Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative

Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative

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Last updated: April 4, 2024.

What is Form I-600?

Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, is a U.S. immigration form used in the context of international adoption. 

The primary purpose of Form I-600 is to allow U.S. citizens and their spouses (if married) to petition for obtaining lawful immigration status in the U.S. for a child they adopted or plan to adopt from another country. 

The form is used to classify the child as an orphan under U.S. immigration law.

Adoptive parents must also submit Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with USCIS.

Form I-600A is filed to demonstrate that adoptive parents are suitable and eligible to adopt.

Who can file Form I-600?

To file Form I-600, the petitioner and the child must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Only U.S. citizens and their spouses (if married) can file Form I-600
  • The child’s adoption is not governed by the Hague Adoption Convention
  • The child meets the definition of “orphan”
  • Form I-600 is filed before the child’s 16th birthday (or before 18th birthday in some cases)
  • US citizen petitioner (and their spouse, if married) has adopted the child outside the U.S. obtained a final adoption order or has obtained legal custody of the child for adoption and immigration purposes and will adopt the child in the US after child enters the country on a visa

Hague Adoption Convention countries

The list of countries that are parties to the Hague Adoption Convention:

  • Albania
  • Andorra
  • Armenia
  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Azerbaijan
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Belize
  • Benin
  • Bolivia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Burkina Faso
  • Burundi
  • Cambodia
  • Canada
  • Cabo Verde
  • Chile
  • China (and Hong Kong)
  • Colombia
  • Côte d’Ivoire
  • Costa Rica
  • Croatia
  • Cuba
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Fiji
  • Eswatini
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • Germany
  • Ghana
  • Greece
  • Guatemala
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kenya
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Latvia
  • Lesotho
  • Liechtenstein
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Monaco
  • Mongolia
  • Montenegro
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Niger
  • Norway
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Romania
  • Rwanda
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis 
  • San Marino
  • Senegal
  • Serbia
  • Seychelles
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • Spain
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Thailand
  • Togo
  • Turkey
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia

The current list of Hague Convention countries is available on the U.S. Department of State website.

Definition of “orphan” for purposes of Form I-600

For U.S. immigration purposes, an orphan is defined as a child who meets one of the following criteria:

  • The child has no parents because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from, both parents, OR
  • The child has a sole or surviving parent who is unable to care for the child properly 

Who cannot file Form I-600?

Certain individuals may be ineligible to file Form I-600 for various reasons: 

  • If the child is already in the U.S. (unless a child is a parolee and has not been adopted in the U.S.)
  • At least one of the adoptive parent is not a U.S. citizen
  • The child does not meet the definition of “orphan”. In this case, the adoptive parent might be eligible to file Form I-130
  • If the child’s adoption is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. In this case, you can file Form I-800 and Form I-800A.

How to file Form I-600?

Filing Form I-600 involves the following steps:

Step 1. Complete Home Study:

Step 2. Obtain the Latest Form:

  • Download the most recent edition of Form I-600 from the USCIS website
  • Ensure that you are using the most recent edition, as using an outdated version may result in delays and rejections.

Step 3. Gather Supporting Documents:

  • Collect all the necessary supporting documents (see the checklist below). 
  • Unless directed otherwise, submit only photocopies of the documents.

Step 4. Complete the Form:

Step 5. Pay the Filing Fee:

  • Check the most current Form I-600 filing fee on the USCIS website
  • Some petitioners do not need to pay the filing fee if Form I-600A was approved or pending
  • USCIS may update fees periodically, so be sure to verify the filing fee amount on the USCIS website before submitting your application.
  • Acceptable forms of payment include: money order, personal check, cashier’s check or credit card payment (fill out Form G-1450)
  • If paying by check, the check must be payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Step 6. Submit the Application:

  • Mail the completed Form I-600 along with the required supporting documents and the filing fee to the correct filing address.
  • It’s recommended to mail the application via express mail with a tracking number
  • Make a copy of the completed application for your records

Step 7. USCIS Review:

  • If you submitted Form G-1145 with your application, 1 week after the submission you will receive a text message or email from USCIS with your Form I-600 receipt notice. Check your spam folder.
  • USCIS will mail the receipt notice 2-3 weeks after the submission date
  • You can track the status of your application online by entering the Form I-600 receipt number 
  • After USCIS receives your application, it will be reviewed to determine whether the U.S. USCIS may issue a Request for Evidence (RFE) during the review process.

Step 8. Notification of Decision:

  • USCIS will notify you of its decision on the Form I-600 petition by mail.

Form I-600 filing fee

The filing fee for Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, depends on whether you have filed Form I-600A and number of children being adopted:

I-600 Filing Category Filing Fee
General filing $920
If you are filing your first Form I-600 petition during your Form I-600A approval period $0
If you file more than one Form I-600 during your Form I-600A approval period for children who are not birth siblings before the proposed adoption $920 for the second and any subsequent non-birth siblings
If you are filing more than one Form I-600 during your Form I-600A approval period for children who are birth siblings before the proposed adoption $0
New Combination filing: If you previously filed a Form I-600 combination filing and your marital status changed after the suitability approval $920
New Combination filing: If your marital status changes while your previous Form I-600 combination filing petition is pending, you must submit a new Form I-600 combination filing $0

*If you are adopting multiple sibling groups, you will pay additional fees for the second or subsequent sibling group.

You can pay Form I-600 filing fees with a money order, personal check, cashier’s check or pay by credit card using Form G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions.

If you pay by check, it must be payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

USCIS filing fees are subject to change, check the most recent Form I-600 fees on the USCIS website.

Form I-600 checklist of required documents

The following documents must be submitted with Form I-600 application (submit photocopies only):

Evidence required Examples of acceptable documents
Completed and signed Form I-600
  • Download the most recent edition of Form I-600 on USCIS website
  • Answer all questions
  • Sign and date the form in ink
  • Unsigned, undated or outdated editions of Form I-600 will be rejected by USCIS

Note: you must also file Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with USCIS

Filing fee 
  • Check the most recent Form I-600 fees on the USCIS website
  • USCIS accepts the following payment methods:
    • Money order
    • Personal check
    • Cashier’s check, or
    • Credit card payment using Form G-1450
    • If you pay by check, it must be payable to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Proof of adoptive parent’s U.S. citizenship At least one of the following documents:

  • U.S. birth certificate (if adoptive parent was born in the U.S.);
  • Certificate of Naturalization;
  • Certificate of Citizenship;
  • Consular Report of Birth Abroad (only if the adoptive parent was born abroad to U.S. citizen parent(s)); or
  • Unexpired U.S. passport (biographic page)
Proof of adoptive parents’ marriage
  • Marriage certificate of the adoptive parents 
Proof of child’s age and identity
  • Child’s birth certificate
  • If birth certificate is unavailable:
    • Explanation why a birth certificate is not available and other proof of age and identity such as medical records, school records, religious records, entry in a family Bible, orphanage intake sheets, or sworn affidavits from individuals with first-hand knowledge of the child’s birth or other related events
    • DNA evidence
Death certificates of the child’s parents (only if applicable)
  • Death certificates
Proof of adoption or custody
  • Certified copy of adoption decree
  • Certified custody order
  • PAIR letter (if the child is being adopted in a country following the Pre-Adoption Immigration Review (PAIR) process)
Proof that child meets the definition of an “orphan” Evidence that demonstrates the following:

  • The child’s birth mother is a sole parent who is incapable of providing proper care for the child and has irrevocably released the child for adoption and emigration in writing. Note:  a birth father cannot be classified as a sole parent
  • One of the child’s parents is deceased and the surviving parent is incapable of providing proper care for the child and irrevocably released the child for adoption and emigration in writing.
  • The child has no legal parents due to the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from both parents
Proof of compliance with pre-adoption requirements (if applicable) If the child will be coming to the U.S. for adoption:

  • Documentation demonstrating that any pre-adoption requirements of the state where the child will live have been met or will be met (this can be submitted after Form I-600 is filed but before a final decision is made on Form I-600 petition)
Home Study (only if applicable) Note: You do not need to resubmit home study if it was previously submitted to USCIS with Form I-600A (pending or approved).

If you did not previously submit home study with Form I-600A or if you are requesting a suitability and eligibility determination:

  • Home study prepared by an authorized person/organization that is no more than 6 months old when it’s submitted to USCIS
Affidavit of Support
  • Form I-864 (if the child will not automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon being admitted into the U.S.) and supporting documents, OR
  • Form I-864W, Request for Exemption for Intending immigrant’s Affidavit of Support (if the child will automatically acquire U.S. citizenship upon being admitted into the U.S.)

Form I-600 processing time

It can take about 12.5 months for Form I-600 to be processed by USCIS.

To check the most current processing times for Form I-600:

  • Visit the USCIS website at https://egov.uscis.gov/processing-times
  • Select “Form I-600”
  • Choose the USCIS Service Center

Keep in mind that processing times are general estimates, and individual cases may take less or more time to complete.

Additionally, USCIS may issue Requests for Evidence (RFEs) during the processing of your application, which can add to the overall processing time. 

It’s crucial to respond promptly and thoroughly if you receive an RFE to avoid delays.

If your case is outside the normal processing time, you place an Outside Normal Processing Time e-Request or request assistance from your local congressman’s office.

Related Links:

Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition