NepalLast Updated: March 2013
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
Alerts & Notices
- Hague Convention Information
Nepal 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).
On August 6, 2010, the U. S. Department of State and United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended processing of new adoption cases from Nepal involving children claimed to have been found abandoned because documents presented in support of the abandonment of these children in Nepal were unreliable. Cases involving relinquishment by known birth parent(s) were not affected by the suspension.
Due to concerns regarding the reliability of Nepal's adoption system, any relinquishment cases received by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will require complex investigations, which may include birth parent interviews and DNA testing. Although we have not yet received any such cases, and cannot estimate the amount of time needed for any individual investigation, we caution that investigations may require significant time and expenses that would likely raise the overall costs for prospective adoptive parents.
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the December 31, 2012 notice concerning adoptions in Nepal before making a decision to pursue an adoption in Nepal.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Nepal, 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-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
- Who Can Adopt
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Nepal:
- RESIDENCY: None.
- AGE OF ADOPTING PARENTS:The age difference between the prospective parents and the prospective adoptive child must be at least 30 years.
- MARRIAGE: The couple must have been married for at least four years prior to filing an adoption application. Single women between the age of 35 and 55 may also adopt. Single men may not adopt.
- INCOME: Prospective adoptive parents must submit financial statements that certify property and income sources. No minimum amount of income is stated in the requirements.
- OTHER: None.
- Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Nepal has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
- Relinquishment: Nepal will process intercountry adoptions for relinquished children.
Under Nepali 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. Birth 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.
Birth parent(s) may not directly relinquish their child to an orphanage. Any relinquishment must be done through the Child Welfare Authority at the Chief District Office (CDO) of each district. Each of the CDOs report directly to the Nepal Home Ministry (central government). There are 75 districts in Nepal, and each of the districts has a CDO, who is roughly equivalent in authority to a U.S. state governor. The authority to determine legal guardianship of a child has been conferred to the Child Welfare Authority operating under the CDO, not the courts. There is a court system in Nepal, but it does not deal with legal guardianship or adoption issues.
- Abandonment: On January 5, 2011, the Government of Nepal, Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare in its Notice No. 1 announced that children found by the police will not be available for intercountry adoption until further notice.
- Age of Adoptive Child: Children under the age of 16 may be adopted.
- Sibling Adoptions: If the prospective adoptive parents already have a child or children, Nepal government regulations state they only match a Nepali 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. The Government of Nepal does not have a policy to keep siblings together.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Children with special needs or medical conditions can be adopted by prospective adoptive parents approved to adopt special needs children.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: Children are required to have been in the children's home for a minimum of 90 days before they are eligible to be matched for intercountry adoption.
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.
- Relinquishment: Nepal will process intercountry adoptions for relinquished children.
- How To Adopt
Nepal’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare
The process for adopting a child from Nepal generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Adopt the Child in Nepal
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
- Bring Your Child Home
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider:
For most prospective adoptive parents, the recommended first step in adopting a child 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. However, Nepal requires all adoption applications (dossiers) to be submitted either by a Nepali approved international adoption service provider or through a foreign diplomatic mission (embassy) in Nepal.
While Nepali law permits authorized adoption service providers and foreign diplomatic missions to submit dossiers on behalf of prospective adoptive parents, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu cannot execute “cover letters” or submit dossier documents to the Ministry of Women and Child Social Welfare (MWCSW) on behalf of prospective adoptive parents. Accordingly, the only method available at this time to submit an application for adoption in Nepal is to engage an international adoption service provider that is accredited with MWCSW.
Before embarking on an adoption in Nepal, prospective adoptive parents are strongly urged to confirm with the MWCSW that their adoption service provider is currently authorized to facilitate adoptions in Nepal. Contact information for the MWCSW may be found on the Country Information Sheet for Nepal. A copy of the MWCSW’s current list of Nepali authorized foreign adoption service providers may be obtained by writing to the U.S. Embassy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
In order to adopt a child from Nepal, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Nepal and U.S. immigration law. You must submit an application to be found eligible to adopt with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare of Nepal.
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.
Prospective adoptive parents sign many documents in the process of completing an adoption. Many of these documents are in Nepali, and English translations are not routinely provided. Parents are encouraged to have documents translated before they are signed. The U.S. Embassy requires both the original and the official translation of all case documents at the time of the immigrant visa interview. Prospective adoptive parents may contact the U.S. Embassy in Nepal at email@example.com for a list of the required documents, which may differ depending on how the child became orphaned.
- Be Matched with a Child:
If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the Ministry of Women and Child Social Welfare will provide you with a referral. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.
The child must be eligible for adoption according to Nepal’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.
- Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Nepal:
The process for finalizing the adoption in Nepal generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare is the adoption authority for the Government of Nepal and is responsible for, among other things, accepting and processing all applications for intercountry adoption, determining whether prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suitable to adopt a Nepali child, overseeing the matching of Nepali children by the Intercountry Adoption Management Committee with prospective adoptive parents, granting adoptions, and issuing the final adoption document.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: None.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Adoption service providers that have been approved by the Government of Nepal to facilitate the processing of intercountry adoptions are responsible for, among other things, submitting the prospective adoptive parents’ dossier and other required documents through their local representative to the Ministry of Women and Child Social Welfare. They also provide the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu with any documents required in connection with the filing of either the prospective adoptive parents’ Form I-600 petition or immigrant visa application. Adoption service provides may also fill other significant roles during the adoption process.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The adoption application is submitted to the Nepal Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare.
- TIME FRAME: The process from the approval of the I-600A to the approval of the adoption by the Nepali government varies in length and is impossible to predict. Changes in the security situation or the government may cause additional delays.
- ADOPTION FEES: The Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare charges a fee of $3,000 for the adoption of an orphan from Nepal. Orphanages charge a $5,000 fee. Many parents have reported that orphanages have charged them additional, unexpected fees once the parents arrive in Nepal. Prospective adoptive 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 service provider. The U.S. Embassy requires a copy of receipts and information on fees paid in the United States and in Nepal at the time of the immigrant visa interview.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:
- The Nepal Government requires all prospective adoptive parents to complete and sign a "Guarantee Letter." This letter, which becomes part of the dossier that is submitted to the Ministry of Women and Child Social Welfare, serves to assure the Nepal government that the prospective 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. To request the issuance of a Guarantee Letter, please email the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu at firstname.lastname@example.org and include the subject line, “Guarantee Letter Request” in your message.
- The full names of the prospective adoptive parents, dates of birth, passport numbers, and permanent legal address are required for inclusion in the Guarantee Letter. In addition, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu needs to have on file a valid, approved I-600A before it can issue a Guarantee Letter.
- At an unspecified time after accepting a referral, the Government of Nepal will issue a “travel authorization” letter to the prospective adoptive parents. It is only upon receipt of this “travel authorization” that the Government of Nepal will allow the prospective adoptive parent to complete the adoption.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
- 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.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you finalize the adoption in Nepal, 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 your adoption is complete, 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 finalized the adoption in Nepal. you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
Adoptive parents must have the child’s original Nepali birth certificate. This will be the “Birth Registration Certificate” that is included in the child’s dossier for adoption that is kept on file at the child’s orphanage.
Nepali Travel Document
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Nepal. Once you have obtained a new birth certificate, you need to obtain a travel document for your child through Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Generally, the Nepali travel document is valid only for one-way travel to the United States and countries en route. Please note that this is not a Nepali passport; the travel document is a limited document allowing passage only to the country where the adoptive parents reside.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and Nepali travel document 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. Embassy in Kathmandu. 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. Embassy in Kathmandu’s website.
Note: You must have an approved Form I-600 petition before an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa may be issued. You may file your Form I-600 petition at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, provided you have a valid, approved Form I-600A on record. Please refer to USCIS.gov for Special Instructions for How and When to File Adoption Petitions on Behalf of Nepali Children.
U.S. citizens should make appointments with the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu by calling (977-1-400-7200) or emailing (email@example.com) in advance to enable prompt response to their inquiry. The Consular Section is open for routine American Citizen Services Monday through Friday from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
U.S. Embassy Kathmandu accepts payments for consular services by cash in either U.S. dollars or Nepal rupees or by most credit cards. Payments are only accepted at the U.S. Embassy Kathmandu’s Consular Section and should not be paid to a third party.
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes at least three working days, and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should not make final travel arrangements before they receive the visa.
Prospective adoptive parents should also be aware that high levels of visa fraud in Nepal include fabricated documents and genuine documents fraudulently obtained. 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 orphan under U.S. immigration law. The need for investigations may result in delays in the visa process. Cases deemed not clearly approvable by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will be referred to the USCIS office in New Delhi, India for review.
Since there are no direct flights to the U.S. from Nepal, the U.S. Embassy recommends that adoptive parents confirm with the countries they plan to transit enroute to the U.S. regarding that country’s transit visa requirements, if any, for their Nepali child. Because the child will travel to the U.S. on a Nepali travel document (not a Nepali passport) visa requirements may vary from those of U.S. citizens.
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 if your child did 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 Your Visa
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 Nepal, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
All visitors to Nepal must obtain a visa. To find information about obtaining a visa for Nepal, 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’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Nepal, 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 Adoption
Nepal requires that the adopting parents send a yearly progress report relating to the maintenance, education and health of the adopted child, along with a recently taken postcard sized photograph of the child. Adopting parents can send these reports through their adoption agency.
We strongly urge you to comply with Nepal’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. 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
Nepal's Adoption Authority
Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare
Website: mowcsw.gov.np (Please note that as of this posting, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare’s website is under construction.)
Embassy of Nepal
2131 Leroy Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
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:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)