If you are adopting a foreign child, the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act requires you to have that child vaccinated against preventable diseases. These include measles, mumps, polio, pertussis, etc. However, certain adopted children are exempted from receiving these vaccinations.
Adoptive parents of these exempted children must fill out Form DS-1981 (Affidavit Concerning Exemption from Immigration Requirements for a Foreign Adopted Child) to attest that they will have the child vaccinated within 30 days of admission to the United States. This form must be completed and submitted to the consulate along with the visa application.
Who Should Fill Out Form DS-1981?
Adoptive parents of vaccine-exempt children should fill out this form. Under the International Adoption Simplification Act, immunization requirements do not apply to children who are:
- Age 10 years or younger
- Seeking an immigrant visa as an immediate family member
- An orphan or Hague Convention adoptee
However, if the parents do not want to sign the waiver, the child may benefit from a medical waiver.
How to Fill Out Form DS-1981
This affidavit is generally straightforward—however, it is still important to understand what you are signing and what information is being requested of you. The first section of the form outlines the legal vaccination requirements for immigrants and the exemptions.
It also explains that to take advantage of this exemption, adoptive parents must fill out this affidavit and have the child vaccinated against the listed diseases within 30 days of admission or “at the earliest time that is medically appropriate.”
In the second section, you must enter your name in the first blank space and the name of your foreign adoptive child second. You will also need to sign and date this section. Doing so means that:
- Your child meets one of the exemptions listed.
- You have filed or will file adoption form I-600 (Petition to classify orphan as immediate relative) or I-800 (Petition to classify convention adoptee as immediate relative).
- You are aware of the vaccination requirements.
- You will have your child vaccinated after admission.
The last section should be signed by a Notary Public or Officer Administering Oath.
Required Immunizations for Foreign Adopted Children
In general, immunizations are required before immigrating to the United States. Some are required by the Immigration and Nationality Act, while others are required by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to protect public health.
Here are the current immunizations required:
- Mumps, measles, rubella
- Tetanus and diphtheria toxoids
- Haemophilus influenza type B
- Hepatitis B
- Pneumococcal pneumonia
- Hepatitis A
Required Medical Examination of the Adopted Child
The U.S. Department of State will appoint a medical doctor in the child’s home country to perform a medical examination. This examination focuses on detecting illnesses and diseases that may render the child eligible for a visa.
Because living conditions in other countries may vary significantly from the United States, prospective parents should also conduct a medical examination with a trusted pediatrician who is familiar with the conditions that afflict internationally adopted children. Parents should also have a thorough examination completed within two weeks of their arrival if the child is experiencing medical problems.
Next Steps After Submitting Your DS-1981 and Adoption Documents
After submitting the required adoption documents, you may be wondering what to expect next. This will depend on whether you submitted a Form I-800 or I-600 adoption application.
Hague Process: Form I-800
If you filed form I-800, after submitting the required documents, the child may receive provisional eligibility to immigrate to the United States based on the adoption. If so, you will then need to obtain legal custody of the child, obtain an immigrant visa for the child, and finally, arrange to bring your child home.
Orphan Process: Form I-600
If your petition is approved, your next step will be applying to a U.S. embassy or consulate for your child’s visa. The officer will determine whether your child is admissible to the United States.
Common reasons that children may be denied entry are health-related problems, including vaccination status. Once you have your visa in hand, you can arrange to bring your child home.
Hire an Immigration Lawyer for International Adoption
The adoption process can be complicated when attempting to adopt a child overseas, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Our attorneys at New Frontier Immigration Law can guide you through the process from start to finish and help you bring your child home safe and sound.
Call us today to learn more about Form DS-281 and get help with the immigration process.