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Passports for Children Adopted Overseas

Adopting a child is an incredibly stressful process, especially if you choose to adopt from another country.  Though the reward of giving a child a family is immeasurable, international adoption often requires an intense commitment in the form of time, energy and money.  You’ll also need to pay extra-special attention to your new child’s citizenship status and the associated paperwork. When it comes time to get your child a US passport, additional documentation is often required. Here’s what you need to avoid delays and added frustration when getting a passport for a child adopted overseas:


To qualify for a US passport, the child must be a US citizen. Fortunately, since 2001, children adopted overseas by US citizen parents automatically become citizens, saving adoptive parents time and energy. However, there may still be a few loose ends for you to tie up. If your child’s adoption was finalized in their home country, and you brought them to the US on an IH-3 visa, your child will automatically become a US citizen when you enter the United States, and you will be automatically sent Certificate of Citizenship. This is proof that your child is a US citizen and can be used when applying for their passport.

One the other hand,  if the child came in on an IH-4 visa and the adoption needs to be finalized in the United States, your child will only automatically be issued a green card when you arrive in the US.  After the adoption has been finalized, your child will automatically become a US citizen, but if you want a certificate of citizenship you will have to apply for one (this is handy but is not required).

Documents Needed

Before you apply, gather all of the necessary documents:

  • Proof of identity for both adoptive parents, such as a driver’s license or other state-issued photo ID.
  • Proof of your relationship to the child- in this case, the adoption decree.
  • Proof of the child’s citizenship. If you have a certificate of citizenship for your child, that will do.  Otherwise, you’ll need to show the paper trail by which your child became a citizen, including: a certified copy of the final adoption decree (translated if the original isn’t in English); the child’s passport from their country of origin, showing  the Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS) I-551 stamp in the passport; proof of your identity as per above and proof of your US citizenship.
  • Parental consent: If the child was adopted by two US citizen parents, both parents have to consent for the passport to be issued. To prove parental consent, either both parents must appear in person or one parent must appear with a signed, notarized consent form signed by the other parent (passport forms available here).
  • One passport photo.
  • The applicable passport fees. (more…)

How To Get an Expedited Passport for your Adopted Child

Adopting a child is a beautiful thing. Unfortunately, it can be a rather bureaucratic process even under the best of circumstances.  Compared to biological parents, adoptive parents often  have to deal with an extra layer of red tape,  especially if they adopted their child from overseas. If you need an expedited passport for your internationally adopted child, here’s what you need to know before you apply.

Make Sure Your Child is a Citizen

In order to get a US passport, your adopted child must have US citizenship. Per the The Child Citizenship Act of 2000, most children adopted by parents who are American citizens gain citizenship automatically once the adoption is “full and final.”

Usually, if your child came to the US on a IR-3 visa, that means that the adoption process was completed in the foreign country and the adoption is considered “full and final.” If your child came in on an IR-4 visa, you will need to have the adoption finalized in the US before you can apply for a passport.

Gather All Relevant Documents

To get an expedited passport for your internationally adopted child, you will need the following documents:

  • The adoption decree
  • Both adoptive parents’ US birth certificates OR the child’s Certificate of Citizenship.
  • 2 passport photos.
  • For children under the age of 16, both parents must appear with their child, bring proof of identification, and provide consent for the child to be issued a passport.
  • If both parents are unable to appear at the acceptance agency to give consent, read this post on getting a child passport to learn about other options for meeting the parental consent requirements.
  • Minors age 16 and 17 only need one parent to appear with them when they apply for an expedited passport. (more…)