FAQ

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.

For Frequently asked Questions about obtaining a passport, Click Here.

How do I obtain a passport for my adopted child?

For information on obtaining a passport for a child under 14, including your adopted child, Click Here.

I just received my referral and did not receive my “brown envelope” from the American Consulate? What do I do?

Don’t worry! This happens sometimes. Just call our office. We can call the Consulate to verify they know you are coming and we will send copies of the paperwork you would have gotten in that envelope. You can visit the website for the American Consulate in China at http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/.

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 the question about preadoption requirements. You can also check this link which is provided by the American Consulate in China, however, please verify this information with your homestudy agency: [link no longer active]. Information may have changed since this was created.

Where can I find information on the Adoption Tax Credit?

You can go to this link for information for taking the tax credit for 2004: www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc607.html. This page includes links for downloading publications and forms for the 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. For USCIS instructions for fingerprint, Click Here.

How do I get information from USCIS? Can I call their office?

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 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.

We will do our best to help you with the USCIS process. Please also give USCIS permission to talk to us about your case. You can do this by filling out the I-800a supplement 2 if you are applying to adopt in a Hague country or by sending a letter granting permission to talk to us if you are adopting from a non-Hague country.

You can also call the NBC directly. The phone number is 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. 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 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 apply for US Citizenship for the child after the child comes to the US.

So what is re-adoption? Some states require re-adoption if your child entered the US on an IR-4 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. Some parents will choose to do this so that they can get a birth certificate for the child in the home state. When children register for school or apply for clubs or other organizations, they may be required to show a birth certificate. It may be 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 allow a child who was born abroad to have a regular birth certificate. 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.

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