VietnamLast Updated: October 2013
Hague Adoption Convention Country?YES * *Not a U.S. Hague Partner
Are Intercountry Adoptions between Vietnam and the United States possible?Adoptions from Vietnam to the United States are not possible.
Alerts & Notices
- Hague Convention Information
Vietnam is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Vietnam.
Intercountry adoptions between the United States and Vietnam are suspended at this time. Adoption service providers (ASPs) and prospective adoptive parents should not seek or accept adoption referrals from Vietnam until the Department of State, as the U.S. Central Authority under the Hague Adoption Convention, has determined that Convention adoptions may proceed.
On July 22, 2013, Vietnam’s Central Adoption Authority, the Ministry of Justice, Department of Adoption (MOJ/DA), announced that it would accept and consider applications from U.S. Hague-accredited adoption service providers for authorization to operate a limited intercountry adoption program only for children with special needs, as defined by Vietnamese law. Should such a program enter into effect, children from Vietnam who may become eligible for intercountry adoption by U.S. citizen parents would include, as per Vietnamese law, children with certain medical needs, children older than five, and children in biological sibling groups of two or more. The MOJ/DA also announced that only two U.S. ASPs may eventually be authorized, but did not provide a specific timeline for their selection. The Department of State is providing the information below for general reference in preparation for Vietnam’s possible authorization of U.S. ASPs.
- Contact Information
U.S. Embassy in Vietnam
Rose Garden Tower
170 Ngoc Khanh Street
Tel: 84-4-3850 5100
Fax: 84-4-3850 5026/3850 5145
Vietnam’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
Department of Adoption
58-60 Tran Phu Street
Tel: 84-4-3823 1137
Fax: 84-4-804 8400
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20th Street, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 861-2293 or (202) 861-0694
Fax: (202) 861-0917
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-800A or I-800 petition: USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
- Archived Information on Intercountry Adoption Procedures
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Vietnam, 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 Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.
WHO CAN ADOPT
In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents need to meet Vietnam’s requirements in order to adopt a child from Vietnam:
- Residency: Vietnam does not require that prospective adoptive parents reside in Vietnam for a specified period prior to completing an intercountry adoption. In order to finalize the adoption, however, at least one adopting parent must travel to Vietnam to receive the adopted child in person at the Giving and Receiving ceremony before the appropriate Vietnamese authorities. If only one member of an adopting married couple travels to Vietnam, Vietnam requires that the traveling spouse have in his/her possession a power of attorney from the other spouse, notarized and authenticated by the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington or one of the Vietnamese Consulates General elsewhere in the United States.
- Age of Adopting Parents: Under Vietnamese law, prospective adoptive parents must be at least 20 years older than the child to be adopted unless the prospective adoptive parent is a step-parent or maternal/paternal aunt or uncle of the child to be adopted.
- Marriage: Vietnamese law permits intercountry adoption by both single persons and married couples. Gay, lesbian, transgender, and intersex individuals and same-sex couples – whether married or unmarried – are not eligible to adopt from Vietnam.
- Income and Health Requirements: There is no minimum income required. The Vietnamese MOJ/DA will assess the economic, housing, and health conditions of prospective adoptive parents, who must demonstrate that they are sufficient to ensure the care, nurturance and education of the adopted child.
- Other: Vietnam imposes other eligibility requirements. The Vietnamese authorities must determine that the prospective adoptive parents are of good morals and are legally competent. Specifically, Vietnam requires that prospective adoptive parents have not had their parental rights to their own children restricted and must not be in prison or be subject to administrative sanctions imposed by an educational or medical institution. Specific offenses that will disqualify prospective adoptive parents include: deliberately violating the life, health, dignity and honor of others; mistreating grandparents, parents, spouses, children or caregivers; enticing, coercing, or hiding juvenile offenders; or the trafficking, exchanging, or kidnapping of children.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
Because Vietnam is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Vietnam must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Vietnam have determined that placement of the child within Vietnam has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Vietnam’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.
- Relinquishment: For a child to be eligible for adoption, the birth parent(s) or guardian must give their voluntary written consent to the adoption of the child to the provincial Department of Justice. The consent must be given no earlier than 15 days after the child’s birth.
- Abandonment: For abandoned children whose parents are unknown and who are being cared for in an institution, the head of the institution where the child lives gives consent to the adoption to the Provincial Department of Justice. In addition, the provincial police must provide the Provincial Department of Justice with a police report verifying the search for biological parents.
- Age of Adoptive Child: The child must be under 16 years old. Children who are 16 or 17 may be adopted by a stepparent or maternal/paternal uncle or aunt. Children aged nine or older must give their voluntary consent to the adoption. Please also review the U.S. age requirements for a child adopted from a Convention country.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Children with disabilities, HIV/AIDS, and other severe medical conditions, as defined by Vietnamese law, are included in “List 2,” which is Vietnam’s legal mechanism for identifying children with special needs, children older than five, and children in biological sibling groups of two or more who are available for adoption. Vietnam’s procedures for determining the eligibility for intercountry adoption of children with special needs are shortened and expedited. The adoption processing fee is waived. Please see more under the “Adopt a child in Vietnam” section below.
- Sibling Adoptions and Older Child Adoptions: Children in sibling groups and children who are older than five years of age are also listed in the aforementioned “List 2” and are subject to the same procedures that apply to adoptions of children with special needs. Prospective adoptive parents who adopt two or more children who are siblings pay only 50 percent of the application fee for each additional child, but they still have to pay the adoption processing fee.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: In both abandonment and relinquishment cases, three levels of government (communal, provincial, and national) must attempt to find a domestic placement for a child before he or she becomes eligible for intercountry adoption. Each search by each level of government takes 60 days. These domestic search requirements are waived in cases of children with special needs, children older than five, and children in biological sibling groups.
HOW TO ADOPT
WARNING: Vietnam is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Vietnam before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Vietnam’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice, Department of Adoption (MOJ/DA)
Because Vietnam is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Vietnam must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider that has been authorized by the Vietnamese MOJ/DA to operate in Vietnam
2. Apply to USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt
3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Vietnam
4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and
receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
5. Adopt the child in Vietnam
6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Vietnam is to select an adoption service provider (ASP) in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved ASPs that Vietnam has authorized may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary ASP is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
Vietnam announced on July 22, 2013 that it is accepting applications from U.S. Hague-accredited ASPs for authorization to facilitate adoptions under the proposed U.S. -Vietnamese limited intercountry adoption program for children with special needs, children older than five, and children in biological sibling groups, should the program go into effect. All U.S. prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting a child from Vietnam under this limited program will need to work with a U.S. Hague-accredited ASP that Vietnam’s MOJ/DA has authorized to operate in Vietnam.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found suitable and eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements.
Once USCIS determines that you are “suitable” and “eligible” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the MOJ/DA in Vietnam as part of your adoption dossier. Vietnam’s MOJ/DA will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Vietnam’s law.
3. Be Matched with a Child in Vietnam
If both the United States and Vietnam determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the MOJ/DA in Vietnam has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, MOJ/DAmay provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Vietnam. MOJ/DA will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. 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. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to MOJ/DA. Learn more about this critical decision.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, which is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children adopted from Vietnam. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the MOJ/DA in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Vietnam where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the MOJ/DA that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Do not attempt to adopt a child in Vietnam before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopting a Child in Vietnam
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Vietnam, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption in Vietnam.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Vietnam generally includes the following:
Role of Adoption Authority: Several governmental bodies at the national and provincial levels have roles in the intercountry adoption process in Vietnam:
Ministry of Justice, Department of Adoption (MOJ/DA) is the Central Authority for Intercountry Adoption in Vietnam. MOJ/DA is responsible for the overall supervision of the adoption process. MOJ/DA authorizes foreign adoption agencies to operate in Vietnam, accepts and reviews dossiers of prospective adoptive parents, reviews referrals made by provincial authorities, and verifies that the adoption was in accordance with the Adoption Law and the Hague Adoption Convention. In the case of children with special needs, older children, and children in sibling groups (i.e. , children included in “List 2”), the MOJ/DA also matches prospective adoptive parents with the child.
Provincial Department of Justice matches prospective adoptive parents with a specific child in non-special needs cases, organizes the Giving and Receiving ceremony, and maintains the adoption registry, which is a record of all adoption cases processed in the province and which contains information on the adopted child, adoptive parents, and the date the provincial People’s Committee issued the Adoption Decree.
Provincial People’s Committee reviews the referral made by the provincial Department of Justice and, after prospective adoptive parents have accepted a match, issues the Adoption Decree. It does not review referrals made by the MOJ/DA involving children included in “List 2. ”
- Role of Adoption Agencies: The adoption agency facilitates the adoption on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents, including assembling the application dossier for submission to MOJ/DA, providing logistical support for prospective adoptive parents and their adopted child(ren), and providing post-adoption reports to MOJ/DA. The agency is also responsible for fully informing prospective adoptive parents about the child’s medical condition, if applicable, so that they can make an informed decision about the adoption.
- Time Frame: It is difficult to predict with certainty how much time is required to complete an adoption in Vietnam. Adoption processing depends on many variables, including the wait time to be matched with an eligible child, the workload of Vietnamese adoption authorities, and the specific circumstances of each case. Although Vietnam processes adoptions of children with special needs, older children, and children in sibling groups more expeditiously than regular cases, it should be noted that the adoption process in general can be lengthy.
- Adoption Application: To start the adoption process, prospective adoptive parents or their accredited ASP must contact the MOJ/DA.
Application: Prospective adoptive parents file their application dossier with MOJ/DA through an accredited U.S. ASP.
Matching: MOJ/DA reviews and approves the application dossier. Next, it refers the approved dossier to the provincial Department of Justice (DOJ), which matches the prospective adoptive parents with a child. MOJ/DA reviews the referral done by the provincial authorities and notifies prospective adoptive parents of the match through their adoption agency.
In the case of children with special needs, older children, and children in sibling groups (i.e. , children included in “List 2”), the MOJ/DA rather than the provincial DOJ matches prospective adoptive parents with the child.
Prospective adoptive parents may either accept or refuse the referral. If prospective adoptive parents refuse the referral without a reasonable justification, they may not receive another referral.
Prior Contact: Prior to receiving the matching proposal, prospective adoptive parents are not allowed to have any contact with the birth parents, guardian, or institutions caring for the child. An exception to this rule applies to prospective adoptive parents who are stepparents or uncles or aunts of the adopted child, who are adopting children with special needs, older children, or children in sibling groups, or who have already adopted a child who is a sibling of the child to be adopted.
Traveling to Vietnam: Once prospective adoptive parents have accepted the referral and the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi has provided the MOJ/DA the “Article 5 Letter,” the MOJ/DA will transfer the dossier to the provincial authorities to issue the Adoption Decree. The provincial DOJ will then notify the prospective adoptive parents to come to Vietnam to receive their adopted child through the Giving and Receiving ceremony. At least one prospective adoptive parent must come to Vietnam within 60 days of receiving notification to complete the Giving and Receiving ceremony. If only one member of an adopting married couple travels to Vietnam, that person must have in his/her possession a power of attorney from the other spouse, notarized and authenticated by the Vietnamese Embassy in Washington or one of the Vietnamese Consulates General elsewhere in the United States
The child travels to the United States: Once the adoption is completed, the adoptive parents must apply for a Vietnamese passport for their newly adopted child and obtain an immigrant visa from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. (See Section 6 below for more information on applying for the immigrant visa. )
- Adoption Fees:
Adoption fees charged by the MOJ/DA include:
- Application fee: 9,000,000 VND (approximately 430 USD) to be paid to MOJ/DA when prospective adoptive parents submit their application dossier. Prospective adoptive parents who are stepparents, uncles, or aunts of the adopted child pay 50 percent of the application fee. Prospective adoptive parents who adopt more than one child who are siblings pay 50 percent of the application fee for each additional child.
- Adoption processing fee: 50,000,000 VND (approximately 2,400 USD) to be paid to MOJ/DA when prospective adoptive parents accept the child referred to them by MOJ/DA. The fee is waived for adoptions of children with special needs, children older than five, and children in sibling groups of two or more.
Other fees associated with adopting from Vietnam may include:
- Legalization of documents by the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in the United States costs 10 USD per document (as of May 2013). The fee is for authentication of the seal.
- Passport application fee is 200,000 VND per passport (approximately 10 USD) as of May 2013.
- Translations of documents can be done in the United States and the costs may vary.
- Fees for notarizing documents for the Vietnamese passport application should be nominal and posted by the provincial DOJ.
The adoption services contract that prospective adoptive parents sign at the beginning of the adoption process will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to the adoption process.
Documents Required: The following documents are required to be submitted in the application dossier:
- Adoption application form
- Copy of passport or other equivalent identification document
- Certificate of child adoption approval issued by a competent U.S. authority (also known as the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ approval of the Form I-800A application)
- Home study (issued within past 12 months)
- Medical report (issued within past 12 months)
- Confirmation of income (issued within past 12 months)
- Criminal records (issued within past 12 months)
- Marital status certificate, i.e. marriage certificate or single status statement
Note: Prospective adoptive parents are required to prepare two identical sets of application dossiers. All documents must be translated and authenticated by the Vietnamese Embassy or one of the Vietnamese Consulates in the United States. Additional documents may be requested.
- Authentication of Documents: You will 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. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.
6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home with your child. Specifically, you need to apply for several documents before your child can travel to the United States:
The child’s original birth certificate will be given to the adoptive parents at the Giving and Receiving Ceremony. Adoptive parents will use this birth certificate to apply for a passport for their child.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Vietnam.
The adoption agency should assist adoptive parents with obtaining a Vietnamese passport for the adopted child. Passport applications are submitted to the Ministry of Public Security, Department of Immigration office in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Applications should include the following:
- Passport application form with photo affixed, certified by the Provincial DOJwhere the adoption was finalized
- Four separate, identical 4x6 photos with white background
- One notarized copy of the Adoption Decree
- One notarized copy of the Giving and Receiving Minute
- One notarized copy of the Birth Certificate
- One notarized copy of adoptive parents’ passports
Passport applications may be submitted at one of the following offices of the Department of Immigration:
44-46 Tran Phu Street
Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh City Office
254 Nguyen Trai Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
The passport processing fee as of May 2013 is 200,000 Vietnamese Dong (approximately 10 USD). The regular processing timeframe is five days.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Hanoi for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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 if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.
Typically, at least one adoptive parent appears at the immigrant visa interview with the child. If neither parent is able to attend the interview and to execute the oath on the DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application Form, then the adult accompanying the child(ren) must be in possession of a Power of Attorney from the adoptive parent(s) allowing him or her to execute the application and conduct the interview on behalf of the parent(s).
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will generally acquire U.S. citizenship automatically 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 the child’s entry into the United States for the child to automatically 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.
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 Vietnam
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 Vietnam, 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 Vietnam, 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).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Adoptive parents are responsible for providing post-adoption reports to both the MOJ/DA and a Vietnamese diplomatic mission in the country where the adopted child resides every six months for three consecutive years following the adoption. The report should provide information about the child’s health status, physical and psychological development, and how he or she is integrating with the adoptive family and new environment. We strongly urge adoptive parents to comply with Vietnam’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner.
In order to submit post-adoption reports, adoptive parents must fill out the “Child development report form,” which is available through your ASP or on the Ministry of Justice’s website. The form must then be certified by a competent home study preparer and authenticated by a Vietnamese diplomatic mission in the United States.
Under Vietnamese law, ASPs are responsible for reminding adoptive parents to submit post-adoption reports. ASPs must also provide the MOJ/DA with a separate annual report summarizing the development of all Vietnamese children who have been adopted through the ASP. In addition, ASPs must also provide a report on specific cases at the request of the MOJ/DA.
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.