NepalLast Updated: July 2014
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
- 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 which involve children who are claimed to have been found abandoned. Evidence presented in support of the claim that these children are abandoned in Nepal is overwhelmingly unreliable. Cases involving relinquishment by known birth parent(s) are 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.
In addition, Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare announced that an approval for intercountry adoption of so-called “foundling” children from the street would not be granted effective January 5, 2011 (2067.9.21 BS) onwards. (See Inter-country Adoption Management Development Board (ICAB) website.) This ban on adoption of “foundling” street children does not apply to children found abandoned in other contexts (e.g., a child abandoned in a hospital).
Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to read the August 14, 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 orphanunder 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. Nepal will not approve adoptions to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex couples.
- 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: Prospective adoptive parents who currently have a biological or adopted child living in their home may only adopt a child of the opposite sex who is younger than the child living in their home. The only exception is if the prospective adoptive parents are adopting the sibling of a child who they have previously adopted.
- 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 relinquish their child directly to an orphanage. They must relinquish the child to the Child Welfare Authority at the Chief District Office (CDO) of each district. The Child Welfare Authority operating under the CDO, rather than the courts, has the authority to determine the subsequent legal guardianship of the child. The court system in Nepal does not have jurisdiction over legal guardianship or adoption issues. Each CDO reports directly to the Nepal Home Ministry (central government). There are 75 districts in Nepal, and each of the districts has a CDO. It is the understanding of the U.S. Embassy that the Child Welfare Authority of the CDO will assign guardianship to an orphanage or children’s home before the child is eligible for intercountry adoption.
- 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. Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600 petition must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if adopted or to be adopted together with a biological sibling under the age of 16).
- Sibling Adoptions: If the prospective adoptive parents already have a child or children, Nepal government regulations state that only a Nepali child of the opposite sex of their biological child or children can be matched. 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 who are approved to adopt special needs children.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: Children are required to have been in the orphanage or 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.
- How To Adopt
Nepal’s Adoption Authority
Intercountry Adoption Management Development Board, under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare
The process for adopting a child from Nepal generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose an adoption service provider
2. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
3. Be matched with a child
4. Adopt the child in Nepal
5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
6. Bring your child home
1. 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. 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.
Note: While Nepali law permits authorized adoption service providers and foreign diplomatic missions to submit adoption 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, Children and Social Welfare (MOWCSW) on behalf of prospective adoptive parents. Accordingly, the only method available at this time to submit an application for adoption of a Nepali child is to engage an adoption service provider that is authorized by MOWCSW to facilitate adoptions in Nepal. A list of U.S. adoption service providers authorized to facilitate adoptions in Nepal is available at the Inter-country Adoption Management Development Board (ICAB) website. Before embarking on an adoption in Nepal, prospective adoptive parents are strongly urged to confirm that their adoption service provider is currently authorized to facilitate adoptions in Nepal.
2. 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 will sign many documents throughout the adoption process. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of the required documents, which may differ depending on how the child became orphaned.
3. 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.
4. Adopt the Child in Nepal:
The process for finalizing the adoption in Nepal generally includes the following:
- Role of the Adoption Authority: The Intercountry Adoption Management Development Board (ICAB), under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare, is designated as the central authority for all issues relating to intercountry adoptions for the Government of Nepal. ICAB is responsible for accepting and processing all applications for intercountry adoptions and determining whether prospective adoptive parents are eligible and suitable to adopt a Nepali child. They are also responsible for overseeing the matching of Nepali children by either the Central Child Welfare Board (CCWB) or the Nepal Children’s Organization (Bal Mandir) with prospective adoptive parents, granting adoptions. and issuing all final adoption and travel documents.
- 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 submitting the prospective adoptive parents’ dossier and other required documents through their local representative to the Ministry of Women and Child Social Welfare. Adoption service providers must also act as the main point of contact for the Ministry as the adoption process proceeds. They 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: A Nepali approved U.S. adoption service provider should submit the prospective adoptive parents’ application to adopt a Nepali child (dossier) to Nepal’s 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 adoptive parents have reported that orphanages have charged them additional, unexpected fees after they arrived 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 submit a so-called "Guarantee Letter.” This letter, which becomes part of the dossier that is submitted to the Ministry of Women and Child Social Welfare, serves to confirm for the Nepal government that the prospective adoptive parents are 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 email@example.com and include the subject line, “Guarantee Letter Request” in your message. (Please note that this “Guarantee Letter” is not the same as the dossier “cover letter” also required by the Ministry. Issuance of a “cover letter” is discussed above under “Choose an Adoption Service Provider.”)
- 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.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) 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. USCIS has implemented special instructions for filing a Form I-600 on behalf of a Nepali child. Under these special instructions, prospective adoptive parents are required to file their Form I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, and the Embassy must complete a Form I-604 Determination on Child for Adoption (informally referred to as the “orphan investigation”) before the Form I-600 petition can be approved. If the consular officer determines that the Form I-600 petition is not clearly approvable, it must be sent to the USCIS office in New Delhi, India for further review and action. Please refer to uscis.gov for Special Instructions for How and When to File Adoption Petitions on Behalf of Nepali Children.
6. 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:
Adoptive parents must have the child’s original Nepali birth certificate. This is the “Birth Registration Certificate” that is included in your child’s dossier for adoption that is kept on file at your child’s orphanage.
Each municipality issues birth certificates. Municipalities will not issue an amended birth certificate showing the adoptive parents as the child’s legal parents. Copies of the original birth certificate will not be released by the municipality to the adoptive parents. Parents can obtain a copy of their child’s birth certificate from the Children’s Home where their child resided before adoption, or, if they require multiple copies, may seek the assistance of a Nepali notary who can obtain copies for a nominal fee.
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 the adoption is finalized, the Intercountry Adoption Management Development Board will issue the adoption decree and a letter addressed to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting a travel document for your child. 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- 423-4500) or emailing (firstname.lastname@example.org) in advance. The Consular Section is open for routine American Citizen Services Monday through Friday (except U.S. Federal and certain Nepali holidays) from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
U.S. Embassy Kathmandu accepts payments for consular services by cash, either in 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 your 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 a Visa to Travel to Nepal
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 an entry visa, although in most cases, visas are available upon arrival at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu. 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 you intend to visit. 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. Adoptive parents can submit 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: www.mowcsw.gov.np (Please note that as of this posting, the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare’s website is under construction.)
Intercountry Adoption Management Development Board (also known as Intercountry Adoption Board)
Tel: +977-1- 420-0328
ICAB accepts and does the processing of the intercountry adoption applications
Embassy of Federal Republic 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)