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IR4 Visa Guide for Guardianship of Adopted Foreign Child

IR4 Visa is for many US citizens who wish to adopt children from foreign countries. Because the IR4 Visa is designed for children who are to be adopted by a US citizen within the US. It allows parents to bring the child to the US from a different country.

Moreover, There are different types of US immigrant visas that allow US citizens to adopt in this way, but the main ones are the IR-4 and the IR-3 visa. While others are IR1 visa for the spouse of a US citizen, IR2 visa for the unmarried children under 21 years old of a US citizen, IR3 visa for children adopted abroad by a US citizen, IR4 visa for children to be adopted within the US by a US citizen, IR5 visa for parents of a US citizen who is at least 21 years old.

This article will guide you through on how to apply for an IR4 Visa, the requirements, and the cost of applying for an IR4 Visa.

Meaning of IR4 Visa

The IR4 Visa is a Visa that allows US parents to bring a child they want to adopt from foreign countries to the US, complete adoption, and then the child can remain in the US legally. The child can attend school and when able, can also start working without needing an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).

Moreover, the IR4 Visa allows parents to obtain guardianship of the child in the foreign country and then bring the child to the US to complete the adoption. With the IR-3 visa, the parents from the US must complete the adoption process in the foreign country before the child can get the visa.

Moreover, the IR4 Visa is beneficial because it does not have an annual limit on the number of visas issued. That is why those who apply for it can complete processing much faster and be able to live in the US as a family.

Types of adoption that qualify for the IR4 Visa

The US has two types of adoption recognized by the US government and they depend upon the country from which the child was adopted. They are:

  1. Hague country convention adoptions
  2. Non-Hague country adoptions

Hague Country Convention Adoptions

In 1993, the Hague Adoption Convention was signed and specified rules and regulations about intercountry adoption. Depending on whether the US citizen adopts the child from a Hague Convention Country or a Non-Hague Convention Country and the application procedures.

The following countries are part of The Hague Convention Countries:

  • Albania
  • 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
  • Maan Marino
  • China
  • Guatemala
  • Malta
  • Senegal
  • Colombia
  • Guinea
  • Mauritius
  • Serbia

Moreover, adopting from any other country other than those above means that the US citizen is adopting outside the Hague Convention rules and other regulations and application procedures will apply.

Requirements for IR4 Visa

To be eligible for the IR4 Visa, there are requirements for both the child from the foreign country being adopted and the adoptive parents who are US citizens. These requirements are as follows:

  • The child must meet the adoption criteria from the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  • And the child must be under 21 years old and unmarried.
  • The child must be from either a Hague or
  • Non-Hague Convention Country.
  • The US citizens must be willing to obtain guardianship of the child in the foreign country and then adopt it in the US.
  • US citizens must pass an eligibility test by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  • And the US citizens must plan to bring the child to the US to live with them.
  • The US citizens must have a valid US address.

So if the US citizens plan to adopt the child while in a foreign country, then they must apply for the IR-3 visa. Also, if the US citizens have adopted the child and lived in the foreign country with the child for at least 2 years, then they are eligible to apply for an IR-2 visa.

How to apply for the IR4 Visa

There are two types of intercountry adoptions for the IR4 Visa, the application procedures and steps that applicants need to take are different. Below are the process for both the Hague and Non-Hague Country Conventions.

Hague Country Convention Application Process

#1. Choose your preferred Adoption Service Provider

Before you adopt from the Hague Convention Countries, you must choose the US Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider in the foreign country in which you want to adopt. This rule allows you to adopt from an agency that is within applicable laws and regulations.

#2. File Form I-800A

The next thing is to File Form I-800A. This is a Determination on Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country to USCIS. This form, if approved, will make you eligible for adoption. USCIS will check your filled form, and perform a background check, fingerprint check, and a home study. Based on this, they will send recommendations on the age range and number of children that you are allowed to adopt. Additionally, they will also specify whether you are allowed to adopt children with special needs.

#3. Apply to be matched with a child in your preferred foreign country

At this point, you will apply to be matched with a child in your preferred foreign country which is part of the Hague Convention. The authorities of the country will review your documents and you must check with them for a list of what you need to provide. They will also require your USCIS approval and then recommend children who meet the eligibility criteria. Each child will have a file that contains their background information, medical and special needs, and consent forms from the necessary parties (biological parents, adoption center, etc).

#4. File Form I-800

File Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative to USCIS. This form, if approved, will mean that the child you want to adopt is eligible to immigrate to the US. Also, you must show that you have not yet gained guardianship of the child. This is to prevent US citizens from gaining guardianship or adopting children who are not eligible to immigrate.

#5. Submit Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application to the US Embassy

After all the forms have been approved, you can start the visa application for the child you intend to adopt in the US. Submit Form Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application to the US Embassy or Consulate of the foreign country from where the child will be adopted. The DS-260 will require the background information of the child and other details. The form is submitted online and afterward, you will get a confirmation letter and number.

#6. Receive Article 5/17 Letter from US Embassy

If all your documents are in order, the US Embassy or Consulate will issue a letter called Article 5/17 Letter which means that the child you want to adopt is eligible to immigrate to the US. Only at this point when you get this letter, you are then allowed to get a guardianship order for the child. For the IR4 Visa, you cannot adopt the child in a foreign country but must bring them to the US to do so. If you want to adopt the child in their country of residence, you must apply for the IR-3 visa.

#7. Submit the supporting documents to the US Embassy

When you obtain the guardianship order, submit the supporting documents to the US Embassy or Consulate. This includes the following:

  • child’s birth certificate
  • passport
  • medical documents

#8. Schedule an interview

Also, schedule an interview at the US Embassy and attend it. During the interview, you will submit your final guardianship order to the officials to have the application completed. At this point, after the processing, the US Embassy will decide whether to give the IR4 Visa to the child or not.

Non-Hague Convention Application Procedures

If you are applying to a Non-Hague Convention countries, there are other application procedures to follow which are:

#1. Choose an adoption center

First you will choose an adoption center in the country where you want to adopt the child. Since the country is not part of the Hague Convention Countries, you will not get recommendations on the US approved centers, but must make the decision yourself.

#2. File Form I-600A

The next is to File Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition to USCIS. This form as well as the background and fingerprint check, and the home study will determine your eligibility to adopt a child from a foreign country. USCIS will not make any recommendations on the child’s classification, however, which is different from the procedures of the Hague Convention.

#3. Obtain a guardianship order

At this point, you obtain a guardianship order from the country where you plan to adopt the child. This means that you must meet the requirements of that particular country regarding supporting documents and the procedures you must follow.

#4. File Form I-600

File Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative to USCIS to determine whether the child you want to adopt is eligible for immigration to the US. The following supporting documents must be submitted:

#5. Supporting documents

Child’s birth certificate or written explanation about the identity and age of the child if the birth certificate is not available
Evidence that the child does not have parents or that the biological parents are unable to provide proper care and have consented to give up their child for adoption
Evidence that you have obtained guardianship of the child and you intend to complete adoption procedures once the child arrives in the US

#6. Complete Form I-604

Next, USCIS or a Consular Officer in the country you are adopting the child from will complete Form I-604. If the form has been approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will notify you of the next steps you must take.

#7. Submit the IR4 Visa application by filing Form DS-260

Submit the IR4 Visa application by filing Form DS-260, Online Immigrant Visa Application as well as schedule your visa interview. At the interview, provide your complete file of documents for the child’s adoption.

IR4 Visa fees

Depending on which application procedure you will follow, you must pay the fees associated with filing the forms as well as other supporting fees. The amounts are determined by USCIS, but in general, these are the fees that apply:

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


How long is the IR4 Visa processing time?

USCIS does not provide a specific time it will take to process the application for an IR4 Visa. In general, this depends also on the length of time it takes for you to gain guardianship of the child in the foreign country where you intend to adopt. However, an estimate of the IR4 Visa processing time is 6 months to 1 year, after which you will be allowed to bring the child to the US. When in the US, you must then follow other procedures to complete the adoption as per US laws and regulations.

Do I Get Access to American Healthcare With an IR4 Visa?

Yes, you will have access to healthcare in the United States as an IR4 visa holder, however, the costs of getting medical treatment in the US are one of the highest in the world.

The treatment of a broken leg or broken arm will cost you $2,500, while staying at a US hospital may cost over $10,000, on average. You should pick a health insurance plan that fits you best, which overall is also affordable and covers your needs.

What is an IR 5 visa?

The IR5 parent visa allows U.S. citizens to bring foreign-born parents to the United States as permanent residents. However, this visa will have to be granted abroad and issued at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the foreign country where the parent resides

What is an IR 2 visa?

For example, in the immediate relative (IR) visa category, the IR-1 visa is for spouses, and the IR-2 visa is for unmarried children under 21 years of age. The IR-2 visa allows children of U.S. citizens who live outside the United States to enter and live in the United States.

What is the IR 6 visa category?

An IR6 green card is how people sometimes refer to it when your permanent residency is based on your spouse’s status as a citizen because you fall under the green card category IR6.

What is the difference between IR4 Visa and IR3 Visa?

The IR4 Visa allows parents to obtain guardianship of the child in the foreign country and then bring the child to the US to complete the adoption. While with the IR3 Visa, the parents from the US must complete the adoption process in the foreign country before the child can get the visa.


Now you know how to apply for IR4 Visa and its requirements, you can successfully apply. Also check for other types of US Visa like L1 Visa, F1 visa and E2 Visa etc in this website.

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