How do I obtain a passport?
You will need to find a place near you where you can apply for a passport in person. To search for your nearest Passport Office Click Here.
To download the application for your passport, Click Here.
My spouse cannot travel with me to get our child. Does my state have preadoption requirements that we must meet?
Your homestudy agency should be able to answer any question about pre-adoption and post-adoption requirements. West Sands requires both parents travel to meet their child and finalize their adoption in country. If both parents have met the child prior to adoption finalization in the country of origin the adopted child comes home on an IR-3 Visa and is granted automatic citizenship. For families who do not comply with this requirement their child will be granted an IR-4 Visa. Families whose children come home on an IR-4 Visa will have to complete a costly and time consuming re-adoption in the US. Families whose children are granted an IR-3 visa and automatic citizenship will need to file a simple (and usually free) petition in their state to recognize their foreign adoption. Some states do require full re-adoption regardless but usually those states’ processes have been simplified. See more information on automatic citizenship and visa types for adoptive children below.
Where can I find information on the Adoption Tax Credit?
Contact your local CPA or visit IRS.gov for current information regarding the Adoption Tax Credit.
How do I download forms from USCIS?
USCIS forms can be downloaded or printed from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s site, by Clicking Here.
How long are my fingerprints for USCIS good for? Who must be fingerprinted for the I-600A and is there anything else I need to know about getting fingerprinted?
The fingerprints taken by the USCIS are good for 15 months from the date they were taken. All I-600A applications include a one time free extension of both the form and fingerprints additional fingerprint extensions are $85 per adult household member. Contact your case worker or call USCIS’ National Benefits Center (NBC) Adoption Help Line at 877-424-8374.
How do I get information about my pending USCIS I-600A/I-800A application?
USCIS processing has been streamlined so that all I-600A and I-800A applications are sent to a central office in Missouri. About 2 weeks after you send in your I-600a or I-800a application, you will receive a receipt notice from the National Benefits Center (NBC) of USCIS. Within about 2 weeks after that, you will receive information about getting fingerprints taken at your local USCIS office. The NBC has a goal of completing the work on your application and issuing approval within 30-45 days from the time they receive it. This is usually what happens, as long as you include your check and all of the required supporting documentation. If there is a problem with your application, or if something is missing, you will receive a “Request for Evidence” (RFE). This pink letter comes to you in the mail and tells you what was missing. It also gives you a deadline for sending in the missing information. RFE’s usually work out ok, but they can be time consuming, costly and stressful for you. Please pay careful attention to all instructions for sending in I-600A or I-800A applications in order to avoid any problems.
You can also call the NBC directly at 877-424-8374. If you are adopting from a Hague country and using an I-800A application, ask for the Hague unit. If you are adopting from a non-Hague country and using an I-600A application, ask for the Adoption unit. If you call during business hours, you should be able to talk to a live person. If your case is in process, they may have to track down the officer who is working on your case, and that may take a little time, but generally, the officers are friendly and helpful to work with, and can provide you with the information you need.
We are living in another country at this time, but we are U.S. citizens; how can we get fingerprints and submit the I-600A?
For USCIS instructions about how to complete your fingerprints while living abroad, Click Here.
What is the difference between an IR-3 and an IR-4 visa?
An IR-3 visa is given to a child adopted overseas when both parents saw and observed the child prior to the adoption, and the adoption is completed in the foreign country (single parents–your children will also have an IR-3 visa in this case). Children who are issued IR-3 visas do not, under federal laws, require readoption in the U.S. (although your state of residence may require a readoption procedure).
An IR-4 visa applies when the foreign country’s laws only permit the adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of the child, rather than to fully adopt the child in the country and/or the prospective adoptive parent(s) did not see and observe the child prior to the adoption process. The adoption of children who have been issued an IR-4 visa must be completed in the United States. Your agency will be able to tell you what kind of visa your child will have.
How do I get my child’s social security card?
Whether your child comes on an IR-3 or IR-4 visa, you can obtain a social security card. However, if your child is on an IR-4 visa, then the social security number will be issued as a permanent resident. Later, you can go back to your social security office and get your child’s status changed. The social security number will not change, but the number would now show your child to be a citizen.
For the Social Security Administration explanation, Click Here.
How do I get US Citizenship for my adopted child? Does my state require readoption? How do I go about it?
According to US law, if both parents saw the child before the adoption was finalized, and if your adoption was finalized in the child’s country of origin before you enter the US, then your child automatically becomes a citizen when you enter the US. A certificate of citizenship should arrive automatically within 90 days of bringing your child home. All Hague country adoptions allow for IH-3 visas, which means that your child should be eligible for automatic US Citizenship upon entry into the US, regardless whether both parents traveled to meet the child before the adoption was finalized. US Immigration officials will look at your documents when you bring your child into the US, and will keep some of your documents. Within about 45-90 days, you should get the child’s Citizenship Certificate in the mail. If you adopted in a non-Hague country and one or both parents were unable to see the child in person before the adoption was finalized, then your child will be adopted on an IR-4 visa, and you will have to re-adopt in the US then apply for US Citizenship for the child after the child comes to the US.
So what is re-adoption? Some states require re-adoption even if your child entered the US on an IR-3 visa. Find out from your local agency or home study provider if your state will require re-adoption before your adoption is complete. If the state does require re-adoption, there might also be pre-adoption requirements, meaning documents that must be included in your file and possibly for USCIS. Re-adoption means hiring an attorney and having your adoption re-finalized in a US court. There may be some benefits to having your adoption re-finalized even if it isn’t required and all families should contact their local courts to find out how to get State recognition of their foreign adoption. Your child’s birth certificate will be issued by the country of origin and in order to get a US issued birth certificate you must have your adoption recognized by your state or re-adopt. When children register for school or apply for clubs or other organizations, they may be required to show a birth certificate and having a foreign issued birth certificate can cause unnecessary confusion. It is almost always easier to work with a US birth certificate than a birth certificate from another country. Finalizing your adoption in a US court will usually allow you to receive a US birth certificate for your child. Some states will issue something like a “Certificate of Foreign Born,” which looks like a birth certificate and can be used exactly like a birth certificate, but makes a distinction between a child who was born in the US and a child who was born outside of the US. Call your State vital records office to ask what type of birth certificate they can issue for your adopted child, and what you have to do to get that birth certificate. If you are required to readopt, or if you choose to readopt, you will also have to meet your state’s requirements for post-placement reporting. Usually this means additional visits with your social worker, beyond what would be required for sending reports to your child’s country of origin. However, these visits can be beneficial both for you and the child. Ask your home study provider about post-placement requirements if you are planning to readopt.
At your request, West Sands Adoptions will gladly make available the following information: (a) the number of our adoption placements per year for the prior three calendar years, and the number and percentage of those placements that remain intact, are disrupted, or have been dissolved as of the time the information is provided; and (b) the number of parents who apply to adopt on a yearly basis, based on the last three calendar years. West Sands Adoptions places “Waiting Children” through China’s program of adoption for special needs and waiting children. However, we do not have our own list of waiting children at this time. Parents who apply for adoption through programs with West Sands Adoptions will not be referred a child for placement until a child becomes available through the appropriate Central Authority in the child’s country of origin.