Orphan Petitions (Forms I-600A and I-600)
Adopting a foreign-born child involves two different determinations: First, the prospective adoptive parents must be found eligible (physically, mentally, emotionally, materially, etc.) to adopt a foreign-born child. Second, the child identified must be found to be an orphan who is eligible for adoption. These determinations are made separately when the prospective adoptive parents file Form I-600A and Form I-600, respectively. This method, known as “advance processing,” is advantageous in many ways, but is not mandatory.
Prospective adoptive parents may also file the Form I-600 without first filing Form I-600A, submitting all the documentation necessary at the same time to establish both requirements described above. Under this method, however, the Form I-600 may only be filed at an overseas office if the prospective adoptive parent resides in the jurisdiction of that overseas office.
Whether using the advance processing method or the one-step method, a prospective adoptive parent must be a U.S. citizen and may be either married or unmarried. It is not necessary that the married prospective adoptive parent’s spouse be a U.S. citizen, but if the spouse is residing in the U.S., he/she must be maintaining a lawful immigration status. Unmarried individuals must be at least twenty-four years of age at the time of filing Form I-600A and at least twenty-five when filing Form I-600.
I-600A Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition
Prospective adoptive parents usually file the Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of Orphan Petition, before they identify the child they wish to adopt. The Form I-600A only addresses the parents’ eligibility to adopt a foreign-born child; unlike the Form I-600, it does not deal with the child’s qualification as an orphan. Advance processing may also be done when the prospective adoptive parents have already identified a child to adopt.
Individuals who reside in the United States should file the Form I-600A in the United States. Click here for filing instructions. Prospective adoptive parents who reside outside the United States may file the Form I-600A at the overseas USCIS office having jurisdiction over their place of residence abroad or at the stateside USCIS office having jurisdiction over their proposed place of residence in the United States. Prospective adoptive parents who reside in countries of the Former Soviet Union – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan – may submit their Form I-600A to the USCIS Moscow Field Office. Please note carefully that although Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Moldova are within the jurisdiction of the USCIS Moscow Field Office, they have ratified the Hague Adoption Convention, which requires prospective adoptive parents who intent to adopt a child from one of these countries to file Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, and Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. U.S. citizens filing these forms must file in the United States. For more information on this process, please click here.
I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative
Prospective adoptive parents who have already received an I-600A approval and have located an orphan they wish to adopt in Russia may file the Form I-600 at the USCIS Moscow Field Office. Prospective adoptive parents who reside in Russia and choose not to follow the advance process may also file the Form I-600 petition in Moscow. The USCIS Moscow Field Office processes each Form I-600 as expeditiously as possible, but prospective adoptive parents travelling from the United States or elsewhere are encouraged to work some flexibility into their travel arrangements, just in case an issue arises that takes additional time to resolve.
The Form I-600 may be submitted by an adoption agency representative as long as at least one U.S. citizen petitioner is physically present in Russia. Under the Privacy Act, USCIS employees may not discuss specific details of individual cases with adoption agencies unless the family has provided us with its consent to do so. There is no specific form, but the statement from the family must be signed and in writing. Sample language that may be used in the consent to disclose is included in our Questions and Answers page. The release statement can be sent to the USCIS Moscow Field Office via scanned e-mail (Moscow.Adoptions@dhs.gov), fax (011-7-495-728-5083), or it may be submitted in person by the adoption agency or the prospective adoptive parent.
Before travelling to Moscow, prospective adoptive parents should ensure that:
- Fingerprint clearances for all required household members remain valid until USCIS issues a decision on the Form I-600.
- The Form I-600A approval remains valid until the Form I-600 is filed in Moscow.
- If the petitioning parents have experienced any significant household changes since they submitted their home study with the Form I-600A, or if the orphan they wish to adopt does not match the description in the home study recommendation, they have provided an amended home study to the USCIS office that originally approved the Form I-600A, and they have obtained an amended Form I-600A approval notice from that office.
Important: Only the USCIS office that initially approved the Form I-600A can issue an amended approval notice. USCIS Moscow may not accept amended home studies without a corresponding Form I-600A approval, unless the USCIS Moscow Field Office is the original approving office.
Appointments to file Form I-600 should be scheduled through USCIS INFOPASS.
Please see Frequently Asked Questions about adoptions from the Russian Federation.
Forms may be downloaded from these links: