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AlbaniaOfficial Name: Albania Last Updated: June 1, 2014
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Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Hague Convention Information
Albania is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Albania.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Albania, 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 Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 visa.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to the U.S. requirements, Albania obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Albania:
- Residency: There are no published residency requirements or restrictions.
- Age of Adopting Parents: Under Albanian law, prospective adoptive parents must be a minimum of 18 years older than the adopted child.
- Marriage: Both married and single prospective adoptive parents are permitted. When an adoptive parent is married, the consent of their spouse is required.
- Income: A prospective adoptive parent’s income is considered by the court during the adoption process as an indicator of the potential parents’ ability to care for the child, however, there are no guidelines posted.
- Other: Adoption by same-sex couples is not permitted in Albania.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Albania is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Albania must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Albania attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Albania's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Eligibility requirements are set forth in Albanian Law 9695, dated March 19, 2007, on adoption procedures and the Albanian Adoption Committee: Only children who are on the official lists of the Albanian Adoption Committee are eligible for adoption. The Albanian Adoption Committee lists registered Albanian children when:
- Abandonment has been declared by way of a final judgment (see article 250 of Albanian Family Code)
- Consent has been given by their biological parents; OR
- Consent has been given by the court for the children kept under care (see article 246 of Albanian Family Code).
- Relinquishment: According to Article 246 of the Albanian Family Code, the consent of both parents is required for the adoption of a minor. If one of the parents is deceased, is unable to express his or her will, or had his or her parental rights terminated, the consent of the other parent will suffice. When both parents are deceased, or when their capacity to act has been removed, or when the parents are not known, the court decides if the child may be adopted. If the adoptee is over 10 years old the child’s opinion may be considered and if he or she is 12 years of age or above his or her consent is required.
- Abandonment: Under Albanian law, a child can be declared abandoned if the parents have not been involved with the child for a period of six months before the request for the declaration of the abandonment was submitted. For a child housed in an institution since birth, the timeframe of one year is reduced to three months.
- Age of Adoptive Child: A child must be under 18 at the time of the court decision granting adoption. To be eligible for a U.S. visa through the Convention adoption process, the child must have been under the age of 16 when the court adoption decree is granted.
- Sibling Adoptions: Sibling adoption is encouraged. However, separation may be permitted if a court determines it serves the best interests of child.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Most of the children available for intercountry adoption from Albania have special needs.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: An orphan must have been available for domestic adoption for a period of three months before a prospective adoptive parent residing outside Albania may initiate adoption proceedings.
- Other: Consent for the adoption may be withdrawn by the biological parents for a minimum period of three months from the time it was given and up until the time a court enters an adoption decree. Before finalizing the adoption, the court verifies that the above-mentioned timeframes have been fulfilled, that all necessary efforts to return the child to the biological parents have been made, and that the probationary period with the adoptive family has been successful.
How To Adopt
WARNING: Albania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Albania before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Albania's Adoption Authority
Albania’s Adoption Committee
Rr: Mine Peza, Pallati 87/3
Shkalla 2, Tirana
Tel: +355 (0)4 222 7487; +355 (0)4 222 6465
Fax: +355 (0)4 222 7487
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 [Albania] 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 Albania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Albania 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 Albania
- 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 Albania
- Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
- Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider The first step in adopting a child from Albania 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 Albania. 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.
All adoptions must be processed by an adoption agency accredited by the Albanian Adoption Committee. Currently, two U.S. adoption agency have been authorized:
Bethany Christian Services
901 Eastern Avenue, NE
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503-1295
Tel: (616) 459-6273
Fax: (616) 459-0343
Nightlife Christian Adoptions
767 Lane Allen Road
Lexington, KY 40504
Tel: (859) 263-9964
Fax: (859) 263-9957
- 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 Adoption Committee of Albania part of your adoption dossier. Albania’s Adoption Committee will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Albania’s law.
- Be Matched with a Child in Albania
If both the United States and Albania determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the central authority for Convention adoptions in Albania 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 Albania. The adoption authority in Albania 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 Albania. Learn more about this critical decision.
- 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 Tirana in Albania that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Albania. 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 Albania’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Albania 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 Albania’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 Albania 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.
- Adoption of a Child in Albania
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Albania, 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 Albania.
The process for finalizing the adoption or gaining legal custody of a child in Albania includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Maintains the list of children eligible for adoption and matches prospective children to prospective parents.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: Reviews the case and determines if the adoption should be granted based on the welfare and best interests of the child.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Coordinates between the Adoption Committee and the prospective parents, prepares paperwork and court documents, schedules the court date, and assists adoptive parents to obtain a new birth certificate and passport for the child.
- TIME FRAME: The timeframe varies depending on the court workload. Currently, the wait time from when the parents are matched with a child until a final court decision is approximately two to three months. This process requires two court sessions, approximately two to three weeks apart.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: Handled by the accredited adoption agency.
- 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.
Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Albania include:
1.Court Expenses and certificates – approximately $50.00 (submission of request, court decrees, stamps, court fees birth certificates)
2. Fees for an interpreter to attend the court sessions – $100.00 per session. Most adoptions require two court sessions. This is required in all cases.
3. Fees for a psychologist to attend the court sessions – $100.00 per session. The court will determine if an adoption case requires a psychological assessment in some cases.
4. Translation and notarization of all adoption paperwork – $250.00 (dossier, court papers, certificates)
5. Child's passport
a. Expedited passport application, issued within three working days – $150.00.
b. Regular passport application, issued within approximately 3 weeks – $60.00.
6. Photos of the child – $15.00 (for passport application, for birth certificates, for visa and for medical check)
7. Medical exam – $80.00 for children under 15 years old, and $135.00 for children over 15 years old.
8. Blood test for syphilis – $10.00.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:
- A written request clearly stating the reasons why the adoptive parent(s) want(s) to adopt a child;
- Birth certificate and marriage certificate of the adopting parent(s). Divorce decree and former spouse's death certificate as applicable;
- Police records of the adopting parent(s);
- Personal, family, social and medical information on the adopting parent(s);
- Home Study (An evaluation study on the adopting family made by a social worker).
- 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 for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), 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:
If you have finalized the adoption in Albania, 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 will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
The adoption agency will help you obtain a new birth certificate for the child. The final court decision specifies the adoptive parents’ names, which will be entered in the Vital Office's record of the child.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so s/he will need a travel document or passport from Albania.
The adoptive parents apply for the child’s passport at the passport office, in the same jurisdiction as the civil registry office that issued the child’s revised birth certificate (usually the two offices are co-located). The passport office will keep one copy of the court-issued adoption decree. Most passport offices can process expedited passport applications in three to four business days.
There is a 13 day waiting period after the court date before the decision goes into effect. The child must remain in Albania during these 13 days, although s/he may reside with the adoptive parents during that time. Please remember that your newly adopted child will travel to the U.S. for the first time on his/her Albanian passport. S/he may need to obtain a transit visa in order to be permitted to travel through certain countries (such as the United Kingdom). The transit country cannot issue this visa until the child has a passport. In many cases the transit visa application may take several days or more to process. (Note: this procedure is separate from the U.S. immigrant visa process). Therefore, prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to arrive in Albania a day or two before the court date and to remain in the country for at least three weeks.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need your child’s U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy in Tirana. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, your child needs a medical examination from one of the embassy-approved physicians.
For this process you will need:
- DS-260 application for an Immigrant Visa;
- Immigrant visa fee, which can be paid by you or by the adoption service provider when submitting the DS-260;
- Three visa photos of the child;
- The child's birth certificate and passport;
- A medical report for the child,
- If the child will be 16 years old at the time of the visa interview, he or she must provide police clearances from the Ministry of Justice, Prosecutor, and Court offices. If this age requirement will apply to your child, remind your adoption service provider to coordinate with the Consular Section to obtain the correct clearances.
All the above-mentioned documents must be submitted through an adoption agency authorized by the Albanian Adoption Committee.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
Authentication of Documents:
The United States and Albania are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents must be authenticated with an Apostille by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
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 including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting. Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Albania. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Albania
United States citizens can stay in Albania for up to a year without the requirement of a visa. For further information, please see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health con