Thursday, November 15, 2012

Adoptions of Foreign Born Children Present Tricky Issues

I have often been asked whether adopting a niece or nephew can serve as an easy way to allow that child to immigrate to the United States.  While it seems like a simple proposition, in reality, the legal issues are quite difficult.

This is not the same as when a couple goes to an adoption agency and adopts an orphan from someplace overseas, like China or Russia.  In that situation, if you use a reputable agency, they will be quite familiar with the immigration rules, and will usually help you address them.

What I am talking about are intra-family adoptions.  You want to adopt a nephew or a cousin.  In those situations, the immigration rules make it virtually impossible for a permanent resident to adopt a family member and bring that family member to the United States.

The reason is that if a person is adopting a non-orphan, then the parents must do so before age 16, and must live with the child for 2 years before the child can come to the United States.  For a permanent resident, any trip overseas for greater than six month is considered to be an abandonment of permanent residency.

Consider very carefully whether adopting a foreign-born relative makes sense for you.  Consult with an attorney, and make sure you know the rules before you invest your time and emotions.  Hasty moves could end in great disappointment.

I discuss the immigration rules as they apply to adoptions here.

By: William J. Kovatch, Jr.
(703) 837-8832

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