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

There are various categories included in U.S immigrant visas. One on the list is the Immediate Relative Visas. This visa groups are prioritizing and only intended for the immediate relatives of the U.S citizens living outside the U.S.

Being denoted with alphabet letters IR, below are the following visas for immediate U.S citizens’relatives:

As shown above, the immediate relative visas will be limited only to spouses, biological or adopted children, and parents of the U.S citizen. Other relative members such as grandparents, uncles, or aunts are not qualified as immediate relatives, thus, they are unable to get this type of visa.

This article will give an overview of the IR-3 visa- what is it, needed requirements, the process of application, and other relevant information.

What is the IR-3 visa?

There are still some U.S citizens that prefer to adopt children from foreign countries whom they’ll bring with them to the U.S for a permanent stay as a family. In this case, the adopted child must obtain a US visa to have a permitted entry in the country.
When the adoption procedures completed already by the U.S citizen outside of the U.S, which is the child’s home country, then the child is now eligible to have the IR-3 visa.

The visa now allows the child to go and board in the U.S with the adopted parents and is granted to attend educational institution, can continue to higher education studies if he/she wishes, and can work without the Employment Authorization Document (EAD), and of course, will be granted with U.S citizenship when eligible.

Similar to all other immediate relative visas, the IR-3 visa does not have any caps, hence, for any adopted child eligible in getting the visa will be processed as soon as possible and not necessarily need to wait for their corresponding priority date.

What Are the Types of Adoption That Qualify for the IR-3 visa?

Currently, two types of adoption are being recognized by the U.S government. They should be depending on where the child is being adopted: Below are the two:

  • Hague country convention adoptions
  • Non-Hague country adoptions

The Hague Adoption Convention was approved in 1993 as well as giving the specific rules and regulations on intercountry adoption. The application procedures still change and are depending on whether the U.S citizen adopts the child from a Hague Convention Country or from a Non-Hague Convention Country.

Below is the list of the countries involved in The Hague Convention Countries; however, countries printed in bold is an exception for the U.S citizens to adopt a child due to political considerations:

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 Macedonia Romania Vietnam
Cape Verde Ghana Madagascar Rwanda Zambia
Chile Greece Mali San Marino
China Guatemala Malta Senegal
Colombia Guinea Mauritius Serbia


In adopting from any other countries than the indicated ones above would mean that the U.S citizen is adopting outside the rules and other regulations of Hague Convention and application procedures will be followed.

What Are the Requirements of the IR-3 visa?

The IR-3 visa has requirements for both the U.S citizen and the adopted child. The following requirements will determine if the child is eligible for obtaining the IR-3 visa:

  • 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 in the case that the U.S citizen already adopted the child who has resided with them in another foreign country for at least two years, the child will be eligible for the IR-3 visa and will not need to move forward to that visa application process.

How to Apply for the IR-3 visa?

Since different procedures will apply in obtaining an IR-3 visa based on the country that the adoption is being processed and approved, below will be the application procedures for both 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 of 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 that 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 from 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 and 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, you can 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:
    1. Child’s birth certificate or written explanation about the identity and age of the child if the birth certificate is not available
    2. Evidence that the child does not have parents or that the biological parents are unable to provide proper care and have consented to give up their child for adoption
    3. Evidence that the adoption has been completed or that you intend to adopt the child
    4. 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 of the next steps you must take.
    5. 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?

An applicant for the IR-3 visa must pay the fees associated with filling the forms and other supporting fees as well. Typically, the amounts are being determined by USCIS, but generally, the fees are as follows:

  • 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 processing time for IR-3 visas would depend situationally. It can take from six months to more than a year for the adopted child to come to the U.S with the U.S citizen depending on the rules and regulations they follow and the longevity of the petition approved in the adopted child’s home country.

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