IR4 Visa: Children Adopted Within The U.S By A U.S Citizen

The Immediate Relative visa is one of the various categories within the US immigrant visas. The immediate relatives or families of us citizens who live out of the US are favored by this group of visas. These group of visas uses the letter IR to represent them. So whenever you see a visa denoted by IR, you know it is an Immediate Relative Visa. The Immediate Relative Visas Include the following:

As clearly depicted above, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and siblings do not qualify as immediate relatives. It is only limited to the parents, the children and the spouse of the US citizen.

This article entails details about the IR4 visa, its requirements, application process, and other relevant information.


The IR4 Visa is the visa that is given to a child who is to be adopted by a US Citizen within the US.

Most US citizens love adopting children from foreign countries. But for this children to be able to move to the US and live with their adoptive parents in the US they need to obtain valid US Immigrant Visa. Several US immigrant visas permit US citizens to be able to adopt in this way, but the IR4 and IR3 visas are the main ones.

With an IR-4 visa, the US Citizen who intends to adopt the child from the foreign country can bring the kid to the US to complete the entire adoption process. Unlike the IR-3 Visa where the parent doing the adoption has to go through all the process of adoption abroad in the up until completion in the foreign country, the IR-4 visa gives the to be parents the opportunity to bring this child to the US for the completion of the adoption process.

The IR4 visa permits the parent to first bring the child to the US, complete the adoption and the child can then remain in the US legally. The adopted child can work and school in the United States without needing to have an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). More to these, the child can apply for US citizenship when eligible.

individuals applying for the IR4 Visa has the advantage of completing the visa application faster in order to be able to live in America as a legal family. Also, the IR-4 visa has the advantage of not having an annual limit to the number of visas issued.

What Are The Different Types Of Adoption That Qualify For The IR4 Visa?

The US government recognizes only two types of adoptions which depends solely on the country from which the child is being adopted. These adoption types are:

  • Hague country convention adoption
  • Non-Hague country adoptions

In 1993, the Hague adoption convention was signed. Also, specific rules and regulations about intercountry adoption was set. The application procedure varies depending on whether the US citizen adopts the child from a Hague or non-Hague convention country.

The following table shows the Hague convention countries; however, due to other political reasons, US citizens are not allowed to adopt from the countries in bold.

Hague Convention Countries
Albania Cote d’Ivoire Haiti Mexico Seychelles
Andorra Costa Rica Hungary Moldova Slovakia
Armenia Croatia Iceland Monaco Slovenia
Australia Cuba India Mongolia South Africa
Austria Cyprus Ireland Montenegro Spain
Azerbaijan Czech Republic Israel Namibia Sri Lanka
Belarus Denmark Italy Netherlands Swaziland
Belgium Dominican Republic Kazakhstan New Zealand Sweden
Belize Ecuador Kenya Norway Switzerland
Bolivia El Salvador Kyrgyzstan Panama Thailand
Brazil Estonia Latvia Paraguay Togo
Bulgaria Fiji Lesotho Peru Turkey
Burkina Faso Finland Liechtenstein Philippines United Kingdom
Burundi France Lithuania Poland Uruguay
Cambodia Georgia Luxembourg Portugal Venezuela
Canada Germany North Macedonia Romania Vietnam
Cape Verde Ghana Madagascar Rwanda Zambia
Chile Greece Mali San Marino
China Guatemala Malta Senegal
Colombia Guinea Mauritius Serbia

Adopting from any country other than the above-mentioned means the US citizen is adopting outside the Hague convention rules which implies that many other regulations and application procedures may be applied.

IR4 Visa Requirements

Certain requirements need to be met by both the adoptive parents (US Citizens) and the child who is to be adopted from the foreign country in order to be eligible for the IR-4 visa. These requirements include:

  • The child must be below 21 years old and unmarried
  • The US citizen must have a valid US address
  • The child must be eligible based on the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA)
  • The US citizen parent must pass an eligibility test by US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and must be willing to adopt the child.
  • The child must either be from a Hague or non-Hague convention country.
  • The Citizen of the United States who is the adopting the child must have concrete plans of bringing that child or children to the US, live with them and also take care of them.
  • The adoptive parent who is the US citizen will first of all have to be the guardian of the child to be adopted in the foreign country before going back to the US to proceed with the complete adoption process.

The US citizen must apply for the IR3 visa if they have intentions of adopting the child while abroad in the foreign country. If the adoptive parent (US Citizen) had already adopted and lived with the child for over two years in a foreign country, then it is recommended to apply for an IR2 visa instead of the IR4 Visa.

IR4 Visa Application Process?

Bearing in mind that there are two types of inter-country adoptions for the IR4 visa, the applicants will need to take different application procedures and steps. Here is the application procedure for both Hague and Non-Hague convention countries.


  1. Get approval for adoption eligibility. This must be done by Filing form I-800A, determination on suitability to adopt a child from a convention country to USCIS. To file this form, you must have completed a background check, fingerprint check as well as your eligibility to adopt a child with special needs.
  2. Apply to adopt a child from your preferred Hague convention country. The authorities of the said country will review your file and approval from USCIS and find a child suitable for you to adopt. The requirements may vary according to Hague country so be sure to check what you need to submit. When the authorities find children who meet the eligibility criteria that country, they will send a referral documents to you. The document will contain the child’s background, family history, medical history and also any special needs. The file will also have the necessary signed consent by the required parties such as the biological parents, and the adoption center.
  3. File form I-800; petition to classify convention adoptee as immediate relative to USCIS. If this form were approved, it would mean that the child you wish to adopt is eligible to immigrate to the US. You must also prove that you have not gained guardianship of the child yet. This helps prevent US citizens from adopting kids who aren’t eligible for immigration to the US.
  4.  Submit form DS-260, online immigrant visa application to the US embassy or consulate of the country in which the child is being adopted. This form requires information about the child’s background and other relevant details. You must obtain a confirmation letter and number after submitting this form online.
  5. You will be issued a letter called Article 5/17 by the US Embassy or Consulate if all your documents are correct. This letter indicates that the child you wish to adopt is qualified to immigrate to the US. You are allowed to get a guardianship order for the child only after receiving this letter. For the IR4 visa, you are not allowed to adopt the child in the foreign country but must do so when you bring them to the US. You must apply for the IR3 visa if you wish to adopt them in their country of residence.
  6.  After obtaining the guardianship order, you must submit the supporting documents to the US embassy or consulate. This usually consists of the child’s birth certificate, medical documents, and passport. Also, You should schedule an appointment for an interview at the US embassy and be sure to keep track of time and attend your interview. Be sure to submit your final adoption or guardianship order to the officials during this interview. At this point after the processing, the US embassy will decide whether or not to grant the IR4 visa to the child.


There are other application procedures for the non-Hague convention countries as shown below;

  1. Choose an adoption center in the country from which you wish to adopt. You won’t get any recommendations on US approved adoption centers since it is no part of the Hague convention countries. The decision is yours to make.
  2. File form I-600A, application for advance processing of an orphan petition to USCIS to determine whether you are suitable to be an adoptive parent or not. USCIS will run a background check, fingerprint check and a home study to decide if you are qualified to adopt children. Unlike the adoption process of the Hague convention country, it will not evaluate the child’s classification as an orphan
  3. Obtain a guardianship order from the country in which you intend to adopt the child. By implication, you must meet the requirements of the said country concerning supporting documents and the procedures you must follow.
  4. File form I-600, petition to classify orphan as an immediate relative to USCIS so that you can get approval on whether the child is eligible for immigration according to US laws. Attach supporting documents to the petition such as:
  • Child’s birth certificate or written explanation about the identity and age of the child in the absence of the birth certificate.
  • Evidence that the child’s biological parents are unable to provide for the child properly, and have consented to give the child up for adoption or that the child has no parents.
  • Evidence that you have gotten guardianship of the child and your intention to complete the adoption process upon the child’s arrival in the US.
  • When this has been completed, USCIS or a consular officer in the country you are adopting the child from will complete form I-604. If the form is approved, then the National Visa Center will update you on the next steps that should be taken.
  • Submit your application for the IR-4 visa by filing form DS-260, which is an online immigrant visa application form. Also, you have to schedule your visa interview and make sure you attend on the scheduled date. Provide your complete file of documents for the child’s adoption at the interview.


There are certain fees that must be paid when filing forms as well as other fees that may come up. These fees you will pay will depend on the application steps that you be going through. The amounts to be paid are determined only by USCIS. The fees that will be paid for are the:

  • Form I-800A filing fee
  • Form I-800 filing fee
  • Form DS-260 processing fee
  • Form I-600A filing fee
  • Form I-600 filing fee
  • Translation fees
  • Fees to obtain supporting documents

IR4 Visa Processing Time

There is no specific processing time for the IR-4 visa provided by USCIS. It generally depends on the length of time it takes for you to get guardianship of the child in your intended adoption country. The IR-4 visa has an estimated processing time of 6months to a year. You will be allowed to bring the child to the US after this period. While in the US, you must complete the adoption process as per US laws and regulations


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