Form I-600 Application Process: A Guide for Adopting a Foreign Child

The Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, is a critical document in the United States immigration process for orphaned children. It’s used by U.S. citizens who wish to adopt a child from another country that is not a party to the Hague Adoption Convention. The form serves as a request for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to classify an orphan as an immediate relative, which facilitates the child’s immigration to the United States.

To file the Form I-600, the petitioner must be a U.S. citizen. If married, both spouses must sign the petition and agree to adopt the child. Single petitioners must be at least 25 years old when they file.

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The form requires detailed information about the petitioner, the orphaned child, and the adoption circumstances. It is the step that solidifies the child’s eligibility to immigrate after the adoption is final.

The process of filing Form I-600 involves gathering and submitting various documents to demonstrate that the adopted child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. These documents include proof of the child’s age, parental status, and the legal end of parental rights, as well as evidence that the U.S. citizen has properly adopted or intends to adopt the child. The precise filing instructions depend on the petitioner’s circumstances, emphasizing the procedural importance of the form for successful citizenship or residency of the adopted child.

Overview of Form I-600

Form I-600, titled Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, is a document used by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The primary objective of this form is to facilitate the classification of an orphan as an immediate relative, thereby allowing them to immigrate to the United States.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen.
  • The child must be an orphan as defined by immigration law.

Key Components of Form I-600:

  • Identification of the adoptive parent(s)
  • Details about the orphan
  • Legal custodianship information
  • Basis for classification as an immediate relative

Purpose: The form serves as a request from U.S. citizens who are prospective adoptive parents. It is essential for finalizing the immigration process for a child not habitually resident in a Hague Convention country.

Filing Process: Form I-600 should be filed following the specific instructions provided, including the ‘Where to File’ guidance. Compliance with these instructions ensures accurate and expeditious processing.

Validity and Updates: The form carries an expiration date and an Office of Management and Budget (OMB) number. It is crucial for applicants to use the most current version to avoid delays or denials.

By accurately completing Form I-600, the petitioner can establish that the child qualifies as an orphan under U.S. immigration law and is eligible for an immigrant visa as an immediate relative.

Eligibility Criteria

The Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, outlines specific requirements that both the child and the adoptive parents must satisfy. These criteria are essential for a successful petition.

Child Eligibility

To be eligible, the child must:

  • Be under the age of 16 when the petition is filed; exceptions allow for petitions to be filed before the child’s 18th birthday in certain circumstances.
  • Meet the definition of an “orphan” as per U.S. immigration law, which generally means that the child no longer has parents due to death, disappearance, abandonment, or a similar reason, or has a sole or surviving parent unable to care for the child who has, in writing, irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
  • Be habitually resident in a country that is not a party to the Hague Adoption Convention.

Adoptive Parents’ Eligibility

The adoptive parents must:

  • Be U.S. citizens. If married, both spouses must jointly file the petition.
  • File the Form I-600 before the child’s 16th birthday or before the 18th birthday under specific conditions.
  • Not file concurrently with Form I-600A unless a valid, approved I-600A exists. Form I-600A approval indicates the suitability and eligibility of the adoptive parents to adopt.

It is crucial to adhere to these criteria to facilitate the child’s classification as an immediate relative, allowing them to enter and reside in the United States.

Application Process

The application process for USCIS Form I-600 requires careful attention to filing requirements, supporting documents, and the procedure for submitting the application.

Filing Requirements

Form I-600, “Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative,” is used by U.S. citizens to adopt orphans from non-Hague Convention countries. The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen, and the orphan must be habitually resident in a non-Hague Convention country to proceed with the application.

Supporting Documents

Key documents to accompany Form I-600 include:

  • Proof of the child’s orphan status.
  • Evidence of the adoptive parents’ U.S. citizenship.
  • A final adoption decree or custody documents for the purpose of adoption.
  • A statement declaring the adoptive parents’ intent to adopt the child.

Submitting the Application

The completed Form I-600 and all supporting documentation must be submitted to the appropriate USCIS office. Applicants should consult the USCIS website or contact the USCIS directly to determine the current designated filing locations and to ensure that all requirements are met before submission.

Adjudication Procedure

The adjudication procedure for Form I-600 entails various steps, each critical in determining if an orphan may be classified as an immediate relative and thereby eligible to enter the United States.

Initial Review

During the initial review of Form I-600, officials from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) assess whether all required documents are present and properly completed. They confirm the presence of an underlying valid and approved Form I-600A, which is essential for a concurrent filing scenario.

Requests for Evidence

If the adjudicating officer uncovers gaps in the documentation or needs additional information, USCIS may issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs). These requests are directed to the applicant to supply the necessary evidence to establish eligibility.

Decision Making Process

In the decision-making phase, USCIS officers evaluate all evidence presented. They make determinations on suitability and eligibility to adopt based on the information provided in the Form I-600 and any supplementary documents. If the officer concludes that the applicant is inadmissible but eligible for a waiver, they have the discretion to grant this waiver without further submissions by the applicant.

Post-Decision Steps

Once a Form I-600 decision is reached, applicants must proceed according to the outcome, ensuring compliance with USCIS guidelines for the next steps.

Approval and Next Steps

Upon approval of Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, USCIS will notify the U.S. Department of State or the National Visa Center. This begins the process for the orphan to obtain an immigrant visa.

  • Notification to the Department of State: The approved petition is sent to initiate visa processing.
  • Visa Application: The child’s visa application proceeds, including medical examinations and scheduling an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate if required.

If Denied: Understanding Your Options

A denial of Form I-600 can be followed by certain options for the applicant:

  • Review of Decision: They may seek to understand the reasons for denial and ensure no errors influenced the decision.
  • Motion to Reopen or Reconsider: If new information or evidence is available, they can file a motion to reopen the case (must be based on factual grounds) or reconsider (must be based on legal grounds).

Legal Considerations

Form I-600 plays a pivotal role in determining a child’s eligibility for immigration to the United States as an orphan. This process is governed by a legal framework that directly impacts the immigration status of the child and entails post-adoption requirements.

Immigration Status Impact

Filing Form I-600, the Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, is a critical step for U.S. citizens seeking to adopt an orphan from another country. The approval of this form confers on the child a classification necessary to apply for an immigrant visa as an immediate relative. The petitioner must ensure all legal criteria are met, including proving the child’s orphan status and the adoptive parent’s eligibility to adopt. It is vital to understand that any discrepancies or errors during this process could significantly delay or affect the child’s immigration status.

Post-Adoption Requirements

Upon the approval of Form I-600, adoptive parents must comply with specific post-adoption legal requirements. These are mandated to ensure the welfare of the adopted child and can include:

  • Home Country Legalities: Some countries have legal stipulations that must be observed even after the adoption is completed and the child has immigrated to the United States.
  • U.S. State Laws: Adoptive parents must also adhere to the laws of their resident state regarding adoption, which can vary significantly across the U.S. It’s crucial for adoptive parents to remain informed of their state’s legal post-adoption mandates to secure the child’s legal status in the family and the country.

Renewal and Amendments

The Form I-600 process includes specific provisions for renewing approvals and amending filed information to ensure the petition remains accurate and current.

Renewing Expired Forms

When a Form I-600A, “Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition,” expires and the petitioner has not yet filed Form I-600, “Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative,” they are not required to extend or file a new Form I-600A. Expiration of Form I-600A: does not necessitate a renewal if Form I-600 has already been filed for the child.

Amending Filed Information

Petitioners must notify U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) if there are significant changes in their circumstances after filing Form I-600. Requests to amend filed information can include a change of country or corrections to previously submitted details. These requests should be made promptly to ensure the accuracy of the petition and compliance with USCIS requirements.

  • If the home study preparer’s report is more than six months old, or there is a request for a change of country not originally recommended,
  • The petitioner should seek guidance from USCIS on the appropriate amendment process to update their filing.

Resources and Assistance

Successfully navigating the process for Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, entails understanding where to find reliable assistance and resources. Individuals may need legal advice or guidance from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at various stages of the process.

Getting Legal Help

Legal assistance can be critical when filing Form I-600. Individuals should consider consulting with an attorney or accredited representative. USCIS permits attorneys or accredited representatives to complete and submit forms on behalf of the applicant if a Form G-28 (Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Accredited Representative) is attached.

  • Finding an Attorney: Individuals may search for an attorney through the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) or contact local nonprofit organizations that provide low-cost immigration legal services.
  • Accredited Representatives: USCIS recognizes accredited representatives who are affiliated with recognized organizations. Information regarding these representatives can be found on the USCIS website.

Contacting USCIS for Help

For guidance relating to Form I-600, USCIS offers resources and assistance. Applicants may contact USCIS directly for help with the process.

  • USCIS Contact Center: For questions or clarifications, individuals may reach out to the USCIS Contact Center by phone or by scheduling an in-person appointment through the InfoPass system.
  • USCIS Website: The website provides the latest forms, filing instructions, and information on processing times. The site also offers a ‘Check Case Status’ tool, allowing applicants to stay informed on the status of their petition.