I-800 Hague Adoption Convention (HAC) Process

Fall 2009 Philadelphia Regional Immigration Conference Sponsored by the Chester County Bar Association, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Changes in International Adoption & immigration BY: C.J. Lyford, Esq. Date of presentation: October 30, 2009

Prepared by C.J. Lyford, Esquire
632 Germantown Ave.
Lafayette Hill, PA 19444

Examples of Countries that are Hague Parties: China, Columbia, Thailand, India, Mexico, Guatemala, Cambodia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Poland, Brazil, Moldova

I. Who Can Adopt

See previous comments re I-600 and increased information required in Home Study Report below.

II. Who Can Be Adopted

A. U.S. Immigration Requirements (IAA: The U.S. Law Implementing the Hague Has Expanded Definition.)

  1. New Hague definition has expanded definition. Child meets requirements if:
    • Same as 1-600, if child has no parents, abandoned by or separated from parents.
    • However, allows two living parents if the parents are unable to provide for the child’s basic needs, consistent with the local standards of the child’s country of origin, and they irrevocably release the child for adoption and emigration.
    • If a child has only a sole or surviving parent, only has to release the child for emigration and adoption. (No proof required that parent is unable to provide basic care for the child.)
  2. Under the age of 16 when the I-600 Petition is filed. Same as I-600 process but there is no sibling exception.
  3. Adoption of nonrelated identified child very difficult because no contact is allowed between PAP and child or representatives of child unless foreign country central authority states on a case by case basis that it is not prohibited.
  4. Relative adoption still allowed if child meets requirements.

B. Foreign Law

Hague Convention process requires that active efforts must be made to keep child within family or within country before child can be adopted internationally.

III. Process / How to Do It

A. U.S. Immigration Requirements

  1. USCIS Forms: I-800A Application and I-800 Petition
    • Parent I-800A must be approved first before child can be referred and I-800 Petition filed.
    • CIS must determine that the parents are suitable before the authorities in the other country place a specific child with them for adoption.
  2. Department of State (DOS is the Central Authority)
  3. U.S. Adoption Placement (APA) agency. If APA is used, it must be a Hague Accredited Agency as well as licensed to place children by state law.
  4. PAP can still do an independent adoption, if allowed under foreign country law, but some of the logistics under HAC are ambiguous.
  5. PAP has much more info avail about agency re fees, insurance, policies, etc.
  6. Pre-placement Home Study Report: PAP must meet much more extensive requirements and detail re suitability and documentation of such; Increased parent education.
  7. Adoption only takes place only after I-800 Petition has been provisionally approved by CIS.
  8. VISAS
    • If adoption is final in foreign country, consulate will issue an IH3 visa, even if a proxy adoption. Child becomes a USC automatically when U.S. is entered based on the CCA and CIS will issue a COC.
    • If adoption is not final in foreign country, for example, India and Thailand, consulate will issue an IH4 visa. Child will not become a USC at entry & will not be a USC until adoption finalized in U.S. state. CIS will not automatically issue a COC and parent will have to apply for COC through the N-600 to get proof of U.S. citizenship.

B. Foreign Country Law Process

Depends, as described under I-600; country’s CA ensures that intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests and that the necessary consents have been freely given.

C. PA State Law

  1. If adoption completed abroad: child is issued IH3 visa & foreign adoption can be registered in the local country court of parent residence and PA birth certificate can he obtained. Readoption is optional.
  2. If adoption not completed abroad and issued IH4:
    • ICPC certification is required before child can come to U.S.
    • Adoption must be finalized in local country court of parent residence or where PA country where placement agency has its place of business to become a USC and get PA birth certificate; To document child’s U.S. citizenship, parent should apply for COC and U.S. Passport; Finalization based on Pennsylvania Adoption Act but process and requirements for finalization of foreign country adoption will depend on the PA county where adoption is finalized.

Client Reviews

What CJ Lyford accomplished was simply amazing. My daughter, who I adopted in a foreign court while living abroad, was sworn in as a US citizen just hours before aging out of eligibility for N-600K. The Field Office Director told us that this was one of the most memorable cases in which he'd been...


CJ was absolutely amazing from beginning to end helping us get our adopted son his American Citizenship! Excellent, punctual and great to work with! We are beyond grateful!


We had a very unique immigration case - CJ was making sure we had the right documents and researched similar cases. It was a long road but we were prepared and there were no surprises. The long wait paid off. Surely would recommend her expertise and professionalism.


CJ Lyford helped us with the US part of the adoption of our daughter from Malaysia. She gave us information which led us choose a different route which was simpler and quicker than the one we had previously been led. She made contact with the officials to set up appointments that where convenient...


C.J. has a pleasure to work with, and as an attorney myself, I have very high standards. She was also the most reasonably priced, considering the high level of service provided.


I am very pleased with the help that Ms. Lyford was able to provide. I adopted while living abroad and faced challenges in finalizing the adoption in the US and obtaining my daughter's US citizenship. Ms. Lyford was with us from the beginning, laying out a workable roadmap to get where we needed to...


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