USCIS Updates Guidelines for Hague Adoption Convention: Key Points for Prospective Adoptive Parents

Updated: Jun 21, 2024 | Tags: Hague Adoption Convention, USCIS Adoption Guidelines, Intercountry Adoption Process

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has announced a significant update to its Policy Manual, specifically targeting the Hague Adoption Convention. Starting June 14, 2024, this update aims to provide clearer guidance for prospective adoptive parents navigating the adoption process under the Hague Convention. 

By consolidating and clarifying existing instructions, USCIS intends to streamline the adoption process and ensure adherence to international standards.

The updated guidelines focus on key aspects such as eligibility criteria for foreign-born children, the required order of immigration and adoption steps, and specific requirements for agencies providing adoption services. 

These changes reflect USCIS's commitment to the principles of the Hague Adoption Convention, prioritizing the best interests of children throughout the adoption process.

Overview of the Update

The update to the USCIS Policy Manual, Starting June 14, 2024, brings essential clarifications to Volume 5, Part D. This section now offers detailed guidance on adopting a child in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention, a treaty that establishes international standards for intercountry adoptions. 

By consolidating existing guidelines, the USCIS aims to eliminate confusion and ensure a uniform approach to the Hague process.

One of the primary objectives of this update is to delineate the eligibility criteria for foreign-born children who may qualify for adoption via the Hague process. It emphasizes the importance of following a specific sequence of steps in the adoption and immigration process. 

Prospective adoptive parents are cautioned not to take in or gain legal guardianship of a child for the purpose of leaving their country and adopting a child until they have fulfilled specific required steps in the Hague procedure.

Key Clarifications and Requirements

The updated USCIS guidelines provide explicit instructions on the eligibility of foreign-born children for adoption under the Hague process. This includes detailed criteria that must be met for a child to be considered eligible, ensuring that all parties involved understand the necessary qualifications and legal requirements. 

By clarifying these criteria, the USCIS aims to streamline the process and prevent misunderstandings or procedural errors.

Additionally, the update outlines the required order of steps for both immigration and adoption. Prospective adoptive parents are advised to adhere strictly to these steps, which include obtaining necessary approvals and completing specific documentation before adopting or obtaining legal custody of a child. 

The guidelines also emphasize the role of agencies that facilitate adoptions, detailing the requirement for a lead provider and the procedures to follow if an agency loses accreditation. These clarifications aim to maintain the integrity of the adoption process and protect the best interests of the children involved.

Commitment to Hague Adoption Convention Standards

The USCIS's policy update highlights its steadfast dedication to the guidelines and values of the Hague Adoption Convention. This international treaty sets forth comprehensive safeguards aimed at ensuring the welfare of children. involved in intercountry adoptions. 

By adhering to these standards, USCIS ensures that the adoption process remains ethical, transparent, and in the best interest of the children.

Central to this commitment are the various safeguards embedded within the updated guidelines. These include stringent requirements for agencies facilitating adoption services., such as the necessity of utilizing a main provider and adhering to protocols in the event of accreditation loss. 

These measures are designed to uphold the integrity of the adoption process, ensuring that all actions taken are in the child's best interests and comply with international norms and standards.

Additional Resources and Information

For those seeking more detailed information on the updated guidelines and the Hague Adoption Convention process, USCIS has made additional resources available. Prospective adoptive parents, adoption agencies and service professionals, and other stakeholders are encouraged to visit the Hague Process webpage. 

This page offers comprehensive details on the steps involved, eligibility criteria, and the roles of various parties in the adoption process.

The updated Policy Manual also includes a downloadable PDF (324.66 KB) that consolidates the new guidance. 

This document serves as a vital resource for anyone involved in the adoption process, providing clear and concise instructions to ensure compliance with the Hague Adoption Convention. By making these resources readily accessible, USCIS aims to facilitate a smooth and transparent adoption process for all parties involved.

Background on the Hague Adoption Convention

The Hague Adoption Convention, formally known as the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption, is an international treaty designed to establish safeguards to ensure that intercountry adoptions are conducted in the best interests of the child. 

Implemented in the United States on April 1, 2008, the convention aims to prevent the abduction, sale, or trafficking of children. It requires participating countries to follow a set of standards and procedures, promoting transparency and ethical practices in the adoption process.

By adhering to the Hague Adoption Convention, the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to protecting vulnerable children and ensuring that intercountry adoptions are carried out with the highest ethical standards. 

The recent USCIS update is part of ongoing efforts to align domestic policies with international obligations, ensuring that all adoptions meet the rigorous requirements set forth by the convention.

Impact on Prospective Adoptive Parents

The updated guidelines provide significant clarity for prospective adoptive parents, outlining the necessary steps and requirements for adopting a child in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention. 

By detailing the eligibility criteria and the required sequence of steps, the USCIS aims to prevent prospective parents from encountering legal or procedural obstacles. This clarity helps ensure that parents can complete the adoption process smoothly and in compliance with international standards.

For many prospective adoptive parents, understanding the complexities of intercountry adoption can be daunting. The updated policy manual serves as a comprehensive resource, guiding them through each stage of the process.

This reduces the risk of delays or complications, ultimately facilitating a more efficient and transparent adoption experience.

Providers of Adoption Services

Service providers involved in the adoption process play a crucial role in the Hague adoption framework, acting as intermediaries between prospective parents and the child’s country of origin. 

The updated USCIS guidelines emphasize the importance of using a primary provider, who is responsible for ensuring that all steps of the adoption process are completed in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention.

This includes obtaining necessary approvals, handling documentation, and ensuring the child’s best interests are prioritized throughout the adoption.

The guidelines also address the procedures to follow if an adoption service provider loses accreditation, ensuring that the adoption process remains ethical and in compliance with international standards. 

By setting clear expectations and requirements for service providers, USCIS aims to maintain the integrity of the adoption process, safeguarding the welfare of children and supporting prospective adoptive parents in their journey.

Importance of Ethical Standards in Adoption

Ethical standards are at the core of the Hague Adoption Convention and the updated USCIS guidelines. These standards ensure that the adoption process prioritizes the rights and welfare of the child, preventing unethical practices such as child trafficking and exploitation. 

The updated guidelines reinforce the necessity for transparency, thorough vetting of prospective parents, and adherence to legal requirements, all of which contribute to a fair and just adoption process.

By upholding these ethical standards, the USCIS and organizations facilitating adoptions work together to create a system that respects the dignity and rights of all parties involved. This commitment to ethics not only protects children but also supports adoptive families in creating stable, loving homes. 

Ensuring that every step of the adoption process is conducted with integrity is essential for building trust in the system and achieving positive outcomes for children and families alike.

Benefits of the Updated Guidelines

The updated USCIS guidelines offer numerous benefits for all parties involved in the Hague adoption process. For prospective adoptive parents, the clarified requirements and step-by-step instructions provide a clear roadmap, reducing uncertainty and potential delays.

This structured approach ensures that parents are well-prepared and informed, facilitating a smoother adoption experience.

Adoption agencies and organizations also benefit from these updates, as they now have a more comprehensive framework to follow. The guidelines help providers ensure compliance with international standards, maintaining their accreditation and enhancing their ability to support adoptive families effectively. 

Overall, the updated guidelines promote a more transparent, efficient, and ethical adoption process, benefiting children, families, and service providers alike.

Next Steps for Prospective Adoptive Parents

Prospective adoptive parents should familiarize themselves with the updated guidelines and requirements outlined in the USCIS Policy Manual. Reviewing the detailed instructions and steps will help ensure that they understand the process and can prepare adequately. 

It is also advisable to consult with accredited professionals who specialize in adoption services and can offer guidance and support throughout the adoption journey.

Additionally, prospective parents can visit the Hague Process webpage for further information and resources.

Staying informed and adhering to the updated guidelines will help prospective parents navigate the complexities of intercountry adoption more effectively, ensuring that the adoption process is completed smoothly and in compliance with both U.S. and international standards.


The recent update to the USCIS Policy Manual marks a significant step forward in clarifying and streamlining the Hague Adoption Convention process. 

By providing detailed guidance and consolidating existing information, USCIS ensures that prospective adoptive parents and agencies providing adoption services can navigate the adoption process with greater confidence and understanding. 

These updates emphasize the importance of following a specific sequence of steps, maintaining ethical standards, and prioritizing the best interests of children.

As USCIS continues to uphold the principles of the Hague Adoption Convention, these new guidelines reinforce its commitment to protecting the welfare of children and ensuring a transparent, standardized adoption process. 

For those involved in intercountry adoptions, the updated Policy Manual and additional resources available on the Hague Process webpage offer valuable support and clarity, paving the way for successful and ethical adoptions.

For more USA Visa news and info check out our homepage USA-VISA