MoroccoLast Updated: February 2014
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
Alerts & Notices
Morocco Alert March 8, 2013
- Hague Convention Information
Morocco is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR ADOPTIVE PARENTS: Although this website uses the term "adoption" throughout, prospective adoptive parents considering adopting a Moroccan child should be aware that Moroccan law and process provide for a custody/guardianship certificate issued for the purpose of the child’s immigration and adoption. In Morocco, this guardianship is referred to as "Kafala" and is awarded by a Moroccan court. Under these circumstances, an eligible child will be issued a category IR-4 immigrant visa, and will need to fulfill certain requirements, including the child’s adoption after arrival in the United States, before the child may acquire U.S. citizenship under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring a guardian child to the United States for adoption from Morocco, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-4 immigrant visa.
- Who Can Adopt
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to acquire Kafala guardianship of a child from Morocco for the purpose of emigration and obtaining a full and final adoption in the U.S.:
- Residency: Although residency is not a legal requirement under the Kafala law (an argument some courts used in approving Kafalas), a 2012 Ministry of Justice circular ordered prosecutors to request evidence of residency when processing guardianship requests. Evidence of residency may be required at any stage of the Kafala proceedings, and may differ from city to city and court to court. For example, a prosecutor may require it before sending the case to court, or a court may seek proof before considering the case. It is recommended that prospective adoptive parents consult with an attorney in Morocco about residency requirements.
- Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 25 years of age.
- Marriage: Prospective adoptive parents must either be a single female or a married couple. Morocco does not recognize same sex marriages or domestic partnerships.
- Income: The Government of Morocco requires that people seeking legal guardianship of Moroccan children be employed.
- Religion: Prospective adoptive parents of Moroccan children must be Muslim.
- Other: Prospective adoptive parents must have a letter from a doctor practicing in Morocco indicating that they are in good mental and physical heath and capable of caring for an adopted child.
- Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Morocco has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for Kafala guardianship:
- Relinquishment: Yes, but only by unwed mothers.
- Abandonment: Yes.
- Age of Adoptive Child: 0 to 16 years.
- Sibling Adoptions: Allowed, but not required.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Qualifying prospective adoptive parents may obtain guardianship of children with special needs.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: Not imposed by law, but in practical terms, a child is not available for Kafala guardianship until a court of competent jurisdiction declares the child abandoned, which may take up to several months.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.
- How To Obtain Legal Guardianship
Morocco’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice (Le Ministère de la Justice et des Libertés, Place el Mamounia, Rabat, Morocco)
The process for adopting a child from Morocco generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an adoption service provider
- Apply to be found eligible to obtain legal guardianship
- Be matched with a child
- Obtain legal and physical custody of the child in Morocco
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
- Bring your child home
Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Morocco is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.
Be Matched with a Child
In order to adopt a child from Morocco, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Morocco and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application with the Moroccan Ministry of Justice to be found eligible to obtain Kafala guardianship in Morocco. More information can be found at the Ministry’s website at: www.justice.gov.ma. The website is currently available in Arabic only.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.
- Be Matched with a Child
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority or other authorized entity in Morocco will provide you with a referral. Each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.
The child must be eligible for guardianship according to Morocco’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.
- Obtain Legal and Physical Custody of the Child in Morocco
The process for obtaining legal and physical custody of the child in Morocco generally includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Justice is the decision making authority in legal custody/guardianship cases.
- Role of the Court: Reviews applications and grants or denies Kafala guardianship. If Kafala guardianship is granted, the court issues all related documents such as enforcement of a Kafala order, an authorization to apply for a child’s passport, and an authorization to take the child outside of Morocco to reside with the child in a foreign country.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies that currently operate in Morocco.
- Time Frame: The process can take from three months to two years.
- Adoption Fees: There is no adoption fee per se. Prospective adoptive parents customarily make donations to orphanages to benefit other children who are not adopted. Since these are donations, they may be given at any stage but are typically given at the end of the Kafala process. They range from $500 to a few thousand U.S. dollars. Some orphanages, at no charge, help the PAPs with paperwork and through the Kafala process, and the donation amount may reflect the role the orphanage played in helping the PAPs through the process. PAPs may also need to engage local legal counsel, or spend a significant amount of time in Morocco.
- Documents Required: Valid home study and other documents as required by a Kafala court.
- Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you gain legal custody in Morocco, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
Bring Your Child Home
Once you have obtained legal custody of the child, you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:
If you have obtained a Kafala guardianship certificate in Morocco for the purpose of adopting your child in the United States, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
How to obtain a new birth certificate for the child in Morocco
A court issued abandonment order is required to apply for the child’s local birth certificate at a local administrative office.
How to obtain a Passport for your child in Morocco
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Morocco. Once the prospective adoptive parents receive a court-issued abandonment order, and obtain an authorization to apply for the child’s Moroccan passport, they may apply for the child’s passport at a local administrative office. Obtaining a passport takes anywhere from two days to two weeks.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Consulate General in Casablanca. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Consulate Casablanca’s website: http://morocco.usembassy.gov/visas.html. If you have questions about the process or documents needed, please contact the Consulate via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours. It is not possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Prospective adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Consulate in Casablanca before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*Please be aware that since your child does not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
- Traveling Abroad
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Morocco
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Morocco, see the Department of State’s Country-Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country-Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Morocco, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- After Guardianship Is Obtained
Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Although Morocco does not generally have post-placement reporting requirements, an individual Kafala court may impose certain post placement obligations on the prospective adoptive parents in the Kafala order. If this is the case, we strongly urge you to comply with those obligations in a timely manner. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen parents.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
- Child Welfare Information Gateway
- North American Council on Adoptable Children
- Adoption Services Support Groups for Adopting Persons
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
- Contact Information
Morocco ’s Kafala Guardianship Authority:
Ministry of Justice
Le Ministère de la Justice et des Libertés
Place el Mamounia, Rabat, Morocco
Tel: +212 (0) 537-732-941 to 946
Fax: +212 (0) 537-734-725
Internet: justice.gov.ma (currently, in Arabic only)
Embassy of Morocco in the United States of America
1601 21st Street, NW Washington, DC 20009
*Morocco also has a consulate located in New York City at the following address:
10 East 40th Street,
New York, NY 10016
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)