IR3 Visa: Children Adopted Abroad by a U.S Citizen

There are several categories of immigrant visas in the United States. One of them is the “Immediate Relative Visa.” This group of visas favors immediate relatives and family members of U.S. citizens who live outside the United States. They are designated by the letters IR and are as follows.

  • IR1 visas for spouses of U.S. citizens
  • IR2 visas for unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens
  • IR3 visa for children of U.S. citizens adopted abroad
  • IR4 visa for children adopted in the U.S. by U.S. citizens
  • IR5 visa for parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21.

As you can see, immediate relatives are only spouses, biological or adopted children, and parents. Grandparents, uncles and aunts are not considered immediate relatives and therefore cannot qualify for these visas.

What is the IR-3 visa?

Many U.S. citizens want to adopt a child from another country and bring him or her to the United States to live with as a family. To do this, the adopted child must have a valid U.S. visa and be allowed to enter the United States. If a U.S. citizen completes the adoption process outside the U.S. in the adopted child’s home country, the child may be eligible for an IR-3 visa.

An IR-3 visa allows the child to live with the adoptive parents in the U.S., attend school, pursue higher education, work without an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and eventually qualify and become a U.S. citizen.

The IR-3 visa, like all immediate family group visas, is uncapped, so children who qualify for an IR-3 visa are processed at the time of application and do not have to wait for their priority dates to be updated.

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

There are two types of adoptions that are recognized by the U.S. government, and they depend on the country from which the child was adopted. They are as follows

  • Adoption by a Hague Convention country.
  • Adoption by a non-Hague Convention country.

The Hague Convention on Intercountry Adoption was signed in 1993 and sets the rules for international adoptions. The application process differs depending on whether a U.S. citizen is adopting from a Hague Convention country or a non-Hague Convention country.

The following countries are members of the Hague Convention, but for other political reasons, a U.S. citizen cannot easily adopt a child from one of these countries:

Hague Convention Countries

Albania Cote d’Ivoire Haiti Mexico Seychelles
Andorra Costa Rica Hungary Moldova Slovakia
Armenia Croatia Iceland Monaco Slovenia
Australia Cuba India Mongolia South Africa
Austria Cyprus Ireland Montenegro Spain
Azerbaijan Czech Republic Israel Namibia Sri Lanka
Belarus Denmark Italy Netherlands Swaziland
Belgium Dominican Republic Kazakhstan New Zealand Sweden
Belize Ecuador Kenya Norway Switzerland
Bolivia El Salvador Kyrgyzstan Panama Thailand
Brazil Estonia Latvia Paraguay Togo
Bulgaria Fiji Lesotho Peru Turkey
Burkina Faso Finland Liechtenstein Philippines United Kingdom
Burundi France Lithuania Poland Uruguay
Cambodia Georgia Luxembourg Portugal Venezuela
Canada Germany North Macedonia Romania Vietnam
Cape Verde Ghana Madagascar Rwanda Zambia
Chile Greece Mali San Marino
China Guatemala Malta Senegal
Colombia Guinea Mauritius Serbia

Adoptions from countries other than those listed above result in an adoption by a U.S. citizen outside the rules of the Hague Convention and are subject to different regulations and application procedures.

What are the requirements of the IR-3 visa?

There are requirements for the IR-3 visa for both the child to be adopted and the U.S. citizen. These requirements, which determine the child’s eligibility for an IR-3 visa, are as follows.

  • Must be admitted under the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • Must be under the age of 21
  • Be from a Hague Convention country or a country not subject to the Hague Convention.
  • The U.S. citizen parent must be willing to adopt the child and pass a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) eligibility test.
  • The U.S. citizen must plan to bring the child to the U.S. to live with him or her.
  • The U.S. citizen must have a valid address in the United States.

If the U.S. citizen has already adopted the child and has lived abroad with the child for more than two years, he or she may be eligible for an IR-2 visa and does not have to go through the IR-3 visa application process.

How to apply for the IR-3 visa?

The application process for the IR-3 visa differs depending on the country where the adoption will take place. Therefore, below are the application procedures for countries that are subject to the Hague Convention and for countries that are not subject to the Hague Convention.

Hague Country Convention Application Procedures

  1. Select the adoption agency of your choice, which must be licensed in the United States. This will ensure that you are in compliance and that your adoption agency is also within the applicable laws and regulations.
  2. Obtain approval for adoption eligibility; you will need to file a Form I-800A with USCIS. You must complete a background check, fingerprint check, and home study in order to file this form. If approved, USCIS will determine the age range and number of children you are eligible to adopt and whether you are eligible to adopt a child with special needs.
  3. We will file an adoption application and match you with a child in the Hague Convention country of your choice. The authorities in the adoption country will review your documents and USCIS approval to find a qualified child for you to adopt. Be sure to check with Hague Convention member countries, as the required documents may vary from country to country. If the authorities in that country find a child who meets the eligibility criteria, they will send you a referral document. This document contains information about the child’s background, family structure, medical history, and any other special needs. The file also includes signed consent forms from all necessary parties (e.g., adoption agency, birth parent consent).
  4. Submit Form I-800 (Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative) to USCIS to confirm that the child is eligible for immigration status. You must show that you have completed all of these steps and have not yet obtained adoption or guardianship of the child. The reason for this is to prevent a U.S. citizen from adopting a child who is not eligible for immigration under U.S. law. If USCIS approves your petition, you can proceed to the next step.
  5. If USCIS approves your petition, you can proceed to the next step, which is to submit a DS-260 (online immigrant visa application) to the U.S. embassy or consulate in the country where the child will be adopted. Submit this application online and receive confirmation of the submission.
  6. Once all procedures have been approved and everything is in order, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the country of adoption will issue an Article 5/17 letter certifying that the child is eligible for immigration to the United States. Only after receiving this letter can an adoption or guardianship order be obtained.
  7. Submit the child’s birth certificate, passport, and other documentation and complete the IR-3 visa application. In addition, make an appointment with the U.S. Embassy for an interview. Be sure to present the final adoption or guardianship order at the interview.

Non-Hague Convention Application Procedures

  1. Select the adoption agency of your choice in the country where you wish to adopt a child.
  2. Submit Form I-600A to USCIS to determine your eligibility to be an adoptive parent; USCIS will conduct a background check, fingerprint check, and home study to determine if you are eligible to adopt. However, compared to the adoption process in Hague Convention countries, they do not check to see if the child is an orphan.
  3. Obtain an adoption or guardianship order from the authorities in the country where the child is to be adopted.
  4. Submit Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, to USCIS for approval as to whether the child is eligible for immigration under U.S. law. Supporting documentation should be attached to the petition, such as:
    1. The child’s birth certificate or, if no birth certificate is available, a statement of the child’s identity and age
    2. Proof that the child has no parents or that the birth parents are unable to provide adequate care and agree to place the child for adoption
    3. Proof that the adoption is finalized or that you intend to adopt the child
    4. Next, USCIS or a consular officer in the country where you will adopt the child will complete Form I-604. Once the form is approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will inform you of the next steps.
    5. Submit an IR-3 visa application using the DS-260 online immigrant visa application and schedule a visa interview. At the interview, you will need to provide a complete set of documents for your child’s adoption.

What are the IR-3 visa fees?

Depending on which application method you use, you may be required to pay a fee to submit your application and other support costs. The amount is determined by USCIS, but generally the fees are as follows.

  • Form I-800A Submission Fee
  • Form I-800 Submission Fee
  • Form DS-260 Processing Fee
  • Form I-600A Filing Fee
  • Form I-600 Filing Fee
  • Fee for translation
  • Fee for obtaining supporting documents

How long is the IR-3 visa processing time?

The time it takes to process an IR-3 visa depends on the circumstances. Depending on what regulations are followed and how long it takes to get approval to adopt from abroad, it can take anywhere from six months to over a year to bring your adopted child to the United States.

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

Yes, you can use an IR-3 visa to receive medical care in the United States. However, the cost of medical care in the United States is among the highest in the world.

From $2,500 for treatment of a broken leg or arm to an average stay in an American hospital costing more than $10,000, the health insurance plan best suited for Ir3 visa holders should be chosen to cover your needs at an overall affordable price.

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