This page explains the process for adopting children from foreign countries. Additionally, it provides information on immigration benefits obtainable through adoptive relationships. These resources are intended for adoptive and prospective adoptive parents of foreign-born children, as well as adoption agencies, and state and local officials involved in adoption proceedings.

Orphan petitions are the most common way of bringing foreign adopted and prospective adoptive children to the United States. The material addressed on this link is comprehensive and meant for readers who want to avoid problems and/or delays with the adoption process. Information is included on some of the difficult issues that can occur in orphan cases.

The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adoptive Children materials feature a section on immigration benefits that may be gained from adoptive relationships through procedures other than the orphan petition. There is also some general information on how a foreign-born adopted child can become a U.S. citizen.

Above all, this material alerts prospective adoptive parents about some serious problems that may happen in foreign adoption cases. For example, unscrupulous adoption practices are common in many areas of the world. Moreover, adoption of a foreign-born child does not guarantee the child’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States. The adoptive parent must comply with the U.S. immigration law and legal regulatory procedures. There is no way an orphan can legally immigrate to the United States without Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services (INS) processing.

INS regulations require that all foreign adoptions undergo an investigation to guarantee compliance with the laws of both the United States and foreign sending country. When necessary, an overseas investigation is initiated. This investigation can cause delays in adjudicating the case. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to retain a reputable agency with foreign adoption experience or competent legal representation in their efforts to bring foreign-born children to the United States.

INS places a priority on processing adoption petitions. Many BCIS field offices have assigned individual officers and clerks to process orphan petitions applications and respond to inquiries from the petitioners concerning the status of their case. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to go through their adoption agencies for guidance and insight on the immigration of orphan and adopted children.

The U.S. Department of State’s Office of Children’s Issues coordinates policy and provides information to the public on international adoptions, including country-specific data. Prospective adoptive parents can contact the Office of Children’s Issues at (202) 736-7000.

Adoption information is also available from the U.S. State Department internet website at


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Adoption in general