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CroatiaOfficial Name: Croatia Last Updated: May 1, 2014
Alerts & Notices
Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Hague Convention Information
Croatia 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 Croatia.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2014. Read about Transition Cases.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Croatia 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 Immigrant visa.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to the U.S. requirements, Croatia obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Croatia:
- Residency: There are no residency requirements for prospective adoptive parents.
Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective
adoptive parents must be at least 21 old and not older than 35
years old. Adoptive parents must be at least 18 years older
than the adopted child. Persons between 18 and 21 years old
may become adoptive parents if their spouse is older than 21
years of age. In rare cases and at the discretion of the
Central Authority persons over the age of 35 may adopt as long
as they are not over 45 years older than the adopted
Exceptions to the minimum and maximum age requirements, as with all aspects of the adoption process in Croatia, are based on a standard that requires decisions “in the best interest of the child” as determined by the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth in conjunction with the Centers for Social Welfare. For example, a married couple who wishes to adopt but would normally be barred from doing so because one spouse is more than 45 years older than the adoptive child could be granted an exception if the other spouse meets the age criterion.
Marriage: Married opposite sex couples as
well as unmarried individuals can adopt children in Croatia.
Same sex marriages are not recognized in Croatia and, as such,
these couples are not eligible to adopt.
Income: No specific income requirements exist for prospective adoptive parents. However, the Center for Social Welfare must be satisfied that the parents have sufficient means to provide for themselves and the child to be adopted. The Center for Social Welfare makes this determination on a case by case basis as part of its pre-adoption evaluation of the prospective adoptive parents.
Who Can Be Adopted
Because Croatia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Croatia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Croatia have determined that placement of the child within Croatia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Croatia’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.
Relinquishment: Biological parents may
relinquish children for adoption following consultations with
the Center for Social Welfare. Once consent to relinquishment
of parental rights and adoption is obtained by the Center for
Social Welfare no action may be taken towards adoption for 30
days. During this waiting period a biological parent may
revoke consent. Once the 30 day waiting period has elapsed,
the relinquishment and consent to adoption becomes
Abandonment: A child is considered abandoned under Croatian law when no biological parent is identified by judicial and social service authorities within three months from the date the child is found. It is illegal under Croatian law for a parent to abandon a child and these cases are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Age of Adoptive Child: A child must be at least three months old before it can be eligible for adoption.
- Sibling Adoptions: Siblings are encouraged to consider adopting eligible brothers or sisters should they meet all other legal eligibility requirements for adoption.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Special needs children and those with medical conditions are eligible for adoption. Before prospective adoptive parents may be authorized to adopt a child with special needs or a medical condition an expert must find that the prospective adoptive parents’ are able suitably meet the particular needs of the child and/or properly manage the child’s medical condition.
Waiting Period or Foster Care: Once a child is deemed to be abandoned per the above mentioned criteria adoption may occur three months after the date of abandonment. Children in foster care are eligible for adoption. In cases of relinquishment a 30 day waiting period must elapse before an adoption may proceed. During this waiting period a biological parent may revoke the relinquishment.
- Relinquishment: Biological parents may relinquish children for adoption following consultations with the Center for Social Welfare. Once consent to relinquishment of parental rights and adoption is obtained by the Center for Social Welfare no action may be taken towards adoption for 30 days. During this waiting period a biological parent may revoke consent. Once the 30 day waiting period has elapsed, the relinquishment and consent to adoption becomes irrevocable.
How To Adopt
WARNING: Croatia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. You should not attempt to adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Croatia before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Croatia’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Social Policy & Youth
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2014 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to Croatia), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying Croatia 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 Croatia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Croatia 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 Croatia
- Apply to USCIS for the child
to be found eligible for immigration to the United States
receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
- Adopt (or obtain Legal Custody) of child in Croatia
- 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 Croatia 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 Croatia. 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.
Croatia does not allow foreign agencies to provide adoption services inside the country. Instead all intercountry adoptions are facilitated by the Central Authority.
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 adoption authority in Croatia as part of your adoption dossier. Croatia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Croatia’s law.
3. Be Matched with a Child by in Croatia
If both the United States and Croatia determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Ministry of Social Policy & Youth has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests the Ministry of Social Policy & Youth in Croatia 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 Croatia. The Ministry of Social Policy & Youth in Croatia 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 Social Policy & Youth in Croatia. Learn more about this critical decision.
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 Zagreb that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Croatia. 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 Croatia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Croatia 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 Croatia’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 Croatia 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. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of Child in Croatia
Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in Croatia, 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 Croatia.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in Croatia generally includes the following:
Role of Adoption Authority: The Croatian
central adoption authority, the Ministry of Social Policy and
Youth, oversees all intercountry adoptions. The adoption
process is administered by the various Centers for Social
Welfare present throughout the country. Determination of the
competent Center for Social Welfare is based on the
jurisdiction where an adoptee lives.
The Centers for Social Welfare administers the entire adoption process. Abandonment and relinquishment determinations are made administratively by a commission of experts convened for this purpose by the Centers. Each commission is comprised of four members, a social worker, a psychologist, a lawyer, and the center director. This group also makes suitability determinations regarding prospective adoptive parents based on home studies and other documentation it may propose a match of adoptive parents with a specific child.
Once the commission arrives at a decision that the adoptive parents are suitable for adoption and the PAPs accept the match, the commission decision is forwarded to the Ministry of Social Policy and Youth which reviews the decision and either confirms or rejects it. If the Ministry concurs with the Center for Social Welfare its approval is returned to the Center which finalizes the adoption.
- Role of the Court: Courts have no role in the Croatian adoption process.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: Adoption agencies are not permitted in Croatia.
- Time Frame: There is no specific timeframe for the adoption process.
- Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents must submit applications to the Ministry of Social Policy Youth or to the Center for Social Welfare in the jurisdiction in which the prospective adoptive child is resident. Should the application be submitted directly to the Ministry it will be forwarded to a Center for Social Welfare.
- Adoption Fees: The Croatian government authorities do not charge any fees for the adoption process.
Documents Required: The documents needed for
the adoption process in Croatia include, but are not limited
- Birth certificate of prospective adopters
- Marriage certificate
- Psychological assessment of adopters
- Home study
- Statement confirming that adopters have legal capacity
- Statement confirming that adopters have not been deprived of parental rights
- Medical assessment
- Certificate confirming that adopters do not have a criminal record and that there are no current criminal charges against them
- Proof of citizenship
- Proof of employment, salary
- Certificate by the competent authority of the adopters' state of origin confirming that the adoption in the Republic of Croatia is permitted and that it will be recognized in the receiving state.
- Note: Additional documents may be requested.
- Authentication of Documents: The United States and Croatia are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
Note: The Ministry of Social Policy and Youth will most likely request that your submission be translated into Croatian by a court appointed translator.
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 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 Croatia you will firstneed 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.
How to obtain a new birth certificate for the child in Croatia
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Croatia.
Passports are issued by the Croatian Ministry of Interior at a police station in the applicant’s jurisdiction. The passport is issued within 30 days of filing an application. The passport application must be submitted with the following:
- Identity card or other Croatian citizenship document;
- Proof of payment of passport issuance fees, including administrative fee stamps;
- A 3.5 x 4.5 cm photograph (please inform the photographer that the photograph is needed for a biometric passport);
- The old passport, which will be canceled and returned (if available);
- For minor children who are requesting their first passport and have no identity card: a copy of birth certificate and a certificate of citizenship (children 12 years and older must be present to sign the application and submit fingerprints that are stored in the biometric passport).
The approximate cost of the passport application is 80 USD to 100 USD depending whether expedited processing is requested.
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 in Zagreb. 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.
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
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. 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 Croatia
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may 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 affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Croatia 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 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 enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Croatia, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
We urge you to comply with Croatia’s 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 U.S. citizen parents.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in the Republic of Croatia
Ulica Thomasa Jeffersona 2
CROATIA’S ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
Ministry of Demographics, Family, Youth and Social Policy
Trg Nevenke Topalusic 1
Tel: +385 1 555 7111
Embassy of the Republic of Croatia
2343 Massachusetts Ave., NW
Washington DC 20008-2803
Fax: 202-588-8937, 588-8936
The Republic of Croatia also has consulates in: New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Houston.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)