You asked whether K~ was legally adopted in Japan by Number Holder R~, for purposes
of determining his eligibility for child’s benefits on the Number Holder’s account.
For the reasons discussed below, we conclude that the issuance of an IR-2 visa to
K~ establishes that his adoption was valid according to Japanese law.
In April 2016, B~ filed for auxiliary child’s benefits on behalf of K~, under the
record of R~. In support, she submitted copies of the following documents: (1) an
adoption certificate issued by the Japanese Embassy in Switzerland stating that R~,
a U.S. citizen, and B~, a Swiss citizen, adopted K~ (born March XX, 1982 in Japan)
on February XX, 1983; (2) Japanese passports for K~ issued on June XX, 1982; February
XX, 1984; May XX, 1989; and June XX, 1994; and (3) a Certificate of Citizenship issued
by the Commissioner of Immigration and Nationalization stating that K~, born on March
XX, 1982 in Japan, became a U.S. citizen on September XX, 1998. Although an original
adoption decree was requested, the parents no longer have the foreign adoption papers.
At our request, the Regional Office also provided a copy of K~’s 1987 application
for a Social Security Number Card. The bottom portion of the application, completed
by an SSA employee, listed the following evidence that was submitted: a “Japanese
passport” and “Class IR-2,” which refers to an Immediate Relative-2 (IR-2) immigrant
visa classification code.
The Social Security Act provides for the payment of child’s insurance benefits to
a disabled adult child of an insured individual who is entitled to old-age or disability
insurance benefits. 42 U.S.C. § 402(d)(1). To receive child’s insurance benefits,
a claimant must qualify as the insured individual’s child. Id. The term “child” includes a legally adopted child. 42 U.S.C. § 416(e). To determine
whether a claimant was legally adopted, the Commissioner of Social Security applies
the adoption laws of the State or foreign country where the adoption took place. 20
C.F.R. § 404.356; see also POMS GN 00306.135. Therefore, we must determine whether K~ was legally adopted under Japanese law.
Before a child who is adopted abroad can move to the United States, the adoptive parent(s)
must file a petition with the Department of Homeland Security, United States Citizenship
and Immigration Services (DHS, USCIS), to have an immigrant visa issued to the child.
POMS GN 00306.155D. An IR-2 immigrant visa is issued to a child who was adopted abroad under the age
of 16 and has been in the legal custody of his adoptive parents for at least two years.
8 C.F.R. § 204.2(d)(2)(vii); 22 C.F.R. § 42.11 (defining IR2 classification as “Child
of U.S. Citizen”); U.S. Dep’t of State, Immigrant Visa Process, https://travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en/us-visa-for-your-child/immigrant-visa-process.html (last visited March 27, 2017). To receive an IR-2 immigrant visa for an adopted child,
the adoptive parent(s) must submit a copy of the adoption decree. 8 C.F.R. § 204.2(d)(2)(vii).
In addition, DHS, USCIS and the Department of State must determine that the child
has been fully and finally adopted in compliance with the laws of the country where
the adoption took place. POMS GN 00306.155D. Thus, absent any evidence that raises questions about the validity of a child’s adoption
decree or immigrant visa, SSA may accept the child’s IR-2 status as evidence that
the child was fully and finally adopted in the foreign country. POMS GN 00306.155E.
Here, SSA records indicate that, in support of K~’s 1987 SSN card application, his
adoptive father submitted evidence of K~’s IR-2 immigrant visa classification code.
And there does not appear to be any evidence that would suggest that either his adoption
decree or his immigrant visa was invalid. Since DHS, USCIS and the Department of State
determine that a foreign adoption is valid prior to granting a child an IR-2 immigrant
visa, we conclude that SSA may consider K~’s IR-2 status as evidence that he was legally
adopted in Japan, for purposes of his eligibility for child’s insurance benefits.
The IR-2 immigration visa issued to K~ establishes that he was legally adopted by
R~ and B~ under Japanese law.