April 16th, 2007 03:49 EST
U.S. citizens planing to adopt in Nepal
DISCLAIMER: The following is intended as a very general guide to assist U.S. citizens who plan to adopt a child from a foreign country and apply for an immigrant visa for the child to come to the United States. Two sets of laws are particularly relevant: 1) the laws of the child`s country of birth govern all activity in that country including the adoptability of individual children as well as the adoption of children in country in general; and 2) U.S. Federal immigration law governs the immigration of the child to the United States.
The information in this flyer relating to the legal requirements of specific foreign countries is based on public sources and our current understanding. It does not necessarily reflect the actual state of the laws of a child`s country of birth and is provided for general information only. Moreover, U.S. immigration law, including regulations and interpretation, changes from time to time. This flyer reflects our current understanding of the law as of this date and is not legally authoritative. Questions involving foreign and U.S. immigration laws and legal interpretation should be addressed respectively to qualified foreign or U.S. legal counsel.
PLEASE NOTE: The Department of State has issued a Travel Warning for Nepal. Please review the latest information on travel to Nepal including the Consular Information Sheet at www.travel.state.gov. All visitors to Nepal must obtain a visa. Visas can be obtained prior to departure from the Royal Nepalese Embassy in Washington, DC, any Nepalese Consulate, or upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. It is preferable for travelers who plan to arrive overland from India to obtain a visa prior to arrival in Nepal. Please note that travelers entering Nepal with more than $2,000 in USD cash must declare the amount upon entering Nepal. Failure to declare can lead to arrest and incarceration. More information about visas for travel to Nepal can be found at http://www.immi.gov.np/touristvisa.php.
Prospective adoptive parents are also requested to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu before traveling to Nepal. Please register online: State Department Travel Registration.
U.S. citizens wishing to adopt a child in Nepal must meet both U.S. requirements and the requirements set by the Nepalese government. Procedures for foreign adoptions in Nepal are unpredictable and the Nepalese government requirements are not enforced uniformly. The Nepalese government frequently changes requirements with little notice. Due to the high levels of visa fraud in Nepal, fabricated documents or real documents fraudulently obtained are readily available. As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu must carefully investigate all orphan visa cases to determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law. The need for investigations may result in delays in the visa process and issuing the visa. Cases deemed not clearly approvable by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will be referred to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for review.
Under Nepalese law, single mothers or married mothers who have been left by their husbands must meet stringent requirements regarding the relinquishment of their children for adoption. Fathers have twelve years from the child`s birth to claim the child and assert custody rights. Unless a mother identifies the father and he agrees, in writing, to the child`s adoption, the child will not be eligible for adoption. This can result in uncertainties as to a whether a child is actually eligible for adoption and may result in further investigations and delays.
The U.S. Embassy regularly meets with the Nepalese government, and specifically the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (WCS), on a variety of adoption issues and to advocate for the general interests of U.S. adopting parents. The U.S. Embassy is not able, however, to intervene on behalf of individual cases or expedite the Nepalese government adoption process.
PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION OF ADOPTED ORPHANS TO THE U.S.: Recent U.S. immigrant visa statistics reflect the following pattern for visa issuance to Nepal`s orphans:
Fiscal Year Number of Visas Issued
FY 2005 62
FY 2004 73
FY 2003 42
FY 2002 12
FY 2001 5
ADOPTION AUTHORITY IN NEPAL: The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (WCS) is the Nepalese Government office responsible for adoptions in Nepal. Officially, the Ministry has recognized the Nepal Children`s Organization (NCO), also known as Bal Mandir, to process adoptions, although adoptions through other orphanages are possible.
Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare
Singha Durbar, Kathmandu
Tel: 977-1-424-1465, 977-1-424-1728
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Nepalese law sets out the following age and civil status requirements:
- The age difference between prospective parents and the adoptive child must be at least 30 years;
- The couple must have been married for at least 4 years prior to filing an application and be "infertile;"
- Single women between the age of 35 and 55 may also adopt. Single men may not adopt Nepalese children.
Eligibility for Children to be Adopted: Children (either male or female) under the age of 16 may be adopted. If the prospective parents already have a child or children of their own, Nepalese government regulations state they only adopt a Nepalese child of the opposite sex of their biological child or children. Siblings of the opposite sex can be adopted together if other qualifications are met.
RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: There are no residency requirements for adopting an orphan from Nepal.
TIME FRAME: Most orphanages in Nepal will not assign a child to prospective adoptive parents until there is evidence that the I-600A and fingerprints (evidence of no criminal record) have been approved by DHS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, USCIS). See U.S. Immigration Requirements " section below for details on U.S. immigration requirements. Once the I-600A and fingerprints have been approved by DHS, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will receive a Visas 37 cable from DHS. The Embassy cannot issue the Guarantee Letter until the Visas 37 cable has been received. The process from the approval of the I-600A and the issuance of the Guarantee Letter to the approval of the adoption by the Nepalese government varies in length from six months to two years. Adoptive parents adopting children over the age of three years sometimes find their cases are completed in a shorter time period. The timing is often uneven and inconsistent; changes in the security situation or the government may lead to additional delays.
Some adoptions in Nepal may be completed with one trip to Nepal; however, many adoptive parents travel to Nepal twice or more. On the first visit, they meet the child and complete initial paperwork required by the Nepalese government. They then return to Nepal when the adoption is approved by the Nepalese government to file for the immigrant visa.
ADOPTION AGENCIES AND ATTORNEYS: Most adoptive families work with an adoption agency in the U.S. to adopt from an orphanage in Nepal. Some orphanages have established relationships with specific adoption agencies in the U.S. and work only with those agencies. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu encourages all parents to work through a U.S. agency, as the adoption process in Nepal is quite complex. The Nepalese government does not require adoptive parents to work with specific agencies in the U.S. or Nepal. Only designated orphanages in Nepal are approved to process intercountry adoption cases. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu does not maintain a list of U.S. agencies or Nepalese orphanages processing intercountry adoption cases in Nepal as these may change frequently and any such list would be very difficult to keep up-to-date.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use for adoption services. For U.S.-based agencies, it is suggested that prospective adoptive parents contact the Better Business Bureau and/or the licensing office of the appropriate state government agency in the U.S. state where the agency is located or licensed. Please see Important Notice Regarding Adoption Agents and Facilitators at the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs web site travel.state.gov.
ADOPTION FEES IN NEPAL: The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare charges a fee of $300 for the adoption of an orphan from Nepal. Orphanages and local facilitators in Nepal often charge additional fees to process the adoption and to care for the child once the child has been assigned to adoptive parents but prior to the Nepalese government approval of the adoption by the Nepalese government. These fees vary widely. Adoptive parents have reported a wide variance in fees (between $3,000 " $17,000) charged by Nepalese orphanages, which are largely unregulated by the Nepalese government. Many parents have reported that orphanages have charged them new and unexpected fees once the parents arrive in Nepal. Prospective parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid to orphanages, either by the parents directly or through their U.S. adoption agencies. The U.S. Embassy requires a copy of receipts and information on fees paid in the U.S. and in Nepal at the time of the immigrant visa interview.
ADOPTION PROCEDURES: Prospective parents may adopt through Nepal Children`s Organization (Bal Mandir) or through a private agency.
Adoptive parents in Nepal sign many documents in the process of completing an adoption. Many of these documents are in Nepalese, and English translations are not routinely provided. Parents are encouraged to have documents translated before they are signed. Shree Law Book Management Board is the official governmental translation office. The office is located in Babar Mahal, Kathmandu. The U.S. Embassy requires both the original and the official translation of all case documents at the time of the immigrant visa interview. Please see the Applying for a Visa for your Child at the U.S. Embassy in Nepal " section of this handout for a list of the required documents.
Nepal Children`s Organization reviews applications and makes determinations if parents are eligible to adopt. The U.S. Embassy has no authority to challenge or change a decision by NCO to deny an application. Denial by NCO does not mean a definitive end to the process; parents may still able to proceed with a private agency.
Adoption Guarantee Letter
The Nepalese government requires that all adoptive parents complete and sign a Guarantee Letter. " This letter, which is made part of the dossier that is submitted to the WCS serves to assure the Nepalese Government that the adoptive parents have been approved by the U.S. Government to be adoptive parents and that, if legally qualified, the child will be eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter is completed after the child is assigned to the parents by the Nepalese orphanage or authority. The Guarantee Letter is a requirement of the Nepalese government, not of the United States Government.
The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu cannot issue this Guarantee Letter until receipt of official notice from DHS that the adoptive parents` I-600A petition is approved and the adoptive parents` fingerprints are valid. This notification is called a Visas 37 cable. The Consular Section in Kathmandu encourages all adoptive parents to contact their regional DHS office or the Consular Section in Kathmandu (firstname.lastname@example.org) to confirm that the official notice has been received before traveling to Nepal.
The Guarantee Letter must be signed by the adoptive parents and notarized by a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu or by a notary public in the United States. The letter must have the original signatures of the parents. The letter must be accompanied by notarized copies of the adoptive parents` passports with original signatures of the parents and the notary. If only one parent is traveling to Nepal then the non-traveling parent must sign and have the document notarized in the U.S. along with a copy of their passport. In addition, the traveling parent must also bring a power of attorney to act on behalf of the non-traveling parent. An electronic version of the Guarantee Letter is available upon request from the Consular Section in Kathmandu.
The processing of the Guarantee Letter also requires photographs of the child and parents and a letter from the Nepalese orphanage informing the U.S. Embassy of the details of the match between the child and the adoptive parents, including the child`s name and date of birth. The child`s photo must be affixed to the letter from the Nepalese orphanage to the U.S. Embassy.
Once a Guarantee Letter has been issued, the U.S. Embassy should be contacted with any changes to the case.
Government of Nepal: Next Steps
Once NCO or another private agency has reviewed the case, a committee at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare reviews each adoption file. The frequency of these meetings depends on the availability of the members. If the committee deems that everything is in order, it will recommend the case to the legal section of WCS for further processing. Once the legal section reviews the case and issues a positive recommendation, the Secretary of the WCS issues and signs the final adoption decree in English. Adoptive parents must be physically present in Nepal to take custody of the child once the final adoption is pronounced.
This step in the process varies widely in length. While some cases are processed in as little as three weeks, some take as long as six months, depending on the political situation and the circumstances of an individual case. Further questions about the adoption process on the Nepalese side should be addressed to an attorney licensed in Nepal.
Nepalese Travel Document
Once adoptive parents obtain the adoption decree, they will also need to obtain a travel document for the child through the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Generally, the Nepalese travel document is valid only for one-way travel to the United States and countries en route.
Since there is no direct flight to the U.S. from Nepal the U.S. Embassy recommends that adoptive parents confirm with the countries that they will transit what visa requirements, if any, exist for the child. As the child will be traveling back to the U.S. on a Nepalese travel document (not a Nepalese passport), visa requirements may vary from those for U.S. or Nepalese citizens.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR ADOPTION IN NEPAL: If an adoption is processed through a private agency, in addition to the information listed above for NCO adoptions, the parents must also obtain
- a favorable recommendation from the District Administrative Officer (Chief District Officer) where the child resides; and
- a death certificates and/or a affidavits of consent and irrevocable release of the child of biological parents for purposes of emigration and adoption.
Once a child is identified, the adoption can be handled directly through WCS. Many who choose the private adoption route find it useful to have an adoption lawyer or contact person in Nepal to help navigate the process.
AUTHENTICATING U.S. DOCUMENTS TO BE USED ABROAD: The language describing the process of authenticating U.S. documents to be used abroad is currently under review. Please click on the following link for more information until the new language is finalized: http://www.travel.state.gov/law/info/judicial/judicial_701.html
NEPALESE EMBASSY AND CONSULATE IN THE UNITED STATES:
The Nepalese Embassy in Washington, DC
2131 Leroy Place, N.W.
Washington, DC 20008
Nepalese Consulate General New York
820 Second Avenue, 17th Floor
New York N.Y.10017
Tel: 212-370-3988, 212-370-3989
Email: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to consult USCIS publication M-249, The Immigration of Adopted and Prospective Adopting Children, as well as the Department of State publication, International Adoptions. The USCIS publication is available at the USCIS Web site. The Department of State publicationInternational Adoption can be found on the Bureau of Consular Affairs Web site,travel.state.gov, under International Adoption. "
Before completing an adoption abroad, prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the requirements for filing Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. Please see the flyer How Can Adopted Children Come to the United States " at the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site travel.state.gov.
U.S. EMBASSY IN NEPAL: Americans living or traveling abroad are encouraged to register with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate through the State Department`s travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov/, and to obtain updated information on travel and security within the country of travel. Americans without Internet access may register directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By registering, American citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. The Consular Section is located at:
APPLYING FOR A VISA FOR AN ADOPTED CHILD AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN NEPAL:
When adoptive parents receive the adoption decree from the Nepalese Government and the other required documents parents can file the I-600 Petition to Classify a Child as an Orphan and apply for an immigrant visa. Adoptive parents may come to the U.S. Embassy between 1:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday to request the necessary papers and schedule a review of the papers before an interview can be scheduled. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu recommends that adoptive parents call ahead to schedule a time with an officer. The parents can then file the petition and apply for the immigrant visa at the scheduled time. The U.S. Embassy requires that all supporting documents be complete and the parents be in possession of a Nepalese government issued travel document prior to filing. The following documents are required by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu for the filing of the petition and application for the immigrant visa:
- Travel document issued by the Nepalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- Completed DS-230 Forms part I and II;
- Completed I-600 form and the approved I-600A and notification from DHS (Visas 37 cable);
- The final adoption decree issued by WCS;
- Adoptive parents` proof of citizenship and marriage certificate, if applicable, and power of attorney, if applicable;
- Copy of the home study;
- Receipts and detailed information on fees paid in the U.S. and in Nepal;
- Medical Exam completed by Embassy panel physician (http://kathmandu.usembassy.gov/medical_exam.html);
- Documentation of when adoptive parents met the child;
- Two photographs of the child (2 "X2 ");
- $380 fee payable in U.S. dollars or Nepali rupees;
- All original documents and official English translations including:
--Birth certificate of the child
--Proof that the child is an orphan (evidence of unconditional and irrevocable release and abandonment to an orphanage, death certificate, police report or evidence of the surviving parent`s inability to support the child)
--CDO certification of orphan status
--Any other case documents
- Proof that the child has received necessary vaccinations (or a signed affidavit from parents indicating that the child will receive the vaccinations within 30 days after his/her admission into the U.S. This is available from the U.S. Embassy at the time of the interview.
Appointments are scheduled on a first come first served basis. Adoptive parents must contact the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu to schedule an appointment. Although the final visa interview appears to involve a single action, which may be completed quickly, the consular officer must perform several different steps required by U.S. law and regulation. The officer must review the I-600 petition, verify the child`s status as an orphan, establish that the prospective parents have legal custody, survey the child`s medical condition and confirm that the child has the required travel documentation. Cases found to be "not clearly approvable" must be forwarded to the regional DHS office. This step can add significant time to the processing of a case and is not uncommon. Please do not confirm travel plans until the immigrant visa has been approved and issued by the U.S. Embassy.
Types of Immigrant Visas: IR3 or IR4
While there are several considerations for the IR3 (also known as orphans adopted abroad) and IR4 visas (also known as orphans to be adopted in the United States), the final determination is made by the consular officer at the time of the interview. Nepal is a high-fraud country and fabricated documents or real documents fraudulently obtained are readily available. As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu must carefully investigate orphan visa cases to determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law. Recent changes in the government and the WCS have made the processing of adoption cases even more complex. Due to the complicated and often uneven processing of adoption cases, as well as the lack of detailed information on many adoption cases, few children adopted in Nepal qualify for an IR3 visa.
To file an IR3 or IR4 all the preconditions of the state of residence must be met and the I-600 must be fully completed before the parent, who has not seen the child, can sign the form. If an IR-4 immigrant visa is issued, the parents will need to complete the adoption process in the United States. Adoptive parents are responsible for documenting all pre-adoption conditions of the state in which they are adopting have been met.
U.S. Embassy In Nepal: Please contact the Consular Section to inform us of your travel plans and confirm the dates that the Embassy and Nepalese government offices might be closed due to U.S. and local holidays. Adoptive parents are also requested to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu before traveling to Nepal. Please register online: State Department Travel Registration. The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu requests that prospective parents come to the Consular Section during American Citizen Service hours in the afternoons between 1:30pm and 3:30pm. Officers and the adoption unit are not available in the mornings to assist adoptive parents.
The Consular Section is located at:
Embassy of the United States of America
Yak & Yeti Hotel Complex
NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu must carefully investigate all orphan visa cases to determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law. The need for investigations may result in delays in the visa process and issuing the visa. Cases deemed not clearly approvable by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will be referred to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for review.
ACQUIRING U.S. CITIZENSHIP: The language describing the acquisition of U.S. citizenship for adopted children is currently under review. Until the new language is finalized, please click on the following link for further information: http://travel.state.gov/family/adoption/info/info_457.html.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Specific questions about adoption in Nepal may be addressed to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nepal, 977-1-444-5577 or email@example.com. General questions regarding international adoption may be addressed to the Office of Children`s Issues, U.S. Department of State, CA/OCS/CI, SA-29, 4th Floor, 2201 C Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20520-4818, toll-free Tel: 1-888-407-4747.
Useful information is also available from several other sources:
" Toll Free - For information on intercountry adoption and international parental child abduction, call Overseas Citizens Services at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.
" U.S. Department of State Visa Office - recorded information concerning immigrant visas for adopting children, (202) 663-1225.
" U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services - recorded information for requesting immigrant visa application forms, 1-800-870-FORM (3676).
" Adoption Information Flyers: The U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs web site at: http://travel.state.gov/ contains international country adoption information flyers like this one and the International Adoptions brochure.
" Consular Information Sheets: The State Department has general information about hiring a foreign attorney and authenticating documents that may supplement the country-specific information provided in this flyer. In addition, the State Department publishes Consular Information Sheets (CISes) for every country in the world, providing information such as location of the U.S. Embassy, health conditions, political situations, and crime reports. If the situation in a country poses a specific threat to the safety and security of American citizens that is not addressed in the CIS for that country, the State Department may issue a Public Announcement alerting U.S. citizens to local security situations. If conditions in a country are sufficiently serious, the State Department may issue a Travel Warning recommending that U.S. citizens avoid traveling to that country. These documents are available on the Internet at: http://travel.state.gov/ or by calling the State Department`s Office of Overseas Citizen Services Toll Free at 1-888-407-4747. This number is available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). Callers who are unable to use toll-free numbers, such as those calling from overseas, may obtain information and assistance during these hours by calling 1-202-501-4444.
" USCIS web site - http://uscis.gov/.
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