Bringing a Child to the United States for the Purpose of Adoption
By Anish Vashistha
Los Angeles , California


Finding a way to bring a family member to the United States is often very difficult. To make matters worse, many times, the family member is a child whose parents have passed away, have abandoned the child, or are unable to care for him/her. Several Pakistani-American families have been confronted with a nephew or niece living in Pakistan who is not receiving adequate care. These families want to bring these children to the United States so that they may have a loving family with whom to live. Unfortunately, United States Immigration Law does not provide for immigration benefits for nephews or nieces. Trying to bring the child to the United States as a visitor is also very difficult because the United States consulate will not issue a visitor visa to an individual found to have an intent to reside permanently in the United States.

Adoption is the appropriate resolution in many instances for such a scenario. However, the United States Department of State in large part has found that Pakistani law does not formally provide for adoption but instead only allows for legal guardianships and grants of permission to take the child from Pakistan to the United States. Nevertheless, United States Immigration Law allows for United States citizens to bring children to the United States for the purpose of adoption. The children are given immigrant visas and, upon admission to the United States, are issued Green Cards. After arriving in the United States, if the child is readopted in the state of residence, then the child automatically becomes a United States citizen.

Despite this resolution, the process can be quite arduous. Counsel in both countries is typically required to ensure that each country’s laws are being properly followed. Under United States Immigration Law, it is important to show that the child appropriately meets the definition of orphan and that the adoption process is not simply being used to circumvent the United States Immigration Laws. Moreover, for the most part, the process must be completed prior to the child’s sixteenth birthday.

Furthermore, once the child has arrived in the United States and has obtained a Green Card, the family should move quickly with the readoption process to ensure that the child is recognized as a United States citizen. This step also protects the child from unnecessary litigation that attempts to infringe upon the child’s inheritance rights. These issues should be thought through before a family in the United States engages in the adoption process because the adoption will not be limited to immigration purposes. Following the adoption, the child legally will be viewed for the most part as a biological child would, with all the same rights as biological children.

Despite these issues, more families should look into the adoption procedure. Such a process will give a child not only the opportunities in the United States that they would never have in Pakistan but also the family upbringing that is necessary in properly raising a child.

(The author, Anish Vashistha, is a licensed attorney with a nationwide immigration-law practice. He is a graduate from Georgetown University Law Center and Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. He has helped several Pakistani nationals obtain or maintain legal status in the United States. He may be contacted toll-free at 1 (866) 433-7016, by email at, or on the web at



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.