All About Visas
The Department of State Consular Officer who adjudicates your child’s immigrant visa application is required to conduct an investigation (called the “I-604 Orphan Investigation”) before an immigrant visa can be issued to your child. This investigation serves two purposes: (1) to verify the orphan status of the child, and (2) to ensure that the child does not suffer from a medical condition that you, the adoptive parents, do not already know about and are willing to accept. As a part of the immigrant visa application process and the I-604 Orphan Investigation, your child will be examined by a U.S.-approved foreign physician.
There are two immigrant visa categories for international adoptions. An IR-3 visa (the “IR” stands for “immediate relative”) is given to a child adopted overseas when the adoptive parent (if a single parent) or both parents (if a married couple) saw and observed the child prior to the adoption, and the adoption is completed in the foreign country. (The foreign adoption bestows upon both adoptive parents and child the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges as would an adoption in the United States.) Children who are issued IR-3 visas do not, under Federal laws, require adoption or re-adoption in the United States (although your state of residence may require a re-adoption procedure). IR-4 VISA
The other international adoption
visa category is the IR-4, which denotes a child coming to the United States for adoption. An IR-4 visa is issued to a child under the following circumstances:
The foreign country’s laws only permit the adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of the child, rather than to fully adopt the child in that country, and/or
The prospective adoptive parent(s) did not see and observe the child prior to the adoption process.
With the IR-4 visa, the foreign adoption does not meet the federal U.S. equivalent requirements of severing biological parent(s) ties and/or ensuring that both the adoptive parents and child have the same rights, responsibilities, and privileges. The adoption of children who have been issued IR-4 immigrant visas
must be completed in the United States. Your adoption agency will be able to tell you what kind of a visa your child will have.
Credits: Excerpted from "International Adoption Guidebook," Mary M. Strickert, © 2004