
Burkina FasoFinlandLiechtensteinPhilippinesUnited Kingdom
CanadaGermanyNorth MacedoniaRomaniaVietnam
Cape VerdeGhanaMadagascarRwandaZambia
ChileGreeceMaliSan Marino


Adopting from any other countries than those above means that the U.S citizen is adopting outside the Hague Convention rules and other regulations and application procedures will apply.

What are the requirements of the IR-3 visa?

The IR-3 visa has requirements for both the child being adopted as well as the U.S citizens. These requirements determine the eligibility of the child for the IR-3 visa and are as follows:

  • The child must be eligible based on the U.S Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • The child must be under 21 years old
  • The child must be from either a Hague or Non-Hague Convention Country
  • The U.S citizen parent must be willing to adopt the child and pass an eligibility test by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • The U.S citizen must plan to bring the child to the U.S to reside with them
  • The U.S citizen must have a valid U.S address

If the U.S citizen has already adopted the child and has resided with them in a foreign country for at least 2 years, then the child is eligible for an IR-2 visa and does not need to go through the IR-3 visa application process.

How to apply for the IR-3 visa?

Since there are different procedures for getting the IR-3 visa based on the country that the adoption is being completed, below will be the application procedures both for The Hague and Non-Hague Country Conventions.

Hague Country Convention Application Procedures

  1. Choose your preferred Adoption Service Provider which also must be U.S Accredited or Approved. This will ensure that you will follow the rules and your adoption provider is also within applicable laws and regulations.
  2. Get approval for Adoption Eligibility. You must file Form I-800A, Determination on Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country to USCIS. To file this form, you must complete a background check, fingerprint check, as well as a home study. If approved, USCIS will determine the age range and number of children you are allowed to adopt as well as if you are allowed to adopt a child with special needs.
  3. Apply to adopt and become matched with a child in your preferred Hague Convention Country. The authorities of the adoption country will review your documents and approval from USCIS and find an eligible child which you can adopt. Each Hague country might have different requirements, so make sure to check what you need to submit. When the authorities of that country have found children, which meet the eligibility criteria, they will send referral documents to you. The documents will contain the background of the child, family history, medical history, as well as any other special needs. The file will also have the signed consent by the necessary parties (adoption center, biological parents’ consent, etc).
  4. Ensure that the child is eligible for immigration by submitting a petition to USCIS by filing Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. All of these steps must be completed and you must show that you have not yet obtained adoption or guardianship of the child. The reason for that is to prevent U.S citizens adopting children who might be found ineligible to immigrate according to U.S laws. If USCIS approves your petition, then you may move on to the next step.
  5. Submit Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application to the U.S Embassy or Consulate of the country in which you are adopting the child. The DS-260 will require information about the child’s background and other details. You must submit the form online and obtain a confirmation letter of submission.
  6. If all the procedures are approved an in order, the U.S Embassy or Consulate in the country in which you are adopting will issue a letter called Article 5/17 Letter which establishes that the child is eligible to immigrate in the U.S. Only after receiving this letter can you obtain an adoption or guardianship order.
  7. Complete the IR-3 visa application process for your child by submitting the supporting documents such as the child’s birth certificate and passport. Additionally, schedule an appointment for an interview at the U.S Embassy and attend the interview. During this interview, make sure to submit your final adoption or guardianship order to the officials.

Non-Hague Convention Application Procedures

  1. Choose a preferred adoption center in the country you want to adopt the child.
  2. File Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition to USCIS to determine your suitability as an adoptive parent. USCIS will conduct a background check, fingerprint check, and a home study to determine whether you are eligible to adopt children. However, in comparison to The Hague Convention Country adoption process, it will not evaluate a child’s classification as an orphan.
  3. Obtain an adoption or guardianship order from the authorities of the country in which you are adopting the child.
  4. File Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative to USCIS so that you can get approval on whether the child is eligible for immigration under U.S law. Attach supporting documents to the petition too such as:
    • Child’s birth certificate or written explanation about the identity and age of the child if the birth certificate is not available
    • Evidence that the child does not have parents or that the biological parents are unable to provide proper care and have consented to giving up their child for adoption
    • Evidence that the adoption has been completed or that you intend to adopt the child
    • Next, USCIS or a Consular Officer in the country you are adopting the child from will complete Form I-604. If the form has been approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will notify you on the next steps you must take.
    • Submit the IR-3 visa application by filing Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application as well as schedule your visa interview. At the interview, provide your complete file of documents for the child’s adoption.

What are the IR-3 visa fees?

Depending on which application procedure you will follow, you must pay the fees associated with filing the forms as well as other supporting fees. The amounts are determined by USCIS, but in general, these are the fees that apply:

  • Form I-800A filing fee
  • Form I-800 filing fee
  • Form DS-260 processing fees
  • Form I-600A filing fee
  • Form I-600 filing fee
  • Translation fees
  • Fees to obtain supporting documents

How long is the IR-3 visa processing time?

The IR-3 visa processing time varies from situation to situation. Depending on the rules and regulations you are following and how long it takes to get adoption approval from the foreign countries, it can take from 6 months to more than 1 year for you to be able to bring your adopted child to the U.S.

Do I Get Access to American Healthcare With an IR-3 Visa?

Yes, you will have access to healthcare in the United States as an IR-3 visa holder, however, the costs of getting medical treatment in the US are one of the highest in the world.

The treatment of a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital may cost over $10,000, on average. You should pick a health insurance plan that fits you best, which overall is also affordable and covers your needs.

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