Frequently Asked Questions about Adopting While Living in US

No, an orphan cannot legally immigrate to the United States without Citizen and Immigration Services processing.

If you completed a domestic adoption in China prior to becoming a U.S. citizen, you will need to file an immigration petition for your child with the Department of Homeland Security’s Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Your fingerprint clearance files expire 15 months after the date that Citizen and Immigration Services received a response from the FBI, which is approximately 15 months from the date the FBI fingerprinted you.  Citizen and Immigration Services prints the validity of fingerprint clearances on the notice of approval for the I-800A and the I-800.

Please visit Citizen and Immigration Services fingerprint processing for further information.

Please contact the Citizen and Immigration Services office that received your application. Visit the Citizen and Immigration Services’ Find a USCIS Office page for contact information.

Adoptive parents may travel to China as soon as the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) sends a travel permission letter to your adoption agency. The Chinese government requires all adoptive parents to work with an approved adoption agency.

When you decide to pick up your child is your decision and should be coordinated with your agency. However, your child cannot go to the United States without an immigrant visa. This requires an immigrant visa interview at U.S. Consulate Guangzhou. Before coming to China, prospective adoptive parents should work with their adoption agencies to schedule an immigrant visa interview with U.S. Consulate Guangzhou’s Adopted Children’s Immigrant Visa Unit.

When you or your agency submits an appointment request, please include five realistic appointment dates. We will schedule your appointment of the first available of the five dates. All appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-serve basis. We do not reserve certain days for children of certain ages or medical conditions.

We understand that plans change and occasionally an agency will need to request that the date or time of an appointment be changed, but we ask that you limit these requests to cases that are true emergencies.   Please understand that if your agency cancels or changes an appointment, we may have already turned down other agencies’ and families’ requests for an appointment on that date.  Frequent requests to change appointment times hinder our ability to accommodate other families’ preferences and travel plans.

You should not finalize travel plans until you or your agency has received confirmation of your appointment from the adoptions unit in writing. Failure to secure an appointment in advance of your travel to China may result in a delay in China for several days or longer, particularly during busy periods.

No, this is not a problem. The non-traveling spouse should work with the adoption agency to ensure that all forms, signatures, and proper power of attorneys are prepared in advance for the traveling spouse. Under the Hague Adoption Convention, your child will receive an IH3 visa regardless of whether one or two parents travel to China.

Please consult adoption.state.gov, your adoption agency, and/or USCIS about procedures required to finalize your child’s adoption and for your child to obtain U.S. citizenship.

The US Consulate in Guangzhou requires a minimum of two working days to process immigrant visas for adopted children. Parents are strongly advised to keep this processing time in mind when booking return travel to the United States.

Expedites for visa return for critical medical situations that require immediate travel to the United States will be handled on a case by case basis. You or your adoption agency are encouraged to contact the Consulate prior to the visa interview so that we can work in advance to facilitate more immediate travel. We will require a physician’s note explaining the type of emergency care needed.

If major household changes have occurred since the parent’s I-800A or I-600A petition approval, such as changes in employment or residence, number of people living in the family’s residence, members of family over 15 years of age, finances, and/or the family is adopting a special needs child but was approved for a child with no special needs, the family is required to submit a home study amendment to USCIS, who will then update the approval for the family.  Please visit USCIS’ Home Study Information page for details.  As the process of getting an updated approval may take a week or more, families and adoptions agencies are urged to submit home study amendments to USCIS as soon as possible to prevent delays in the visa issuance of the child.

The Child Citizenship Act (CCA) declares that children who are younger than 18 years of age and have at least one parent who is a U.S. citizen, whether by birth or naturalization, will acquire automatic citizenship if the child has received an IH3 and the parents live in the United States. Expat families please see our Frequently Asked Questions While Living Overseas below.

We strongly advise that your child no longer travel on his or her Chinese passport after he or she enters the United States. As your child is expected to acquire U.S. citizenship, China will likely no longer recognize your child’s Chinese citizenship. Accordingly, we strongly recommend that you obtain a U.S. passport for your child’s future travels. Should your child visit China in the future, your child will be required to present his or her original Chinese passport to the Chinese Embassy or Consulate for cancellation before a visa will be issued. Also, please note that Chinese passport holders are subject to different visa requirements than U.S. passport holders.

According to the provisions of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, most recipients of an IH3 visa become citizens of the United States the moment an official at a U.S. border stamps their passport. (See Frequently Asked Questions While Living Oversees for exceptions.) You can therefore take your child’s Chinese passport that contains the IH3 visa and the U.S. admittance stamp to any passport agency to apply for a U.S. passport. In order to receive the child’s passport, you will need: (1) Evidence of the child’s relationship to a U.S. citizen parent (a certified copy of the final adoption decree); (2) the child’s foreign passport with Citizen and Immigration Services’ I-551 stamp or the child’s resident alien card; and (3) the parent’s valid identification.

All immigrant visa applicants are required to undergo a medical examination with a panel physician, whose report will determine whether or not the child has any medical reasons for not receiving a visa. The consulate bases any visa medical ineligibilities on this report, not on any other medical reports. If the panel physician’s medical examination determines the child is suspected of having TB, the child will need to undergo further testing and possible treatment before being cleared to receive an immigrant visa.

While it is understandable to want to avoid delays while in China, no specific measures can be taken in advance of the family’s traveling to China until the child’s medical situation is determined by a panel physician.  However, if the child has already been diagnosed with TB and is currently receiving TB treatment, the family should contact the consulate at GuangzhouA@state.gov for specific guidance.

Chinese law governing Chinese adoption states that children 14 and older cannot be adopted. Both the Hague Convention and orphan adoption processing requires months for appropriate approvals to be completed. The consulate is willing to expedite its own internal processes, but cannot estimate the amount of time USCIS and CCCWA will require to finish their own processes. Families planning on adopting a teenage child should keep in mind the months that may be required to complete the paperwork.