Adopting in India
WARNING: India is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in India before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
India’s Adoption Authority
Central Adoption Resource Authority
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying India as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.
Because India is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from India 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 not confer immigration benefits on the adopted child (i.e. it is possible the child would not qualify for an immigrant visa if adopted out of order).
- Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
- Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child by authorities in India
- 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
- Adopt (or obtain legal custody of) the Child in India
- 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 first step in adopting a child from India is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are completed in accordance with the Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
In addition, your accredited adoption service provider must be authorized to operate in India. Under Indian law, foreign prospective adoptive parents considering adoption of a child from India are required to use an adoption service provider that is “enlisted” (registered) with CARA. Further details on enlisted agencies may be found on the CARA website.
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 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 Eligibility Requirements.
Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” 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 adoption authority in India as part of your adoption dossier. CARA will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under India law.
3. Be Matched with a Child in India
If both the United States and India determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for adoption, CARA may provide you with a referral of 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 India. CARA will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether or not to accept the referral. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, your adoption service provider will communicate that to CARA. Learn more about this critical decision.
Details about India’s Matching Process:
India first tries to place abandoned or relinquished children with an Indian family in India. If that is not possible, they give preference to an ethnic Indian family residing abroad. If no Indian family can be found, the child may be placed with a non-Indian family. An intercountry adoption shall be completed within 45 days from receipt of the NOC from CARA.
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 meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.
After Form I-800 is provisionally approved by USCIS, the case file is transferred to the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi via the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center, which electronically forwards it to the Embassy. Upon receipt of the file, the Embassy will contact you and your adoption service provider by e-mail to ask you to submit the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260). To complete the DS-260 online you will need to enter the Case Number and Invoice ID Number on the DS-260 login page. You may contact the National Visa Center (NVC) by e-mail at NVCAdoptions@state.gov, or call 1-603-334-0700, to obtain the invoice ID Number. The Embassy will ask you or your adoption service provider to send a scanned copy of a color photo of your child and a scanned copy of the DS-260 confirmation page to NDAdopt@state.gov. Once the Consular Officer receives the visa application, the officer reviews the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, the Embassy will issue the Article 5 letter. The original Article 5 letter will be mailed to CARA and a scanned copy will be sent by e-mail to you or your adoption service provider.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to CARA in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from India 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 CARA that the parents are eligible and suited 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 or obtain custody of a child in India 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. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of Child in India
Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in India, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in India.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in India generally includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Authority:
- Regulates and monitors intercountry adoptions, and implements the Hague Adoption Convention;
- Provides information regarding abandoned/relinquished/orphaned children available for intercountry adoption;>
- Coordinates matching with appropriate RIPA;
- Issues the ‘No Objection Certificates” (NOCs);
- Oversees recognition of RIPAs and adoption service providers; and
- Issues confirmatory certificates (Article 23) for cases for adoptions completed in India.
- Role of the Court: When CARA receives the Article 5 letter from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, CARA issues an NOC and sends it to the RIPA. At that point, the RIPA submits all required documents within 15 working days to an Indian court with jurisdiction. The competent Indian court then issues an adoption or guardianship order for the placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents. Prospective adoptive parents have reported that it usually takes about two months to issue an appropriate order.
- A child can be legally placed with the prospective adoptive parents under the Hindu Adoptionand Maintenance Act, 1956 (HAMA), the Guardians and Wards Act of 1890 (GAWA), or the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000, as amended in 2006 (JJA). Based on their eligibility, the prospective adoptive parents will decide under which act they will file their petition and should understand the implications.
- Non-Indian U.S. citizens are permitted (and encouraged) to complete a full and final adoption of an Indian child under the JJA. Information about Indian adoption laws may be found on CARA’s website: http://adoptionindia.nic.in/index.htm
- RIPAs are not permitted to file a petition in the competent court for a grant of custody or a full and final adoption without an NOC from CARA. No child (orphaned, abandoned, or relinquished) is permitted to depart India without a NOC from CARA and the relevant court order.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. accredited adoption service provider facilitates adoptions by U.S. prospective adoptive parents in India. The U.S. adoption service provider either conducts or oversees the prospective adoptive parents’ home study to ensure it complies with U.S. and state law where the prospective adoptive parents reside. After the provisional approval of Form I-800, the adoption service provider coordinates with the U.S Embassy in New Delhi for issuance of an Article 5 letter and the NOC from CARA. The adoption service provider also coordinates with the respective RIPA for the issuance of adoption/guardianship order by the Indian court and the child’s passport.
- Time Frame: Once the prospective adoptive parents have a provisionally approved Form I-800, they should expect it to take up to six months or longer to complete the adoption and secure the necessary documentation. Please note that obtaining an Indian passport for an adopted child often takes an additional four weeks, however, some prospective adoptive parents have reported waiting as long as two months.
- Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents, in coordination with their adoption service provider, must submit an online application Here.
- Adoption Fees: Adoption costs vary; rates can differ between municipalities. The Department of State discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of buying a baby, may be contrary to the Convention and U.S. law, and put all future adoption in India at risk. Your adoption service provider will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process in the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process.
- Documents Required: You are required to submit the following documents to CARA through your adoption service provider:
- Home study report (see information below for home study reports for U.S. citizens residing in India);
- Recent photographs of the prospective adoptive family;
- Marriage certificate (if married);
- Certificate of medical fitness of the prospective adoptive parents, duly certified by a medical doctor;
- Declaration regarding the prospective adoptive parents’ financial status, along with supporting documents;
- Three reference letters from relatives/friends regarding the suitability of the prospective adoptive parents to adopt;
- Adoption decrees of previously adopted child/children, if any;
- Police clearance report(s);
- Birth certificate/passport of prospective adoptive parents, as proof of age;
- Approval of the U.S. Central Authority (the Article 5 letter, discussed under “Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption” above);
- Documentary proof of citizenship/nationality of prospective adoptive parents, such as a copy of U.S. passport;
- In cases where the prospective adoptive parents are granted guardianship of a child (rather than a full and final adoption), a statement from the adoption service provider that the child will be legally adopted by the prospective adoptive parents pursuant to the laws of the receiving country within two years of the child’s arrival in the receiving country. The adoption service provider will send certified copies of the adoption order to all concerned agencies/entities;
- Statement from the adoption service provider that follow-up reports on the welfare of the child will be sent semi-annually for a period of two years or until such time as the legal adoption is completed and citizenship is acquired in the receiving country;
- Power of Attorney from the prospective adoptive parents in favor of the RIPA to process the case if the prospective adoptive parents are not in India;
- Statement from the adoption service provider committing to care for the child and, with CARA’s approval, to find a suitable alternative placement if the adoption is disrupted before a full and final adoption is completed. The adoption service provider will report the alternative placement to the appropriate parties, including the Indian court handling guardianship/adoption proceedings; and
- Statement from the adoption service provider that it will pay any required adoption fees to the concerned Indian placement agency.
Additional documents if applicable:
- Statement from the prospective adoptive parents’ biological and/or adopted children, and the prospective adoptive child (if old enough) giving their views concerning the adoption plan;
- Divorce decree; and
- In cases where a couples’ combined age is over 90 years, a document from a younger family member expressing their willingness to look after the child in the event the adoptive parents become incapacitated.
Home Study Reports for Americans Residing Abroad:
- CARA has advised the U.S. Central Authority that prospective adoptive parents residing in India for a year or more may ask a RIPA to prepare their home study report, under the supervision of their U.S. adoption service provider. The RIPA must have a written agreement with the adoption service provider to provide home study services. In addition, the home study must be reviewed and approved by the U.S. adoption service provider before it is submitted to USCIS with the prospective adoptive parent’s I-800A application.
- Authentication of Documents: The United States and India are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
6. Obtain Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in India, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
Once prospective adoptive parents receive a court order, they may apply for a birth certificate in the municipal office of the region where the child was born, in coordination with the RIPA and their adoption service provider. They will need the court order, the NOC from CARA, and any document related to the birth of child as supporting documentation. If the adoption is completed in India, the birth certificate will indicate the name of the prospective adoptive parents. The municipal office will issue the birth certificate with the child’s name as it appears on the court order even if it has been changed after adoption. This process takes at least two weeks.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from India.
The prospective adoptive parents or RIPA may apply at the nearest Regional Passport Office for an Indian passport after they receive a court order for the child. The application should include the court order, the NOC from CARA, and the child’s birth record. It generally takes approximately four weeks to obtain an Indian passport. Some parents have reported, however, that the issuance of an Indian passport may take more than two months. Please see information below pertaining to the Government of India’s requirement to surrender one’s Indian passport when one acquires foreign citizenship.
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 New Delhi India. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted you will need to apply for a U.S. visa for your adopted child for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Declaration of Grant of Custody, final approval of the child’s I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. Please contact the U.S. Embassy New Delhi by e-mail at NDAdopt@State.Gov to schedule a visa appointment for your adopted child.
The following is the list of the documents required by the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in order to process immigrant visas for Indian children who have been adopted by U.S. citizens:
- Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260): DS-260 can be completed online at http://ceac.state.gov/iv/. Please enter the child’s date of birth in YYYYMMDD format in lieu of an “Invoice ID” on the DS-260 login page. These forms should be filled out by one of the adoptive parents in your child’s name before coming for the formal visa interview. Every item on the form should be answered. If information is not applicable, please write N/A in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview.
- Updated fingerprint notice of the prospective adoptive parents;
- Child’s Indian passport;
- Two (2) Color frontal portrait photographs of the child with a WHITE background; the total frame should be 5 cm x 5 cm and the child’s head size 3 cm x 3 cm;
- The original court order and a copy of the court order;
- The NOC from CARA;
- Visa Fee of $230 which can be paid in cash (Indian Rupees or U.S. Dollars). Payments cannot be made using a credit card;
- Medical examination report of the child. The medical examination needs to be done by an approved panel physician. A list of approved panel physicians can be found on New Delhi U.S. Embassy website. Read more about the Medical Examination.
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview takes at least one business day. It is not possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should allow at least one business day after the interview before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed in your home state 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.