The nice thing about the family petition is that the adoptive parent is not required to prove that the child they seek to adopt is an orphan.  Also, the I-130 family petition can also be a good way to avoid the often laborious I-800 process. That said, the I-130 for an adopted child from a Hague Country can still be quite tricky.  The most common request for evidence (RFE)  that USCIS issues on family petitions from Hague countries involve the two year residency and legal custody requirement.

To start, the petitioner must show that he or she has a full and final decree of adoption from a country that allows its judges to issue full and final decrees of adoption. Sorry predominantly Muslim countries- this excludes most of you!

Second the adoption must be finalized before the child turns 16 unless you are adopting a sibling group.

Then we get to the complicated stuff.  According to the regulations, USCIS may not approve an I-130 petition filed by a US citizen, who is habitually resident in the United States, on behalf of an adopted child who was habitually resident in a Hague Adoption Convention country, unless the adoption was completed before the Convention effective date of April 1, 2008.

Don’t panic! Even if you adopted from a Hague Country after 2008, you can still bring your child to the United States if you can meet one of the three exceptions below:


1.  The US citizen petitioner or spouse resided with the adopted child outside of the US for two continuous years while having legal custody and primary parental control of the child.

2. The US citizen petitioner adopted the child outside of the US while residing abroad with no intention of returning to the US with the adoptive child or

3. The adopted child is residing in the US and the Central Authority of the adopted child’s country of citizenship has determined that the child is no longer an habitual resident of that country but instead is now an habitual resident of the United States.


Here are some things you should consider if you have received a Request for Evidence.

  1. USCIS uses boiler plate RFEs. Even if the RFE you received is pages long, chances are, it has been copied and pasted by the adjudicating officer from another RFE that the officer previously issued. Most RFEs comprise of legal jargon that has nothing to do with your case. Even if the RFE seems insurmountable, there is a good chance that you can overcome the RFE and still have your child’s visa approved.
  2. Read the RFE carefully and determine what exactly it is that USCIS is looking for. If you have filed an I-130 petition for a child from a Hague Country, chances are USCIS wants you to prove that you fall under one of the exceptions listed above.
  3. Do not respond to the RFE by re-submitting the documents that were filed with your I-130. If they didn’t work the first time, they won’t work when responding to a RFE either. You’ll need new evidence to support your case.
  4. HIRE A LAWYER!! A lawyer who routinely handles these types of cases will know exactly what to do.  He or she will review the original petition to see if it is approvable and recommend a course of action to obtain a visa for your child.  You should contact a lawyer as soon as you receive the RFE so he or she has time to help you respond to USCIS. If the lawyer doesn’t know what to do at the time of the initial consultation- find another lawyer!  Don’t be afraid to ask the lawyer if he or she has seen this type of RFE before and how many times and exactly how many similar case is he or she handling right now.
  5. If you responded to the RFE and your petition was denied, all is not lost. Contact a lawyer to see what can be done.  I have seen lots of children ultimately come to the United States on after their initial visa petition was denied when handled correctly by a lawyer who knows what they are doing.
  6. Remember that receiving a RFE (or even a denial) is a problem BUT it is rarely a problem that cannot be solved.