Malawi and the Hague Convention

Downtown Lilongwe, .

Malawi is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(the Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).

The Malawi Adoption of Children Act of 1949 does not address intercountry adoptions and courts have wide discretion on how they handle adoptions. Although a May 9, 2009, Malawi Supreme Court decision gave courts more leeway in granting adoptions for foreign adoptive parents, the decision has not resulted in a permanent change to the country's intercountry adoption laws or regulations. The courts in Malawi assess each case individually, taking into consideration the circumstances of the prospective adoptive child. The May 9, 2009, Supreme Court decision did, however, set aside the requirement that prospective adoptive parents live in Malawi and foster a child for a period between 18 and 24 months before an adoption is granted.


To bring an adopted child to the United States from Malawi, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determine Who Can Adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of orphan under U.S. law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States on an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.

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