The Kennedy Immigration Firm is one of the few Immigration Firms in the country that specializes in children’s immigration.


The Orphan visa process

Adopting parents file the I-600 petition to determine if a specific child meets the US “orphan” classification in the INA. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the I-600 may be filed with the USCIS office having jurisdiction over the parents’ place of residence, or with a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or Consular Officer overseas:

Steps of the Process

1          Obtain an home study from an Accredited Adoption Agency.

2          File Form I-600A

3          Locate and identify an orphan who is available for adoption.

4          Obtain legal custody.

5          Gather additional evidence of orphan status.

6          Submit Form I-600

7          Bring your child home to the United States.

Notice of Intent to Deny

Obtaining a Notice of Intent to Deny your I-600 Orphan Petition can be a heartbreaking event. Attorney Kennedy has assisted families who have obtained a Notice of Intent to Deny bring their children to the United States.  To learn more about our strategies for responding to a Notice of Intent to Deny, click here.

 Hague Adoptions

The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention) is an international treaty that provides important safeguards to protect the best interests of children, birth parents, and adoptive parents who are involved in intercountry adoptions.

The Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in the United States on April 1, 2008. All cases filed on or after April 1, 2008, seeking to adopt a child who habitually resides in any country outside of the United States that is a party to the Convention must follow the Hague process.

Steps of the Process

  1. Choose a Hague Accredited ASP (and perhaps also an immigration attorney).
  2. Obtain a home study from someone authorized to complete a Hague adoption home study.
  3. Apply to USCIS before adopting a child or accepting a placement for a determination that one is suitable for intercountry adoption.
  4. Once USCIS approves the application, work with the adoption service provider to obtain a proposed adoption placement.
  5. File a “petition” with USCIS, before adopting the child, to have the child to be found eligible to immigrate to the United States based on the proposed adoption.
  6. Adopt the child, or obtain custody of the child in order to adopt the child in the United States.
  7. Obtain an immigrant visa for the child.
  8. Bring the child to the United States

Adoption in the United States

Certain children who are present in the United States may obtain legal status through adoption in a US State Court. The procedures which apply to these children vary based on their country of citizenship and the date on which the adoption was completed.

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status:

Children who are present in the United States and who do not reside with their parents, are eligible to self petition for a green card/permanent residency through the Special Immigrant Juvenile procedure.

To petition for SIJ you must have a state court order that contains certain findings, USCIS uses to determine your status. The state court may be called “juvenile court”, “family court”, “orphan’s court”, or some other name, depending on which state it is in. The court must have the authority under state law to decide on the custody and care of children.

To be eligible for SIJ status:

  • You must be under 21 years old on the filing date of the petition.
  • Your state court order must be in effect on the filing date of the Form I-360 and when USCIS makes a decision on your application, unless you “aged out” of the state court’s jurisdiction due to no fault of your own
  • You cannot be married, both when you file your application and when USCIS makes a decision on your application
    • “Not married” includes a child whose marriage ended because of:
      • Annulment
      • Divorce
      • Death
  • You must be inside the United States at the time of filing the Form I-360

If you are in the legal custody of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS):

  • You must request permission from HHS for the court to legally place you somewhere else
  • You do not need to request permission from HHS if the state court does not place you somewhere else.

  Deferred Action For Certain Childhood Arrivals

 Over the past three years, this Administration has undertaken an unprecedented effort to transform the immigration enforcement system into one that focuses on public safety, border security and the integrity of the immigration system. As the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a danger to national security or a risk to public safety, including individuals convicted of crimes with particular emphasis on violent criminals, felons, and repeat offenders, DHS will exercise prosecutorial discretion as appropriate to ensure that enforcement resources are not expended on low priority cases, such as individuals who came to the United States as children and meet other key guidelines.  Individuals who demonstrate that they meet the guidelines below may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and may be eligible for employment authorization.

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Children’s immigration is a highly specialized area of the law. Call (770) 303 8212 to speak with Attorney Grace Kennedy regarding your child’s immigration needs.