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International Adoption — Orphan Petition

International Adoption — Orphan Petition

What is an Orphan Petition?

Persons who wish to adopt a child from a foreign country must file an “Orphan Petition” with the United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The full name of the petition is “Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.” The USCIS must determine that the child is an “orphan” within the meaning of U.S. immigration laws and approve the petition before the child will be permitted to enter the U.S.

What is an orphan?

U.S. immigration laws define an “orphan” as:

(1) A child who has no parents because both parents have died, disappeared, or abandoned the child; or

(2) A child with one surviving parent who is unable to provide for the child’s basic needs and has consented to the child’s adoption and immigration to the U.S.

Is there an age restriction on orphans?

Yes. Generally, an Orphan Petition must be filed before the child’s 16th birthday. However, an Orphan Petition may be filed before the child’s 18th birthday if the child is adopted with or after the adoption of the child’s sibling by the same adoptive parents.

Who can file an Orphan Petition?

A married U.S. citizen and his spouse or an unmarried U.S. citizen who is at least 25 years old may file an Orphan Petition.

What documentation must be submitted along with the Orphan Petition?

The following must be submitted with the petition:

* Fingerprints for each prospective parent;

* Proof of the prospective parents’ U.S. citizenship or lawful immigration status in the U.S.;

* Proof of the marriage of the prospective parents, if they are married;

* Proof of the legal termination of any prior marriages;

* Proof of compliance with any state pre-adoption requirements;

* Proof of an approved home study;

* Proof of the child’s age and identity;

* Proof that the child is an orphan within the meaning of U.S. immigration laws;

* Proof that the prospective parents have legal custody of the child if they did not adopt the child in the child’s home country;

* A final adoption decree if the child was adopted in the child’s home country; and

* A filing fee.

For what reasons may the USCIS deny an Orphan Petition?

The USCIS may deny an Orphan Petition if it determines that:

* The child is not an orphan;

* A prospective parent is physically, mentally, or financially unfit to raise the child;

* A prospective parent has a history of abuse, violence, or criminal activity; or

* A prospective parent will not provide suitable living conditions for the child.

Copyright 2011 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.

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