How to Adopt from Burundi
WARNING: Burundi is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Burundi before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender
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 Burundi 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. Similarly, if the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in Burundi after April 1, 2008, and you have an approved, unexpired Form I-600A or filed a Form I-600 before the entry into force date in Burundi, your adoption may be considered a transition case. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.
Because Burundi is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Burundi 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.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be matched with a child by authorities in Burundi
- 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 the Child (of Gain Legal Custody) in Burundi
- Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Burundi 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 done in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention requirements and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
Additionally, Burundian law requires that U.S. adoption service providers providing services in Burundi be authorized by Burundi’s Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender. Prospective adoptive parents can obtain a current list of authorized U.S. adoption service providers from the Ministry by calling +257 22 216 303 or emailing email@example.com.
2. Apply 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 under U.S. immigration law 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 Burundi as part of your adoption dossier. Burundi’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Burundi’s law.
3. Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Burundi determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Burundian Central Authority has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, it may provide you with a referral for that 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 Burundi]. The adoption authority in Burundi 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 and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in Burundi. 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 meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will 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 Nairobi that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Burundi. A consular officer will review the 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 Burundi’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Burundi 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 Burundi’s Central Authority 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 Burundi before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case. The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in Burundi, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption for the purposes of adoption in Burundi.
- Role of the Adoption Authority: All adoption cases are submitted to the Central Authority in the Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender. The Central Authority is responsible for finding children eligible for intercountry adoption after reviewing documentation on each child’s identity, status as an orphan or ward, socio-economic background, medical history, education, and existing family situation/family consent. The Central Authority also is responsible for proposing matches of children in need of placement with prospective adoptive parents, and for providing the Article 16 report on a proposed child along with the proposed match to the U.S. adoption service provider. Once a match is proposed and accepted at the Ministry level, it must then be approved by the local High County Court with jurisdiction. The Central Authority is also responsible for authorizing accredited U.S. adoption agencies to provide services in adoptions from Burundi.
- Role of the Court: Once approval is received from the Central Authority, and the Central Authority confirms receipt of the U.S. Article 5/17 Letter, the case will be transmitted to the local High County Court with jurisdiction for ruling. The High County Court is also responsible for determining that a child was abandoned by his/her parent(s), if he/she was neglected for a period of more than one year.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: The adoption service provider facilitates the pre-adoption counseling, submission of application for adoption, home study, child assignment, and application for child's overseas adoption to the Burundian Government. The adoption service provider also transmits the Central Authority’s report on the child and proposed match to the prospective adoptive parents, and if they accept the match, transmits the prospective adoptive parents’ consent to the Burundian Central Authority.
- Time Frame: Intercountry adoptions can take between six (6) months and two (2) years to complete in Burundi. There is also a 30-day waiting period between the High County Court’s ruling and issuance of the Certificate of Non-Appeal. The certificate must be presented when adoptive parents apply for the child’s new birth certificate and Burundian passport.
- Adoption Application: To start the Burundian adoption process, prospective adoptive parents or their adoption agency must contact the Burundian Central Authority. Application: The prospective adoptive parents file an application with the Burundian Central Authority through an accredited U.S. adoption service provider that is also authorized by the Burundian Central Authority. This application will include a home study on the prospective adopting parents, and documentation of their eligibility to adopt (Form I-800A and approval notice). To indicate they accept the proposed child, the prospective adoptive parents must file a Deed of Acceptance and an Act of Consent to Adoption with the Burundian Central Authority.
- Adoption Fees: The Department of State discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, such as "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested of prospective adoptive parents. Such fees may be perceived as “child buying", may violate the Convention and U.S. law, and may jeopardize all future adoptions in Burundi. 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. Documents required include the following:
- 1. Letter of adoption request addressed to Burundian Central Authority;
- 2. A deed of support from the prospective adoptive parents;
- 3. Consent to the adoption by the prospective adoptive parents;
- 4. Birth certificates of prospective adoptive parents;
- 5. Law enforcement background checks of prospective adoptive parents;
- 6. Copies of passports or travel documents of prospective adoptive parents;
- 7. Medical reports of prospective adoptive parents;
- 8. Certificates of good conduct of prospective adoptive parents;
- 9. Psychological reports on prospective adoptive parents;
- 10. Certificate of family composition of the prospective adoptive parents;
- 11. Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents;
- 12. Certificates of annual income of the prospective adoptive parents;
- 13. A favorable notice on adoption by the Burundian Central Authority;
- 14. The medical records of the child;
- 15. If the child is older than 13 years, he or she must provide written consent;
- 16. Written consent of the family members of the child, if applicable;
- 17. A legal notification of abandonment of the child, if applicable;
- 18. A birth certificate for the child; and
- 19. A social report of the child by the Burundian Central Authority.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
- 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, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.
6. Obtain a U.S. 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. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
- 1. Birth Certificate
If you have finalized the adoption in Burundi, you will firstneed to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport. Changing the name of the child to acquire the surname of the adoptive father is done at the Ministry of Justice in the Department of Legal Affairs and of Litigations.
- 2. Burundian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Burundi. Passports can only be obtained at the government agency Police of Air, Frontiers, and Foreigners. The fee for a passport is 235,000 Burundian Francs (approximately 160 USD), and applications take approximately two days to process.
- 3. 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 Nairobi, Kenya. After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Nairobi] 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.
The Government of Burundi requires U.S. adoptive parents to inform the Burundian Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya that the child received his/her immigrant visa. The Burundian Embassy in Kenya can be contacted at:
Embassy of the Republic of Burundi Muthaiga Road, No. 37 Coop Trust Plaza, Upper hill (off Bunyala Road) P.O. Box 61165 – 00200, Nairobi Tel: (+254) 20 310 826 / 8 Fax: (+254) 20 310 827 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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 in the United States including family travel, eligibility for services and education grants, and voting.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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