Passports for Children Adopted Overseas

Each year thousands of children around the world go through adoption with US families. Adoption is a beautiful way for families to grow, but each of these families will also face legal stumbling blocks. One of the prominent difficulties that these families must overcome is the question of visas, citizenship, and passports for children. Since the children were not born in the US, there are lists of criteria that each must follow to complete the adoption process. Also, this process will lead the child to become a US citizen soon after. Here are the basics of what each family should be aware of when it comes to applying for passports for internationally adopted children.

Obtaining citizenship

To obtain a passport, there must be proof of citizenship for the adopting child. For children adopted from countries that participate in the Hague Convention, citizenship tends to be straightforward. Children can come into the country under either an IH-3 or IH-4 visa. An IH-3 visa is for children who are adopted in their native country, and they will automatically receive a Certificate of Citizenship once they arrive in the US. An IH-4 visa is for children who will be adopted in the US. The visa grants them lawful status until the adoption is finalized, at which time they will receive their citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.

For children in non Hague Convention countries, there are significantly more forms and the child must be considered an official ‘orphan’ to be eligible. Once this is successful, they can obtain the same visas.

Application Process

After the adopted child has received the documentation of their citizenship, the process of obtaining a passport is the same as any other American child, regardless of where they were born. The child and both parents or legal guardians must be present with the application to begin the process. As a note, new legislation does not allow minors under the age of 16 to renew their passport by mail. To renew your passport, you must do it in person. The parents must be able to document:

  • Child’s citizenship (for international adoption, this is typically the Certificate of Citizenship)
  • Parent or guardian’s proof of relationship to the child (such as an adoption certificate)
  • Photo Identification of Parents
  • Passport Photo Parental consent if only one parent is applying

They must also fill out form DS-11. You must submit the entire application to a passport office agent. Which are often in a post office.

Obtaining a passport for an international adoption can come with complication, but it does not have to be. After getting citizenship, the process mirrors that of any other parent. Working with a passport office or expediting agency can help the process go as smoothly as possible.