International Adoption

Whether you are just starting the international adoption process with an agency, if you have received a worrisome notice from the U.S. government regarding your pending adoption, or if you have your child home and just want to make sure you have done everything you must to secure his citizenship, we can help. With more than twenty years of combined experience in international adoption, our staff has the expertise to start your international adoption right, get it back on track, or wrap it up neatly.

International Adoption

U.S. citizens who reside in the United States must use an agency or individual accredited by Intercountry Adoption Accreditation and Approval, Inc. (IAAME) or Council on Accreditation (COA) to adopt a non-U.S. citizen child who lives in a foreign country. Only an accredited agency may provide adoption services (or supervise another in providing those services) in every international adoption, even if the child is your relative. You can find a list of accredited agencies here.

Our firm can support your agency-supervised international adoption by assisting with the immigration filings for the child and consulting with the agency on the process or in country-specific matters in which we are experienced. Particularly in relative adoptions and adoptions from countries where adoption is not common, immigration filing can be complex. We have many years of experience in writing briefs and gathering evidence to support immigration petitions for complicated cases. Our staff members have assisted with successful adoptions to or from Bahamas, Canada, China, Guyana, Haiti, India, Italy, Jamaica, Liberia, Mexico, Monaco, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Tobago, Trinidad, Uganda, Ukraine, Venezuela, and other countries.

Florida Adoption of Children Entering on Guardianship

If your child entered the U.S. under a guardianship order or an adoption license, you must take the additional step to finalize your adoption in state court before your child will become a citizen. And, in order for your child to receive automatic citizenship through the finalization process, you must finalize your adoption before she turns eighteen. Otherwise she will have to go through the entire naturalization process, increasing your costs and the length of time before your child can become a full U.S. citizen. We can help you finalize your adoption in Florida.

Florida Recognition of Foreign Adoption

In other situations, you may have adopted your child in a foreign country and now seek a Florida Recognition of Foreign Adoption. Through a relatively straightforward court process, you can request a Florida court to recognize your child’s foreign adoption. Doing so will allow your child to receive a Certificate of Foreign Birth, which looks nearly identical to a Florida birth certificate. A Certificate of Foreign Birth may greatly simplify administrative processes such as school enrollment, obtaining a driver’s license, etc. Completing this process will allow you to change your child’s name at the same time. A Certificate of Foreign birth will be far simpler to read than a birth record written in a different language from a foreign country.

Adoption of a Non-U.S. Citizen Child Currently in the United States

Can I bring my nephew here on a visitor’s visa or student visa and adopt him in the United States?


Probably not. Intentionally deceiving the Department of State regarding your intentions when your nephew applied for his visa will invalidate a bona fide adoption.

In certain situations, it is possible for a U.S. citizen to adopt a non-citizen child who is present in the United States in state court. The adoptive family must consider a number of pivotal factors before attempting such an adoption, including the child’s country of citizenship, the original purpose of the child’s entry into the United States, and the reasons why the child needs to be adopted without returning to his home country.

Under certain very specific circumstances, a domestic adoption may be a pathway toward citizenship for a child who entered the United States on a visitor’s visa, a student visa, or a medical visa and cannot or should not return home. Generally, if other conditions are met, the child may be eligible for citizenship. Unfortunately, if such an adoption is attempted without a full understanding of the immigration implications, it can result in a bar to future citizenship.

For families residing in Florida, we can assist with a domestic adoption and later, with a filing with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to pursue citizenship. For families residing in other states, we can work with your local attorney to be certain that your domestic adoption will further your goal of eventual citizenship for your child.

We offer an extended consultation service so that we can evaluate the particulars of your case and make recommendations based on current law and policy.

Reponses to RFEs, NOIDs, and Denials

If you have received a Request for Evidence (RFE), a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or Notice of Intent to Revoke (NOIR), or a Denial from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after filing a petition for an adopted child, we may be able to help. Our staff has extensive experience with analyzing and petitioning for immigration benefits stemming from complex international adoptions.

We will evaluate the facts of your case and your supporting documentation, and give you a candid assessment of the likelihood of successfully responding to a request or contesting USCIS’s decision. In some situations, we will advise clients to accept a denial and re-file with new or additional evidence, supported by a legal letter brief. In others, a well-planned response or an I-290B USCIS Motion to Re-open Decision to Deny filing is called for. We will assist you with gathering evidence to support your case and presenting it in the way most likely to secure an immigration visa for your child.

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