PakistanLast Updated: April 2013
Hague Adoption Convention Country?NO
Alerts & Notices
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- Hague Convention Information
Pakistan 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).
Adopting a child in Pakistan can be a long, difficult, and legally-complex process. The Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 governs the rights and interests of minors in Pakistan. Pakistani law and Islamic Shari’a law, upon which Pakistan family law is largely based, does not allow for adoptions of Pakistani children in Pakistan. According to Pakistan's laws, prospective adoptive parents who are non-Muslim may not be appointed guardians of Muslim children, and non-Christians may not be appointed guardians of Christian children. Children abandoned at an Islamic orphanage are deemed Muslim unless there is any evidence to prove otherwise.
U. S. citizens considering adoption of a non-Muslim Pakistani child must obtain guardianship for emigration and adoption in the United States from the Family Court that has jurisdiction over the prospective adoptive child’s place of residence. In order for the child to be eligible to receive an immigrant visa, the guardianship order must imply permission for the child to emigrate and be adopted in another country. Prospective adoptive parents should refer to our information sheet on Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari'a Law is observed for more information.
Prospective adoptive parents should exercise caution and are advised to fully research any adoption agency or facilitator they plan to use. Prospective adoptive parents may be targets for unscrupulous lawyers or adoption agencies that may not be able to deliver on their promises. Prospective adoptive parents are strongly encouraged to contact the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s consular section by email at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov, or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ (USCIS) National Benefits Center at NBC.Adoptions@dhs.gov, before applying for guardianship of a child to ensure that proper procedures have been followed.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring a child you have obtained guardianship of to the United States from Pakistan, 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
Pakistan has no statute that provides for the adoption of Muslim children; thus there is no law setting forth age, residency, or marriage requirements. In general, adoptions are a community matter in Pakistan. People often opt for informal adoptions according to their faith, outside the Family Courts. Such informal adoptions do not meet the criteria set forth in the U.S. law for the issuance of an immigration visa to an adopted child. Prospective adoptive parents must comply with U.S. legal requirements in the I-600 process and applicable provisions of the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 in Pakistan.
- Who Can Be Adopted
If you have a particular child for adoption in mind—especially a relative—you may wish to consult a lawyer or USCIS to assist you in determining whether the child meets the definition of orphan in U.S. law before proceeding.
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 while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if adopted or to be adopted together with a sibling under the age of 16).
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
Pakistan's Adoption Authority
There is no central government adoption authority. Guardianship proceedings are filed in the family courts.
The process for adopting a child from Pakistan generally includes the following steps:
- Choose an Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Gain Legal custody of the child in Pakistan
- 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 Pakistan 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.
There are no adoption agencies in Pakistan. A list of attorneys is available to prospective adoptive parents on the U.S. Embassy Islamabad’s website. Make sure your lawyer in Pakistan has experience with U.S. adoption cases.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Pakistan, you will need to meet the requirements of both Pakistan law and U.S. immigration law.
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
There is no central government adoption authority in Pakistan. Orphanages in Pakistan must be licensed, and the child must be a ward of the state in order to meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law. If you are eligible to adopt, you will need to contact orphanages, charitable institutions, or social welfare agencies to assist you to identify a child who is eligible for intercountry adoption. As there is no central governmental adoption authority in Pakistan that can certify specific children are indeed abandoned or orphaned, it can be extremely difficult to fulfill the legal requirements of U.S. immigration law. Please note that if a child has not been a ward of the state or is not in the care of a licensed orphanage, the child cannot be considered an orphan under U.S. law. Each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent home for the child.
The child must be eligible for guardianship according Pakistan’s requirements, as described in the “Who Can Be Adopted” section above. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.
- Gain Legal Custody of the Child in Pakistan
The process for gaining legal custody in Pakistan includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Authority: Pakistan does not have a central government adoption authority.
- Role of Licensed Orphanages: Once prospective adoptive parents have identified a child through a licensed orphanage, the orphanage provides the prospective adoptive parents with a letter describing the identity and social history of the child. The prospective adoptive parents or their attorney in Pakistan can file an application for guardianship in Family Court with this letter.
- Role of the Court: Family Courts have jurisdiction over the guardianship of children. If the Family Court grants the prospective adoptive parents guardianship, they will issue a record of the proceedings, a guardianship order, and a guardianship certificate. The certificate must state that guardianship is granted for purposes of immigration to and adoption in the United States.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies in Pakistan.
- Adoption Application: There is no adoption application. Prospective adoptive parents petition the Family Court for guardianship of a specific child.
- Role of Lawyers: Attorneys assist prospective adoptive parents with understanding the process for obtaining guardianship of a Pakistani child through the Family Court, file the prospective adoptive parents’ petition for guardianship with the Family Court, and obtain final court documents. A list of attorneys is available on the U.S. Embassy’s website.
- Time Frame: It is difficult to estimate how long it will take for prospective adoptive parents to obtain guardianship of a child through the Family Court.
- Adoption Fees: Fees vary widely and may include lawyer’s fees, court fees, expedite fees, changes to court documents, etc.
- Documents Required: The following documents are required to complete the adoption process:
- Proof of U.S. citizenship of the prospective adoptive parents;
- Proof of marriage of the prospective adoptive parents, if married; if the prospective adoptive parent is divorced, proof of the termination of all previous marriages;
- Fingerprint cards for the prospective adoptive parents and all other adult members of the prospective adoptive parents’ household;
- Approved home-study report.
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’s Authentications Office may be able to assist.
Caution: Pakistani documents on rupee paper and documents notarized by a lawyer are not considered official documents. The Embassy will only accept original or court certified documents related to guardianships in Pakistan.
Obtaining fraudulent documents is against the law in Pakistan.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you gain legal custody in Pakistan, 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.
You must have an approved Form I-600 Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative before an immigrant visa may be issued. You may file your Form I-600 petition in the U.S. or at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad provided you have a valid, approved I-600A on record.
- Bring Your Child Home
Once you have obtained legal custody of the child, you will 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 Pakistan, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate, referred to as the Child Registration Certificate (CRC), for your child.
You should take your guardianship certificate (issued by the Family Court) to the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) to amend your child's Form B, listing you as the parents. You may apply for a Pakistani passport for your child with the amended form and your guardianship certificate. Information on how to obtain a new CRC for your child at: nadra.gov.pk/index.php/products/certificates/crc.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Pakistan.
Information on how to apply for a Pakistan passport for your child may be found at: dgip.gov.pk/Files/Home.html.
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. Embassy in Islamabad. 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 Islamabad’s website.
Prospective adoptive parents who plan to file their Form I-600 with the U.S. Embassy Islamabad should contact the consular section by email at AdoptionsPakistan@state.gov to confirm that they have a valid approved Form I-600A on record and to make an appointment to file Form I-600 and supporting documents.
Prospective adoptive parents are reminded that consular officers are required by law to conduct a Form I-604 Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as the “orphan investigation”) to verify the child's orphan status before an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa may be issued. Depending on the circumstances of a case, this investigation may take up to several months to complete, even if the Form I-600 petition is already approved. Cases in which a child’s orphan status cannot be confirmed must be forwarded to USCIS for review and final determination. Prospective adoptive parents should have flexible travel plans if they plan to remain in Pakistan until the Form I-604 is completed.
Once the consular section receives the family’s approved Form I-600 petition, staff will contact the family by email concerning their next steps. Immigrant visa applicants must complete a series of forms – details of which will be provided to the prospective adoptive parents by the consular section – before the immigrant visa interview may take place. Once the prospective adoptive parents have compiled all of the documents required for the immigrant visa interview, they must call the consular section to schedule their child’s immigrant visa appointment. A consular officer conducts the interview and, if the visa application is approved, issues the visa. A consular officer must see the adopted child in person before the immigrant visa may be issued.
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 working hours 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.
Child Citizenship Act
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 Pakistan
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 Pakistan, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Caution: You must make sure your visa does not expire while you are in Pakistan. If the visa expires it is very difficult to exit Pakistan.
If you lose your passport it will be very difficult to leave Pakistan, even with a replacement U.S. passport. The reason is that Pakistani immigration requires all passengers to transit with the visa or NICOB they used to enter Pakistan. Without the original, it is very difficult to exit Pakistan. We therefore strongly urge you to make copies of your passport and Pakistani visa. When you arrive, we suggest making a copy of the entry stamp, and send these copies to your email address.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
We recommend you investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of Pakistan before you arrive. 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 to Pakistan, 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 Pakistan, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
- After Adoption
What does Pakistan require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
The Family Law Court may ask the adoptive parents to bring the child back to Pakistan upon request. If this happens, the adoptive parents will need to weigh the child’s welfare and safety with complying with the Court’s request. Please consult with your lawyer for further information.
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
- Contact Information
National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA)
NADRA State Bank of Pakistan Bldg.
Islamabad – 44000
Tel: +92 51 111 786 1000
*Pakistan also has consulates in Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Houston and Boston.
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)