Immigration benefits for adopted children

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Updated: 4/13/2007 3:36 pm
Children who are adopted by United States citizens or permanent residents may obtain immigration benefits in the United States similar to biological children born abroad, so long as the adoptions satisfy certain criteria. First and foremost, the adoption must occur prior to the child’s 16th birthday. The adopting parents, or parent, must petition on behalf of the adopted child for an immigration visa before the child is 16 years old. In addition, the adopting parents must prove that the child has been in legal custody and has physically resided with them for two years. Legal custody begins when custody is officially awarded to the parent by a court of law or other appropriate entity. If and when all adoption criteria are met, the parents must then file an I-130 (eye 1-30) form, or a “petition to classify status of alien relative for issuance of immigrant visa,” at a local immigration office. In addition to completing the form, the adoptive parents must submit a copy of the adoption decree, proof of U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident status, the adopted child’s birth certificate, evidence that the child has been in legal custody and has physically resided with the adoptive parent or parents for a two year period, and the proper filing fee. Any documents submitted in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. The filing fee isn’t refundable, regardless of whether the petition is approved or denied. An adopted child who is successful in obtaining immigration benefits through adoption can’t confer immigration benefits on his or her biological parents or siblings.

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