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AustriaOfficial Name: Austria Last Updated: March 1, 2009
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Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between Austria and the United States possible? Both adoptions to the United States from Austria and from the United States to Austria are possible.
Hague Convention Information
Austria is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore all adoptions between Austria and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Austria is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in extremely rare adoption cases from Austria, including adoptions of Austrian children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by Americans living in Austria.
Who Can Adopt
Adoption between the United States and Austria is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Austria, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Austria also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- RESIDENCY REQUIREMENTS: The adoptive parents need to be legal residents of Austria.
- AGE REQUIREMENTS: The adopting father must be at least 30 years old and the adopting mother 28 years old. The prospective adoptive parent must be 18 years older than the adoptee, with limited exceptions. There is no maximum age limit.
- MARRIAGE REQUIREMENTS: The Austrian government prefers that the prospective adoptive parents be married, although the law does not officially specify this. If married, the couple must apply jointly. If not married, only one prospective adoptive parent may apply.
- OTHER REQUIREMENTS: If the adoptive parents already have children of their own (either biological or adopted), they may have less of a chance to adopt. The adoptive parents must also meet certain personal, social, health, and economic conditions determined by the local youth welfare authority,. If they are found to be suitable an extensive home study is prepared by their social workers. In some Austrian Provinces it is obligatory for prospective adoptive parents to attend a training seminar. Finally, the adoptive parents must have no criminal record.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Austria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Austria must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Austria attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Austria'S requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Please note: There are few Austrian children eligible for intercountry adoption.
If the child is legitimate, the prospective adoptive parent(s) must enter into a contract with the child's biological father (if contact can be made). This contract must contain certain legal requirements, including both of the birthparents' consents.
If the child is an orphan or illegitimate child, his/her legal guardian must sign the adoption contract. In addition, the child's mother (again, if contact is possible) must give her written consent to the adoption, unless she herself signed the adoption contract as legal guardian of the child. All signatures on the adoption contract as well as the biological mother's signature on her consent to the adoption must be notarized either by an Austrian notary public (within Austria) or by a notary public outside of Austria whose signature is authenticated via the "apostille" procedure. A fact sheet outlining this latter procedure may be accessed on the Internet at http://www.HCCH.net ( Hague Legalization Convention.)
How To Adopt
Austria's Adoption Authority
The Bundesministerium für Justiz (Federal Ministry of Justice) in Vienna is the federal Central Authority for adoption in Austria.
However, the local adoption authorities in the various provinces are responsible for setting and administering adoption policies and procedures. See Contact Information for the provincial adoption authorities in the nine provinces, including the City of Vienna.
Because Austria is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Austria 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.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Austria before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
- Be Matched with a Child
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
- Adopt the Child in Austria
- Bring your Child Home
- Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider:
The first step in adopting a child from Austria is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Austria. Learn more.
- Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt:
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Austria. Austria's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Austria's law.
- Be Matched with a Child:
If both the United States and Austria determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Austria may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
- Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption:
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa inelegibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Austria's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
- Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Austria:
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Austria, 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 Austria.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Austria generally includes the following:
- ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Investigations and inquiries to assess the eligibility and suitability of prospective parents are performed independently by the local youth welfare authorities acting under the authority and according to the instructions of the competent provincial governments.
- ROLE OF THE COURT: If the court is satisfied that the adoption would be in the best interest of the child, it issues a decree (Beschluss) certifying the adoption contract. This decree makes the adoption final and legally valid, and a new birth certificate for the child giving any new name(s) may be obtained from the appropriate Bureau of Vital Statistics (Standesamt). If the court does not approve the adoption, the contract is void.
- ROLE OF ADOPTION AGENCIES: Youth welfare agencies, as well as non-governmental agencies in Oberosterreich, Salzburg, and Vienna, place children eligible for adoption with prospective adoptive parents.
- TIME FRAME: Austrian adoptions take about 12 months to complete. This includes the 6 months during which the child lives with the adoptive parents while under the supervision of provincial adoption authorities and an additional 6 months needed to complete legal requirements.
- ADOPTION APPLICATION: The district court granting the adoption is the competent authority per Art. 23 of the Convention
- 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.
With respect to adopting from Austria, prospective adoptive parents can expect to pay notary fees and that of any attorney selected. There are court costs and an adoption contract fee to be paid in connection with an adoption. The U.S. Embassy in Austria discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents.
- DOCUMENTS REQUIRED: The adoption contract and the mother's release are submitted to the appropriate Austrian court with a petition for certification (Bestätigung).
The court may require evidence of the adopting parent's financial status.
The court may also require a "home study" in the United States or at the place of residence abroad through an appropriate agency.
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
- Bringing 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:
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
In the case of adoptions from third countries, the appropriate Bureau of Vital Statistics (Standesamt) will issue a new Austrian birth certificate based on the child's original birth certificate.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Austria.
An Austrian passport will be issued on the basis of a new birth certificate and the court adoption decree.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child.
APPLYING FOR A VISA AT THE U.S. EMBASSY IN austria: Prospective adoptive parents should contact the U.S. Embassy in Vienna for specific procedures when they are applying for intercountry adoption in Austria.
Note: Immigrant Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview.
After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. 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.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad : The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States : The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*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.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Austria. 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 Your Visa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Austria, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Austria, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Austria require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
Post-adoption services are provided by the youth welfare authorities. If requested by states of origin post-adoption reports can be made a social worker or by a private organisation entrusted to do so by the competent youth welfare authority.
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of the country of origin and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
Austria's Adoption Authority
For the Federal Government:
Bundesministerium für Justiz (Federal Ministry of Justice)
Abteilung I 10
Telephone number: +43 (1) 52152 2731
telefax number: +43 (1) 52152 2829
For the State of Burgenland:
Abteilung 6 - Soziales
Telephone number: +43 (2682) 600 2330 or 600 2325
telefax number: +43 (2682) 600 2865
For the State of Carynthia:
Abteilung 13 - Soziales, Jugend, Familie und Frau
Völkermarkt Ring 31
Telephone number: +43 (463) 5363 1301
telefax number: +43 (463) 5364 1300
For the State of Lower Austria:
Abteilung GS 6
Landhausplatz 1, Haus 14
3109 ST. PÖLTEN
Telephone number: +43 (2742) 9005 16371 or 16412
telefax number: +43 (2742) 9005 16120
For the State of Upper Austria:
Telephone number: +43 (732) 7720 15214 or 14962
telefax number: +43 (732) 7720 15328
For the State of Salzburg:
Abteilung 3 - Soziales
Telephone number: +43 (662) 8042 3578
telefax number: +43 (662) 8042 3883
For the State of Styria:
Telephone number: +43 (316) 877 3090
telefax number: +43 (316) 877 5457
For the State of Tyrol:
Wilhelm Greil Strasse 25
Telephone number: +43 (512) 508 2642
telefax number: +43 (512) 508 2645
For the State of Vorarlberg:
Amt der Vorarlberger Landesregierung
Abteilung Gesellschaft und Soziales - IVa
Telephone number: +43 (5574) 5112 4119
telefax number: +43 (5574) 5112 4195
For the State of Vienna:
Referat für Adoptiv- und Pflegekinder -
Telephone number: +43 (1) 4000 90770
telefax number: +43 (1) 4000 99 90770
Embassy of Austria
Address: 3524 International Court, Washington D.C. 20008
Austria also has consulates in: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)