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Uganda and the Hague Convention

Mount Khadam
Source: Wikipedia.org.

Uganda is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(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).


Taking into consideration recent allegations of misconduct in intercountry adoptions in Uganda, the Department of State would like to remind prospective adoptive parents that before an immigrant visa may be issued to an adopted child, a U.S. consular officer must ensure that the adoption is legal under Ugandan law and that the child is qualified under U.S. immigration law to immigrate to the United States.


The Department of State reminds prospective adoptive parents that, in Uganda, consular officers are required by law to conduct an orphan investigation (I-604) to verify the child's orphan status prior to the issuance of an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa. Depending on the circumstances of a case, this investigation may take up to one month. If there are any unresolved questions during this orphan investigation, the consular officer must forward the case to USCIS Nairobi for final adjudication. This will take up to 30 days from USCIS' receipt of the file. Adoptive parents are therefore urged to work with their adoption service provider in the U.S. to confirm the status of their case before traveling to Uganda.


WHAT TO EXPECT:

The U.S. Embassy in Kampala receives a high volume of adoption petitions. It is important that prospective adoptive parents have completed all the required tasks and obtained all of the necessary paperwork before scheduling an interview to allow for prompt and efficient service.


Once prospective adoptive parents arrive in Uganda, the legal process can take approximately four to eight weeks, if not longer, depending on how promptly the Ugandan courts act. Ugandan courts expect that the prospective adoptive parent will be present in court. If a prospective adoptive parent is not present, the court may not record the prospective adoptive parent's name on the court ruling and guardianship order. The U.S. Embassy requires that the petitioner's name be on both of these documents, so please plan accordingly. Many people plan on being in country for about two weeks and are disappointed when they realize the process takes much longer.


WORKING WITH U.S. EMBASSY KAMPALA:

The U.S. Embassy in Kampala is here to help with the adoption process, and we ask you to help us maximize our resources.


When you are ready to travel to Uganda for the first time, we ask you to do the following:

1. Enroll online with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at http://step.state.gov.
2. Email us at KampalaAdoptions@state.gov to in order to let us know you will be in country to process an adoption. Please include the following information:
1. Petitioner's name
2. Date of arrival
3. Estimated court date
4. Child's (beneficiary's) name
5. Contact phone number


Starting in the fall of 2013, U.S. Embassy Kampala will hold monthly sessions for prospective adoptive parents to explain the adoption process in Uganda and discuss how you can best work with the U.S. Embassy. These are general overview sessions, and we encourage all in-country families to attend, regardless of where you are in the adoption process. Email KampalaAdoptions@state.gov to RSVP for the next session.


Please understand that we cannot intervene with any Ugandan legal processes, to include the court process and obtaining civil documents such as birth certificates and passports. We are also unable to assist you with filling out required paperwork for the I-600 petition filing and immigrant visa application processes.


U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Uganda, 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 orphan under U.S. immigration 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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