The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international treaty that provides important safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents who are involved in intercountry adoptions.
The Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in the United States on April 1, 2008. All cases filed on or after April 1, 2008, seeking to adopt a child who habitually resides in any country outside of the United States that is a party to the Convention must follow the Hague process.
If You Filed Before April 1, 2008
Under U.S. law, prospective adoptive parents who filed the I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, or the I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, before April 1, 2008, may continue to process their adoptions under the current orphan regulations, provided that the laws of the country of the child's origin allows for continuation under the current orphan regulations.
About the Process
A country that is a party to the Convention must have an officially designated Central Authority to ensure that the adoption process is safeguarded. The U.S. Central Authority is the Department of State (DOS).
Adoption Service Providers (ASP)
An Adoption Service Provider (ASP) must be accredited or otherwise authorized to provide adoption services in connection with a Hague adoption in order for the provider to assist the prospective adoptive parent(s) with a Hague adoption. Be sure to ask any adoption service provider whether the adoption service provider is authorized to work on Hague adoption cases before hiring or paying any money to the provider. For more information go the Adoption Service Providers page.
An adoption service provider cannot provide legal advice or legal services to the prospective adoptive parent(s) or represent the prospective adoptive parent(s) before USCIS.
Steps of the Process
- Choose a Hague Accredited ASP (and perhaps also an immigration attorney).
- Obtain a home study from someone authorized to complete a Hague adoption home study.
- Apply to USCIS before adopting a child or accepting a placement for a determination that one is suitable for intercountry adoption.
- Once USCIS approves the application, work with the adoption service provider to obtain a proposed adoption placement.
- File a “petition” with USCIS, before adopting the child, to have the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United States based on the proposed adoption.
- Adopt the child, or obtain custody of the child in order to adopt the child in the United States.
- Obtain an immigrant visa for the child.
- Bring the child to the United States for admission with the visa.
- Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country
- Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative
Prospective adoptive parents must submit Form I-800A to USCIS in order to establish their eligibility and suitability.
If USCIS approves your Form I-800A, then you must submit Form I-800 to determine the child's eligibility as a Convention Adoptee, before adopting or obtaining legal custody of the child.
Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility
If you have reason to believe that the child you wish to adopt may be inadmissible to the United States (on medical grounds, for example), you may file Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Ground of Inadmissibility, with Form I-800.
Eligibility to Adopt
Once you have obtained a favorable home study, file Form I-800A with USCIS. To be eligible to file Form I-800A, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a U.S. citizen
- Habitually reside in the United States
- If you are married, your spouse must also sign your Form I-800A and must also intend to adopt any child whom you adopt
- If you are not married, you must be at least 24 years of age when you file your Form I-800A, and you must be 25 years of age when you file your Form I-800
Petitioning for Your Child
After we have approved your Form I-800A, you may apply to the Central Authority of the other country for a specific adoption placement. Once the Central Authority has proposed placing a child with you for adoption, but before you actually adopt the child, you must file Form I-800 on behalf of the child to be adopted. For a child to be classified as a Hague Convention Adoptee, the child must meet the following criteria:
- Be under the age of 16 at the time of filing Form I-800
- Habitually reside in a Convention Country
- Determined to be eligible for intercountry adoption by the Central Authority of that country and have obtained all necessary consents for adoption
- If you are married, your spouse must also sign the Form I-800 and adopt the child
- If you are not married, you must be at least 25 when you file the Form I-800
After we provisionally approve your Form I-800, you may apply for a visa for the child and may complete the adoption of the child (or obtain custody to bring the child to the United States for adoption), once the Department of State advises you to do so.
NOTE: The adoption MUST NOT take place prior to filing Form I-800A/I-800, doing so contradicts the Hague Convention agreement.
Instructions for a Hague Convention Birth Siblings between Age 16 and 18
The International Adoption Simplification Act of 2010, Public Law 111-287, amended section 101(b)(1)(G) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to allow the birth sibling of an adopted child to qualify as a Hague Convention adoptee after the birth sibling’s 16th birthday, but prior to the birth sibling’s 18th birthday. After November 30, 2010, a Form I-800 may be filed, in accordance with form filing instructions, if;
- The child is from a country Party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation with Respect to Intercountry Adoption
- The child is the birth sibling of another alien child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parents
- The Form I-800 is filed before the expiration of the notice of approval or extension of the I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, and before the child’s 18th birthday
No additional filing fee for a Form I-800 is required when filing for children who are birth siblings.
You must have an approved, valid Form I-800A before filing a Form I-800.
- If you already have an approved, valid Form I-800A, please see Form I-800A instructions "Home Study Updates and Amendments" under the "Home Study Requirements" section to see if an update or amendment of your home study is required before filing Form I-800.
- If the approval of the Form I-800A (including any extensions) has expired or you never filed a Form I-800A, you will need to file a Form I-800A, with fee, in accordance with the Form I-800A instructions.
Where to file?
Hague Convention Countries
Currently there are over 70 countries recognized by the United States as Hague Adoption Convention countries.
For a list of Convention countries, please visit the Department of State Adoptions page.