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Although most adopted and prospective adoptive children gain immigration benefits through the section of law on orphan petitions, there is another part of the statute where immigration benefits may be gained through adoptive relationships. Both sections specifically state that the natural parents may not gain any immigration benefits through their previous relationship to the child. At the present time, there is no limit on the number of petitions for adopted or prospective adoptive children which may be approved for any one petitioner.

Children Who Live For Two Years With an Adoptive or Prospective Adoptive Parent(s)

Immigration benefits may be gained under a section of the U.S. immigration law* based on an adoptive relationship if the child was adopted before the age of 16 or, in limited situations relating to the adoption of siblings, before the age of 18 , and if the child has been in the legal custody of and has resided with the adopting parent(s) for at least two years before the petition is filed. The two-year legal custody and residence requirements may take place before or after the adoption is final. The definition of legal custody is described below.

Legal custody begins when it is awarded to the prospective adoptive parent(s) by a legal process via the courts or other recognized government entity and is evidenced by either an official document in the form of a written award of custody or a final adoption decree. Legal custody and residence are accounted for in the aggregate ; therefore, a break will not affect the time already fulfilled. Informal custodial/guardianship affidavits signed before a notary public are insufficient evidence for this purpose.

In addition, the legal custody and residence requirements may be satisfied when met by only one of the adopting parents, rather than both. In other words, a petition may be granted when only the petitioner's spouse has met the requirements, as long as the spouse has also adopted the child. No home study is required . Furthermore, a person petitioning for a child under this section of law does not have to be a U.S. citizen but may be a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

When both legal custody and joint residency requirements have been fulfilled the adoptive parent may file a Relative Petition (I-130) on behalf of their child in the same manner they would for their biological child.If the child is physically present in the United States, under 21 years of age, and not considered to be a "habitual resident" of a Hague Convention country, then an Application for Adjustment of Status to Permanent Resident may be filed at the same time.  If the child is under the age of 21, (s)he is considered an Immediate Relative and the processing time to completion is very short.

If the child you wish to adopt was born in a country that is a signor to the Hague Convention rules, the period of two years custoday and joint residence must take place in the child's home country.

California Adoption

To obtain legal custody of a child who is living in California, one must go through the California courts system to legally adopt a child.  There are two basic types of domestic adoption: independent and agency.

Agency Adoption

Independent Adoption

For each County there a children's services agency that is involved in the process.


This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

The Law Office of Janis Peterson-Lord is located in Long Beach, CA and serves clients in and around Long Beach, Hawaiian Gardens, Artesia, Harbor City, Wilmington, Cerritos, Bellflower, San Pedro, Carson, Paramount, Compton, Norwalk, Woodland Hills, Torrance, Lynwood, Santa Fe Springs, South Gate, Gardena, Bell, Huntington Park, Pico Rivera, Maywood, Los Angeles, Los Angeles County, Orange County.


Immigration Lawyer Long Beach

1383 Redondo Avenue Suite Two.
Long Beach, CA 90804
(562) 494-1010