The immediate relative process applies to cases in which the child who is being adopted is recognized as the child of the adoptive parents for immigration.

The adoption process for international children does not follow the exact same structural outline of events as those that are involved in a standard domestic adoption. Given the nature of the matter at hand, there is an understandable need for additional processes to be involved in the overall procedure of an international adoption. Accordingly, persons wishing to adopt a child overseas should not do so without the knowledgeable guidance of a skilled New York City immigration attorney from our firm. This is especially true when the child who is up for adoption is considered to the child of his or her adoptive parent(s) for immigration purposes.

How the Process Works

The immediate relative process directly applies to cases precisely like the one described above; cases in which the child who is being adopted is recognized as the child – or even the adult son / daughter – of his or her adopting parents for the specific purpose of immigration. Unlike the Hague and Orphan processes for international adoptions, the Immediate Relative Process does not require that a child be adopted by a current United States citizen, nor is the process limited to individuals who are going to be adopted by U.S. citizens in the very near future.

In order to proceed with the Immediate Relative Process for an international adoption, the adopting parent must be able to present evidence that includes proof of a “full and final adoption,” as specified by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). At this time, the adopting parent must also be able to satisfy custody and residence requirements. Only once these requirements have been met can the adoption be cited as the basis for receiving immigration benefits. In addition, only current U.S. citizens and permanent residents (green card holders) can petition under this process.

Who qualifies?

The Immediate Relative Process is not applicable to all cases. In fact, a very specific set of criteria must be met if an adopted child is to be considered the child of his or her adoptibr parent for immigration purposes. These requirements are as follows:

  • The child was adopted by their current parents before their 16th birthday
  • The adoptive parents can provide evidence of a full and final adoption
  • The adoptive parents had legal and physical custody of the child for at least two years of the child’s legal status as a minor
  • The legal custody of an adopted child must have resulted from a formal grant of custody that was issued by the court or another government entity
  • We would also like to point out that there are certain situations in which these requirements can be waived. For example, the two-year custody and residence requirement may be dismissed if it can be proven that the child was a victim of abuse. Additional caveats to the aforementioned requirements include:

  • Custody and residence arrangements that preceded the actual adoption of a child
  • The adopted child is the birth sibling of another child who was previously adopted by the same parent(s) before the other child’s 16th birthday; and the child immigrated to the U.S. through the Immediate Relative Process
  • The adopted child is the birth sibling of another child who has already been adopted by the same parent(s) before that child’s 16th birthday; and the child immigrated to the U.S. as an orphan based on his or her adoption by the same parent(s)
  • Defining the Specifics: Who Can File

    Just as there are requirements for the children who qualify for adoption through the Immediate Relative process, so too are there requirements for the adults who will actually be executing the adoption. In order to be able to petition for a relative by adoption, the adult must be a current U.S. citizen or a permanent resident.

    Adults who hold U.S. citizenship can file a petition for an adopted child who is unwed and under the age of 21; a son or daughter who is unwed and over the age of 21; or a married son or daughter. Adults who are permanent residents can file a petition for an adopted child who is unwed and under the age of 21 or an unwed son or daughter who is over the age of 21.

    If you would like more information about the Immediate Relative Process as it might apply to your family’s situation, please contact an attorney at our firm. We are more than happy to meet with you about your immigration questions, so don’t hesitate to utilize the services that we have to offer. With our help, you can feel confident in the efforts you take moving forward.