How to Adopt from Hungary
WARNING: Hungary is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Hungary before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Hungarian Adoption Authority
Ministry of Human Resources, Department of Protection and Guardianship of Children (Emberi Erőforrások Minisztériuma, Gyermekvédelmi és Gyámügyi Föosztály). 1054 Budapest Akadémia u. 3. Tel: 011-36-1-795-3153 Internet: Hungarian Adoption Authority
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 Hungary 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.
Because Hungary is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Hungary 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. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
- Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
- Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child by authorities in Hungary
- 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 in Hungary
- Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider:
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Hungary 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 provide adoption services between the United States and Hungary. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will 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 and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
Important: The U.S.-based adoption agency must be registered with the Ministry of Human Resources in Hungary. There are no adoption agencies or adoption centers in Hungary for intercountry adoptions. Adoptive parents or their adoption facilitator who represents the U.S. based agency must deal directly with the Ministry of Human Resources.
2. Apply to USCIS 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 by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the Ministry of Human Resources as part of your adoption dossier. Hungarian Ministry of Human Resources will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Hungarian law.
Important: The submitted documentation is reviewed and the adoptive parents are notified that they were registered with the Ministry of Human Resources. If a document is missing, the adoptive parents have 60 days to submit it. The registration is only valid for two years. After two years, the process must be repeated in its entirety. The Ministry of Human Resources tries to process prospective adoptive parents’ applications in chronological order. However, priority is given to persons willing to adopt a sibling group or a child with special needs.
Before leaving the United States, the adoptive parents will need to obtain their birth certificates and marriage certificate. Those documents are accepted by Hungarian authorities within three months of the date of issue.
3. Be Matched with a Child by the Adoption Authority in Hungary:
If both the United States and Hungary determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Ministry of Human Resources has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Ministry of Human Resources in Hungary may provide you with a referral for a 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 Hungary. The Ministry of Human Resources 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 Ministry of Human Resources in Hungary. Learn more about this critical decision.
Important: Adoptive parents need to notify the Ministry of Human Resources within 30 days if they do not wish to adopt the child and will need to explain their reason.
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 Budapest, Hungary that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Hungary. 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 the Hungarian Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Hungary 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 the Hungarian 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 Hungary before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adoption or Gain Legal Custody of a Child in Hungary:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Hungary, 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 Hungary.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Hungary generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: After meeting with the child, the custody of the child is granted to the adoptive parents. The Local Guardianship Authority issues an official Custody Decree regarding the placement of the child into the custody of the adoptive parents for 30 days. During that month, the child lives with the adoptive parents in Hungary, and the family is regularly visited by the local child protection service. When the one-month custody is successfully completed, the adoption is finalized and a final adoption decree is issued by the local Guardianship Authority.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: Courts have no jurisdiction over adoptions in Hungary; the Guardianship Authorities are in charge of the adoption process.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: There are no adoption agencies in Hungary. U.S. accredited adoption agencies needs to work directly with the Ministry of Human Resources.
- TIME FRAME: If there is a child available for intercountry adoption and the adoptive parent(s) accept(s) the child for adoption, a 30-day temporary custody requirement applies. The procedure after the adoption may take one or two weeks; however, there are very few children on the waiting list for intercountry adoption. The adoptive parents may wait many months or even years until the Ministry of Human Resources offers them a child.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The application is made with the local (county) office of the Guardianship Authority.
- ADOPTION FEES: Although there are no fees for the adoption process itself, other expenses of obtaining documents, passport and translations can be high. For a translation of one page, a translator or a translation office may collect from $25 to $85. The fee for the Hungarian passport for a minor is $12; however the fee for the expeditious processing of the passport application (within one to three days) may be $130 - $185. 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: Adoptive parents need to obtain the following documents with official Hungarian translation:
- 1. Home study;
- 2. Proof of income;
- 3. Psychological report showing suitability of the parents to adopt;
- 4. Home country's advanced permission to the adoption;
- 5. Proof of citizenship (photocopy of the passport);
- 6. Statement of the adoptive parents regarding their motivation for adoption, and expectations about the child (child's sex, age, health);
- 7. Accreditation of the adoption agency;
- 8. Photos of the adoptive parents, of their home, other children or other important elements of their life.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested.
6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring 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
If you have finalized the adoption in Hungary, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain, in most cases, will not yet include your name.
How to obtain a new birth certificate for the child in Hungary: Birth certificates in Hungary are issued by the Vital Statistics Department at the mayors’ offices. In order to obtain a new birth certificate for the adopted child, the adoptive parents need to present the final adoption decree issued by local authorities. The new birth certificate indicates the adoptive parents’ names, and it is issued within one or two working days.
- 2. Hungary Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Hungary.
How to obtain a Passport for the child in Hungary: Based on the final adoption decree and new birth certificate, Hungarian authorities issue a new passport for the child. Passports in Hungary are issued by the Hungarian Passport Office. In order to obtain a new passport for the adopted child, the adoptive parents need to present the final adoption decree issued by local authorities. The new passport indicates the adoptive parents’ names, and should be issued within one or two working days.
- 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 Budapest, Hungary. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody 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.
To learn about the Child Citizenship Act please read The Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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