IR3 Visa

 Obtaining  an IR-3 Visa for Adopted Children in the US

In the realm of US immigration, Immediate Relative Visas (IR visas) cater to close family members of US citizens living abroad. Among these visas is the IR-3 visa, specifically tailored for adopted children entering the US. Let’s explore the definition, eligibility, application process, and other pertinent details of the IR-3 visa.


The IR-3 visa facilitates the immigration of adopted children from foreign countries to join their adoptive parents in the US. This visa allows them to reside, study, work, and eventually pursue US citizenship.

An IR-3 visa is issued to internationally adopted children who have been legally adopted abroad by U.S. citizens and are seeking entry into the United States. This visa category requires that the child be under 21 years old and that the U.S. citizen parent has completed the adoption proceedings according to the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

To be eligible for an IR-3 visa, the child must be from either a Hague Convention Country or a Non-Hague Convention Country. The adoption process differs slightly between these two groups due to the Hague Adoption Convention, which sets standards for international adoptions.

If the child enters the United States with an IR-3 visa and meets certain conditions, such as living with the U.S. citizen parent until reaching 18 years old, the child will automatically become a U.S. citizen. After acquiring U.S. citizenship, the child will receive a Certificate of Citizenship.

For children who are adopted by U.S. citizens and brought to the United States to be adopted, an IR-4 visa would be appropriate. However, unlike IR-3 visa holders, IR-4 visa holders do not automatically gain U.S. citizenship upon entering the United States but instead become lawful permanent residents.

Types of Adoption Eligible for the IR-3 Visa

There are two types of adoptions recognized by the US government, depending on the country from which the child is adopted:

Hague Country Convention Adoptions

The Hague Adoption Convention, signed in 1993, established rules and regulations governing intercountry adoptions. If a US citizen adopts a child from a Hague Convention Country, specific application procedures apply.

Non-Hague Country Adoptions

Adoptions from countries not part of The Hague Adoption Convention follow different regulations and application procedures.

Here is a list of The Hague Convention Countries, though note that US citizens are not allowed to adopt children from the countries in bold due to other political reasons:

  • Albania
  • Ivory Coast
  • 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
  • Czechia
  • Israel
  • Namibia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Belarus
  • Denmark
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Eswatini
  • 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
  • Cabo Verde
  • Ghana
  • Madagascar
  • Rwanda
  • Zambia
  • Chile
  • Greece
  • Mali
  • San Marino
  • China
  • Guatemala
  • Malta
  • Senegal
  • Colombia
  • Guinea
  • Mauritius
  • Serbia

Adoptions from any other countries not listed above fall under Non-Hague Country adoptions, requiring adherence to different regulations and application procedures.

Requirements for the IR-3 Visa

Both the child being adopted and the US citizen must meet specific requirements for the child to be eligible for the IR-3 visa:

Child’s Requirements:

  1. The child must be eligible based on the US Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
  2. The child must be under 21 years old.
  3. The child must be from either a Hague or Non-Hague Convention Country.

US Citizen’s Requirements:

  1. The US citizen parent must be willing to adopt the child.
  2. The US citizen parent must pass an eligibility test conducted by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  3. The US citizen parent must plan to bring the child to reside with them in the US.
  4. The US citizen parent must have a valid US address.

If the US citizen has already adopted the child and resided with them in a foreign country for at least two years, the child becomes eligible for an IR-2 visa and does not need to go through the IR-3 visa application process.

Application Process

The application process for the IR-3 visa varies depending on the adoption’s type and country of origin. Here’s an overview:

For Hague Convention Adoptions:

  • Choose an Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider.
  • Obtain approval for Adoption Eligibility from USCIS.
  • Apply for adoption in the Hague Convention Country.
  • Ensure the child’s eligibility for immigration by submitting Form I-800 to USCIS.
  • Complete Form DS-260 and attend the visa interview at the US Embassy.

For Non-Hague Convention Adoptions:

  • Choose a preferred adoption center in the child’s country.
  • File Form I-600A with USCIS to determine eligibility.
  • Obtain an adoption or guardianship order.
  • Submit Form I-600 to establish the child’s eligibility for immigration.
  • Complete Form DS-260 and attend the visa interview at the US Embassy.

Fees and Processing Time

Fees associated with the IR-3 visa vary based on the application procedure chosen. Processing time typically ranges from six months to over a year.

How long does it take to get an IR-3 Visa

The processing time for an IR-3 visa typically ranges between 6 months to 1 year from the application submission until the child is ready to travel to the United States. However, individual situations and the specific processes involved in each case may cause variations in the exact timeline. Factors such as the country of adoption, the completeness of documentation, and the efficiency of the U.S. embassies or consulates can influence the overall duration of the process.

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Access to Healthcare

While IR-3 visa holders have access to US healthcare, it’s crucial to note the potential high costs. Selecting an appropriate health insurance plan is essential for financial security.

What is the difference between IR-3 and Hague Adoption

The main difference between an IR-3 visa and a Hague adoption lies in the adoption process and the requirements for each. Here are the key distinctions:

IR-3 Visa:

Definition: An IR-3 visa is issued to internationally adopted children by U.S. citizens who have completed the adoption process abroad.
Eligibility: The child must be under 21 years old, from a Hague or Non-Hague Convention Country, and the U.S. citizen parent must plan to bring the child to reside in the U.S.
Citizenship: Children with IR-3 visas automatically become U.S. citizens upon entry if certain conditions are met.
Application: Involves submitting supporting documents, attending an interview at the U.S. Embassy, and obtaining an adoption or guardianship order.

Hague Adoption:

Definition: The Hague Adoption Convention sets rules for international adoptions to ensure they are in the best interests of the child.
Eligibility: Adoptions from countries that are part of the Hague Convention follow specific procedures and requirements outlined by the convention.
Process: Hague adoptions have standardized procedures for intercountry adoptions, including home studies, background checks, and adherence to Hague regulations.
Visas: Children adopted through Hague procedures may enter the U.S. with IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visas based on where the adoption was finalized.

In summary, while an IR-3 visa is specifically for children adopted abroad by U.S. citizens, a Hague adoption refers to adoptions from countries that follow the guidelines of the Hague Adoption Convention, which sets international standards for intercountry adoptions.

Securing an IR-3 visa for adopted children involves a meticulous process but ultimately fosters family reunification and provides a promising future in the US. Adhering to specific application procedures and meeting eligibility criteria are paramount for a successful visa application, ensuring a smooth transition for the adopted child into their new life with their adoptive parents in the United States.