El Salvador and the Hague Convention

Templo Tazumal.

El Salvador 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 is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of the government of El Salvador.

In order for an adoption application for an adopted child to meet the Convention requirements, a U.S. consular officer must review the case file and issue an “Article 5 Letter” to the Salvadoran Central Authority before an adoption is completed. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents are cautioned to carefully follow in order the steps outlined in the “How to Adopt” Section below.

The process for international adoptions in El Salvador can be lengthy and complicated for prospective adoptive parents. The Salvadoran authorities responsible for administering adoptions are still working on effectively transitioning to the Hague process and significant delays in the process are common and should be expected.

It is important to note that U.S. citizens temporarily resident in El Salvador who are considering petitioning for their adoptive child as an immediate relative may be expected to reside in El Salvador for a minimum of three years. This includes the one year of residency mandated by Salvadoran law to adopt domestically, plus the required two years of physical and legal custody of the child in order to file an I-130 petition. If you plan to pursue a local adoption and then file the I-130, please contact the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador as soon as possible for more information. Please note that although the competent authority responsible for placing children in foster care may grant you permission to reside with and care for your prospective adoptive child, this may not constitute legal custody; taking the child outside of El Salvador during the adoption process is generally not permitted.

NOTE: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.


To bring an adopted child to the United States from El Salvador, 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.

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