There are different types of U.S. immigrant visas and one of which is the Immediate Relative Visa category. Its categories are:



In non-technical language, immediate relatives would only be spouses, biological or adopted children, and parents. Grandparents, uncles, or aunts are already considered to be one’s extended family and therefore, do not qualify as immediate relatives.


This article will cover the IR-4 US Visa, what it is, requirements and application processes, and other essential details.


What Is an IR-4 US Visa?


A U.S. citizen can be able to adopt a child from any outside country and a way to do that, the child must have a valid immigrant US Visa to reside in the U.S. with his/her adoptive parents. U.S. immigrant visas have several types, which would enable the U.S citizen to adopt, and the principal ones are the IR-4 and the IR-3 US Visa.


The IR-4 US Visa enables parents to secure custody of the child in a different country and take the child into the U.S to finish the adoption process while the IR-3 US Visa allows the parents from the U.S to complete the adoption process in a different country before the child can get his/her US Visa.


The advantages of having an IR-4 US Visa:


  • It permits the parents to take the child to the U.S with complete adoption
  • The child can then settle in the U.S legally
  • The child can enroll in school and when able, can start working without the need for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). When eligible, the child can also petition for a U.S. citizenship.


Overall, IR-4 US Visas are more convenient since those who have appealed can complete the process much quicker and do not have a yearly limit or size on the number of US Visas published.


How Does One Qualify for the IR-4 US VISA?


In the U.S., intercountry adoptions or adoptions from other countries are divided into two types that rely upon the timescale where the child was adopted. The two (2) categories of adoptions are:


  • Non-Hague country adoptions
  • Hague country convention adoptions


The Hague Adoption Convention was developed in 1993 and put into motion in 1995, with specified rules and regulations about intercountry adoption to safeguard children in the international adoption process.


Application procedures would change depending on whether the U.S citizen adopts the child from a Hague Convention Country or a Non-Hague Convention Country.


The treaty was signed by 88 countries all over the world, including the United States in 2008. Though it may apply to some countries, please take note that there are still countries that prohibit intercountry adoptions due to political reasons as specified by countries in bold.


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



Adoptions from any other countries besides those listed from the Hague Convention means that the U.S citizen is adopting outside the laws and other ordinances and application procedures will apply that is solely for the Non-Hague country adoptions only.


What Are the Necessities of Acquiring the IR-4 US Visa?


To be qualified for the IR-4 US visa, one must meet the specific requirements for both the child from the outside country being adopted and the adoptive parents who are U.S citizens. These requirements are as follows:


  • A child must meet the adoption guidelines from the U.S Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • The child needs to be under 21 years of age and unmarried
  • The child must be of both a Hague or Non-Hague Convention Country
  • The U.S citizens must be responsible for obtaining custody or guardianship of the child in the foreign country and then adopt in the U.S
  • The U.S citizens intend to bring the adopted child to the U.S to reside with them
  • The U.S citizens must pass an eligibility test by the U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
  • The U.S citizens must have a valid U.S address or residence


If U.S. citizens plan to adopt a child while in a foreign country, then one needs to apply for an IR-3 visa. Lastly, if U.S. citizens have fostered the child and resided in a foreign country with the child for at least two years, then they are qualified to apply for an IR-2 visa.


Hague County Convention vs. Non-Hague Convention Application Procedures.


Since intercountry adoptions in the U.S. have two categories or are divided into two for the IR-4 US Visa, one must bear in mind that there are also two different procedures to follow to ensure proper guidelines.


Hague Country Convention Application Procedures




A US citizen will need to choose between the US Accredited or from an Approved Adoption Service Provider to adopt from Hagues Convention Countries.


  1. First, a citizen needs to file the Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country Form or known shortly as “Form I-800A.” The USCIS will check the submitted form by performing a background and fingerprint check and home study. The results will then determine the number of children that the citizen is allowed to adopt including on the specific range of ages recommended for adoption. In addition to the age range and the particular number of children for adoption, the form would also determine if a citizen is allowed to adopt a child with special needs. Once the form is approved, this will make the citizen eligible for adoption.
  2. Next, the citizen needs to appeal to be paired with a child in the preferred Hague Convention Country. The officials of the foreign country will then review the submitted documents, and the citizen is required to check in for a list of requirements that needed for submission. It will also need the USCIS approval and the suggested children that meet the eligibility standards. Every child will have a file containing their background knowledge, medical and special needs, and consent forms from the necessary parties.
  3. Thirdly, a citizen must file the Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative or otherwise known as the Form I-800 to determine if the child’s eligibility as a Convention adoptee. The U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parent files the petition to finalize the immigration process of a child who habitually resides in a Convention country. Also, the US citizen needs to prove that they have yet to gain guardianship of the child preventing any U.S citizen from obtaining custody or adopting children who are not eligible to immigrate.
  4. After the approval of the forms, the US Visa application for the child you intend to adopt can comply through U.S. Submit Form DS-260 or the Online Immigrant Visa Application to the U.S Embassy or Consulate of the foreign country from where the child will be adopted. The DS-260 will need the background information of the child and other pertinent details. The form is submitted online, and after which, the citizen will get a confirmation letter and number.
  5. If everything has been done in the required order, the Embassy or Consulate will issue a letter, called the “Article 5/17 letter”, notifying the central authority of the child’s country of origin that the child appears to be “eligible to permanently reside” in the United States following the completion of the adoption or guardianship in the child’s country of origin. At this point, you then allowed in getting a guardianship order for the child. Adoption of a child must begin by bringing the child to the U.S instead of adopting the child in a foreign country as stipulated in the IR-4 US Visa guidelines. The IR-3 US Visa is for adopting the child in their country of residence
  6. Supporting documents like the child’s birth certificate, passport, medical documents, etc. are required for submission to the U.S Embassy or Consulate in obtaining the guardianship order. Lastly, an interview needed to be scheduled and attended at the U.S. Embassy in which the citizen will need to present the final guardianship order to the officials to have the application completed in which point, the U.S Embassy will determine whether to give the IR-4 visa to the child or not.


Non-Hague Convention Application Procedures


For the Non-Hague Convention countries, there are other application procedures as follows:


  1. An adoption center needs to be chosen in the country where a US citizen wants to adopt the child. US citizens need to make their own decisions on which ones to pick since they won’t be getting any recommendations on the US approved centers.
  2. A citizen needs to file the Application for Advanced Processing of an Orphan Petition or known as File Form I-600A to the USCIS. This form as well as the results of the background and fingerprint check, and the home study will determine your eligibility to adopt a child from a foreign country. Since this is for Non-Hague Convention Application, USCIS will not make any recommendations on the child’s classification.
  3. Requirements must be met of the particular country when obtaining a guardianship order where you plan to adopt the child, especially when it involves acquiring the supporting documents and the procedures that follow.
  4. US Citizens need to file the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative to USCIS or known as form I-600 in order to classify an orphan, habitually resident in a non-Hague Convention country, who is or will be adopted by a U.S. citizen, as an immediate relative to allow the child to enter the United States. The following supporting documents must be submitted:
    1. Child’s birth certificate or written explanation about the identity and age of the child
    2. Evidence that the child does not have parents or that the biological parents consented to adoption because they are unable to provide proper care
    3. Proof that you have obtained guardianship of the child and you intend to complete adoption procedures once the child arrives in the U.S
    4. USCIS or a Consular Officer in the country you are adopting the child from will complete and approve 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-4 visa application by filing Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application as well as schedule your visa interview. At the meeting, provide your complete file of documents for the child’s adoption.


What are the IR-4 US Visa Fees?


One must pay the charges depending on the application a person has followed in addition to the supporting costs associated with each specific procedure. The USCIS determines the amounts, which are:


  • 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
  • Costs to obtain supporting documents


How Long Is the IR-4 Visa Processing Time?


There is no definite timeframe for processing the application for the IR-4 US Visa since the USCIS does not give any. The timescale would also depend on the period it would take for a citizen to achieve guardianship of the child in a foreign country where one proposes to adopt. Even though there is no specific timeframe, an estimate of 6 months to a year is given, in which the citizen would be allowed to bring the child to the US when the application is approved. Other procedures must then be followed in order to complete the adoption application.