While it is possible to adopt an adult foreigner in the United States, it does not give them a leg up or change the immigration process. In other words, U.S. immigration laws do not extend special benefits based on adult adoption. That said, adopted by a U.S. citizen may entitle the adoptee to inheritance rights. Read on to learn more about adult adoption and immigration in the U.S and the five elements necessary for a U.S. citizen to adopt an undocumented immigrant.

U.S. Adult Adoption and Immigration Scams: DON’T Fall Victim!

Unfortunately, people looking to immigrate to the U.S. often find themselves the unsuspecting subjects of scams. In fact, many individuals fall victim to fraudsters. For example, some U.S. companies have offered adult adoption and immigration services as a pathway to citizenship. However, these companies are actually promoting SCAMS, as adult adoption is NOT a way to citizenship.

The “Migration Program” Scam

In February 2016, a California man was charged in a phony adult immigration program that he had operated over four years. From October 2012 to January 2016, the program enticed foreigners seeking immigration by falsely promoting immigration status via adult adoption by American citizens. During this time, the company sold their sham adult adoption and immigration services to individuals who paid anywhere from $5,000 to $10,000.

U.S. Attorney Benjamin Wagner, who prosecuted the case, stated:

The indictment returned alleges a particularly predatory and manipulative type of fraud that takes advantage of the hopes and dreams of undocumented immigrants to extract fees based on false promises. The adoption of adult aliens is not a legitimate path to U.S. citizenship. While the charges against this defendant are only allegations at this point, no one should pay fees to anyone making false promises of citizenship through adult adoption.

Ultimately, Helaman Hansen was sentenced to 20 years in prison and a $576,264 fine for his fraudulent “services”.

Legal Criteria to Adopt an Undocumented Immigrant

1. An Adult Undocumented Immigrant Must Meet Minimum Age Requirements

U.S. law allows adoption of individuals 16-years-old and younger. Additionally, the U.S. also allows adoption of children 18-years-old and under in the event the adopting child is a sibling of a child under 16 who has been or will be adopted by the same parents. Due to the long length of the adoption process, adoptive parents are encouraged to initiate the process when the child is 15 or younger.

2. The Adopting Parent Must Meet Marriage or Age Requirements

In order to adopt, the parents must include one U.S. citizen and spouse or a single-parent U.S. citizen at least 25-years-old. Additionally, the court must determine the adopting parent is suitable and eligible to adopt and have the intent to create a permanent legal relationship.

3. The Child Must Be Eligible for Intercountry Adoption

The Central Authority of the child’s country of origin must determine that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. Then, they must approve the proposed adoption placement. Finally, the child must yet have been adopted by or placed within the custody of the prospective parent.

4. Biological Parents Must Provide Legal Consent

The child’s biological parents or parent must provide irrevocable legal consent for adoption. Further, they must provide written consent reflecting the termination of parental rights.

5. The Biological Parents Must Be Unable to Provide Proper Care for the Child

The biological parents or parent that provides irrevocable consent to the adoption must be unable to provide proper care for the child. The standard of care will be based on the child’s country of origin’s living standards.

How to Obtain a Green Card for an Adopted Child

Parents must have physical or legal custody of an adopted immigrant for at least two years before they may receive a green card. Additionally, after these two years the child can file a petition for permanent resident status.

If the child entered the U.S. illegally, a parent can file a visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after two years. Then, the USCIS will transfer an approved case to a U.S. consulate abroad. On the other hand, if the child entered the U.S. legally, a parent can file an adjustment of status application with the USCIS.

Adult Adoption Does NOT Affect Immigration or Citizenship Status

In short, adults cannot become United States citizens through adoption. Thus, immigrants MUST be careful not to lose money to criminals who make false claims and promises. If you are interested in immigrating to the United States or obtaining legal green card status, consult a professional. Many legal and governmental professionals routinely handle immigration matters. Plus, feel free to contact A People’s Choice for more information on adult adoption or immigration services and how to legally adopt an adult undocumented immigrant.

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