November 19, 2021

USCIS has published a comprehensive volume to its policy manual regarding adoptions.  The volume includes detailed requirements for parents of adopted children filing for green card applications within the United States.

Significantly, the policy manual discusses restrictions for adopted children from Hague Adoption Convention countries when the child is physically present in the United States.  See, USCIS Policy Manual Volume 5, Part E, Chapter 3.

Although an adoption order issued by a court in the United States may contain language indicating that the adoptee beneficiary was not habitually resident in the adoptee beneficiary’s country of origin or that the adoption is not governed by the Hague Adoption Convention, such language is not determinative. Only USCIS can determine whether the Hague Adoption Convention applies when adjudicating the family-based petition.

In general, USCIS will deem a child who is present in the United States, but whose habitual residence was in another Hague Adoption Convention country before the child came to the United States, to be habitually resident in the other Hague Adoption Convention country. Therefore, an adoptive parent in this situation must generally follow the burdensome Hague Adoption Convention process.  To avoid this result, working together with a qualified immigration attorney during the state adoption case is critical.