If a family member, such as your spouse, parents, or children, is a US citizen, you can also come to the US on Immediate Relative (IR) visas and live and work there permanently. IR visas are divided into five categories.
If you live in the US and want to get a guardship of a child from a foreign country, you must obtain an IR4 visa. In this case, you must first choose your child from another country. Then come to the United States with your child and complete the adoption and visa process in this country.
In the following, we intend to answer these questions: What are the requirements for an IR4 visa? From which countries can you adopt a child? How to apply for this visa? How much should you pay in the application process?

What is an IR4 visa?

US citizens can obtain foreign children’s guardianship and bring them to the United States to live together as a family. To be able to do it, they have three options: IR2, IR3, or IR4 visa. IR3 visa applicants must first complete the adoption process in the child’s country, then do the rest of the application process in the US and bring the child to this country. But in the case of an IR4 visa, US citizens can complete the adoption process in the United States. An IR2 visa is issued if US citizens adopted a child from another country, then live in that country with their child for two years, and finally, come to the United States together.

The requirements, application process, and other details of the IR3 visa are described elsewhere.
Children who come to the United States on an IR4 visa have many benefits. For example, they can go to school and work without an Employment Authorization Document when they are able to work. They can also apply for citizenship if they are eligible.

If you want to know more about visas for children and parents, read out articles about F2A and F2B visas.

What are the requirements for a US IR4 visa?

US citizens have to go through different stages depending on the country where they are adopting a child. Countries where they can choose their child are:

  • Countries parties to the Hague Adoption Convention
  • Non-Hague country adoptions

The Hague Convention was concluded in 1993 and determined rules and regulations on intercountry adoption. As mentioned, the visa application process will vary depending on whether or not the countries are party to the convention.

The member countries of the Hague Adoption Convention are:

BulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCanadaChile
ChinaColombiaCosta RicaCroatiaCuba
CyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDominican RepublicEcuador
El SalvadorEstoniaFinlandFranceGeorgia
LithuaniaLuxembourgNorth MacedoniaMadagascarMali
MongoliaNetherlandsNew ZealandNorwayPanama
RomaniaSan MarinoSerbiaSeychellesSlovakia
SloveniaSouth AfricaSpainSri LankaSweden
SwitzerlandThailandTogoTurkeyUnited Kingdom

The countries listed below are also members of the convention, but for political reasons, US citizens are not allowed to adopt children from these countries.

BoliviaCambodiaCape VerdeCote d’IvoireFiji

In the case of countries that are not on the list of  Hague Convention countries, the guardianship process is different, which we will explain below.

In addition to country restrictions, a US citizen and child to be adopted must also consider the following requirements:

Child requirements

  • The child must be unmarried and under 21 years old
  • The child must be under the US Immigration and Nationality Act.

US Citizen Requirements

  • US citizens must pass an eligibility test conducted by the USCIS.
  • They must live in the United States with their child after guardianship.
  • US citizens must provide a valid US address.


How to move to America as a taxi or truck driver? Just read our article.


What is the application process for the IR4 visa?

As mentioned, there are two ways to apply for this visa, depending on the country where the adoption process is done.

The application process for the member countries of the Hague Adaptation Convention

1. You must first file Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS. If this petition is approved, you will be eligible for the adaptation process. This organization will assess your form and do a background check, fingerprint check, and a home study. Based on the results, they will then advise you on the age range and the number of children you can adopt. They will also explain to you whether or not you are allowed to adopt a child with special needs.

2. Based on the information you obtained in the previous step, you can select a child that matches your situation from the countries of the Hague Convention. To do this, first, your intended country checks your documents and USCIS approvals, then offer you children who meet your situation. Each child’s file contains information such as the child’s background, medical considerations, and special needs. In addition, there must be a consent form from the child’s parents stating that they are unable to care for their child for some reason. They are also prepared to give the guardship of their child to someone else.

3. At this step, you must first submit Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, to the USCIS to evaluate your child’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States. You, as a US citizen, will also need to show that you have not yet done the adoption process. Otherwise, you can not bring the child to this country.

4. Once you have selected your child, you can start the visa application process. To do this, you must first submit the DS-260 Online Immigrant Visa Application to the embassy and consulate of the child’s country. This form contains questions about the child. After submitting online, a confirmation page will appear, which you must save.

5. If the mentioned steps are done correctly, the consulate or embassy will issue an Article 5/17 Letter to you. This letter indicates that your child qualifies for immigration to the United States. Note that after receiving this letter, you can obtain the child guardianship order.

6. When you get the guardianship order, you must submit documents such as the child’s birth certificate, passport, and medical records to the embassy. Then you must schedule an appointment at the embassy and attend it. After the interview, the consular officer decides whether to issue a visa to your child.

The application process for Non-Hague Convention Countries

1. First, you have to choose the adoption provider center in the country you want to adopt the child. Since the countries are not a party to the Hague Convention, you can not get a recommendation on US-approved centers. So it’s up to you to decide.

2. You must then file Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition to the USCIS. In addition to this form, the organization conducts other checks, such as fingerprint checks, to assess your eligibility for the child’s guardship. In this case, the USCIS can not advise you on the classification of the child.

3. If you can meet the specific requirements of the country you intend to adopt the child from and send supporting documents to them, you will receive a guardianship order.

4. You must then submit the I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative to the USCIS to assess the child’s eligibility to immigrate to the United States. Besides you must submit the following documents:

  • Child’s birth certificate or any document that shows his/her identity and age
  • Evidence that the child’s parents are not competent to care for him/her and that they have agreed to give guardianship of their child to someone else.
  • You must show that you have received the guardship order and complete the rest of the adoption process once you arrive in the United States.

5. USCIS or the Consular Officer will then complete Form I-604. If the form is approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will notify you of the rest of the visa application process.

6. Finally, you must complete Form DS-260, schedule an interview, and attend it.

How much does it cost to apply for a US IR4 visa?

It is not possible to estimate the exact amount you have to pay accurately because you need to pay a fee due to the various services provided. Besides, USCIS determines the amount of this fee.
In general, you must pay a fee for each of the following:

  • Filing Form I-800A and Form I-800
  • Form DS-260 processing
  • Filing Form I-600A and Form I-600
  • Translation of documents into English
  • getting supporting documents

How long does it take to evaluate the submitted documents and issue a visa?

US IR4 visa processing time is not very long because, generally, the annual issuance of IR visas does not have an annual cap. This means that you can get a visa if you are eligible.
It is generally estimated that it will take six months to one year to issue an IR4 visa from when you are allowed to adopt your child.

The same time is required for an IR3 visa.

Let’s sum up…

In the previous paragraphs, we have tried to answer the questions that US citizens may face in the process of adopting a foreign child within the US. On the Visa Library website, you can find complete information about other US visas as well as how to immigrate to other countries. If you have experience in the visa application process, write it in the comments section to help other readers make better decisions.
We will be happy to receive your invaluable comments and suggestions, and we will respond as soon as possible.


Who is IR4 Visa for?

It is for US citizens to adopt and bring foreign children to the country. 

Can I complete the application process in the US?

Yes, only an IR4 visa permits you to proceed with the process in the US. 

Do I have to get permission for the child to study and work?

No, there is no need for Employment Authorization Document

What is the difference between IR4 and IR3, and IR2?

The difference in the conditions and application inside or outside the US; see the article. 

Is it different where I adopt the child?

Yes, the process is different is the child is from Hague Adoption Convention or not.

How useful was this article?

Click on a star to rate it!

Average rating 5 / 5. Vote count: 1

No votes so far! Be the first to rate this article.


  1. Chad says:

    I want to adopt a foreign child but can not visit her country. What visa do I have to apply through?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.