How to Adopt from Austria
The Bundesministerium für Justiz (Federal Ministry of Justice) in Vienna is the federal Central Authority for adoption in Austria. However, the local adoption authorities in the various provinces are responsible for setting and administering adoption policies and procedures. See Contact Information for the provincial adoption authorities in the nine provinces, including the City of Vienna.
Because Austria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Austria 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 so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Austria before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more .
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Austria
- Bring your Child Home
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
The first step in adopting a child from Austria is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Austria. Learn more.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Austria. Austria's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Austria's law.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If both the United States and Austria determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Austria may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa inelegibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Austria's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). ‘’’For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Austria
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Austria, 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 Austria.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Austria generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Investigations and inquiries to assess the eligibility and suitability of prospective parents are performed independently by the local youth welfare authorities acting under the authority and according to the instructions of the competent provincial governments.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: If the court is satisfied that the adoption would be in the best interest of the child, it issues a decree (Beschluss) certifying the adoption contract. This decree makes the adoption final and legally valid, and a new birth certificate for the child giving any new name(s) may be obtained from the appropriate Bureau of Vital Statistics (Standesamt). If the court does not approve the adoption, the contract is void.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Youth welfare agencies, as well as non-governmental agencies in Oberosterreich, Salzburg, and Vienna, place children eligible for adoption with prospective adoptive parents.
- TIME FRAME: Austrian adoptions take about 12 months to complete. This includes the 6 months during which the child lives with the adoptive parents while under the supervision of provincial adoption authorities and an additional 6 months needed to complete legal requirements.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The district court granting the adoption is the competent authority per Art. 23 of the Convention.
- ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. With respect to adopting from Austria, prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay notary fees and that of any attorney selected. There are court costs and an adoption contract fee to be paid in connection with an adoption. The U.S. Embassy in Austria discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The adoption contract and the mother's release are submitted to the appropriate Austrian court with a petition for certification (Bestätigung).
The court may require evidence of the adopting parent's financial status. The court may also require a "home study" in the United States or at the place of residence abroad through an appropriate agency.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
6. Bringing Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
- 1. Birth Certificate
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. In the case of adoptions from third countries, the appropriate Bureau of Vital Statistics (Standesamt) will issue a new Austrian birth certificate based on the child's original birth certificate.
- 2. Austrian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Austria. An Austrian passport will be issued on the basis of a new birth certificate and the court adoption decree.
- 3. U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child.
Applying for a Visa at the US Embassy in Austria: Prospective adoptive parents should contact the U.S. Embassy in Vienna for specific procedures when they are applying for intercountry adoption in Austria.
NOTE: Immigrant Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.
After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. 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.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
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.
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