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PalauOfficial Name: Palau Last Updated: June 1, 2015
Alerts & Notices
No Current Alerts or Notices
Hague Adoption Convention Country? No
Hague Convention Information
Palau 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). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
Although the “Compact of Free Association” between Palau and the United States permits Palauan citizens to travel to the United States for some temporary purposes without a U.S. visa, this provision is NOT applicable to adopted children who will reside permanently with American families in the United States. Prospective adoptive parents of Palauan children must go through the appropriate Palauan adoption procedures as well as the relevant U.S. immigration procedures. Adopted Palauan children who enter the United States without a visa will later have difficulties adjusting their U.S. immigration status and, eventually, acquiring U.S. citizenship.
U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Palau, 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.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Palau:
- Residency: The Palauan government has no specific requirement or policy regarding the residency of foreign prospective adoptive parents.
- Age of Adopting Parents: There are no age requirements for prospective adoptive parents, as long as Palauan authorities deem the prospective adoptive parents “suitable” to adopt.
- Marriage: Under Palauan law, both married couples and single individuals may adopt Palauan children if the Palauan authorities deem the prospective adoptive parents “suitable” to adopt. Foreign citizens who are married to Palauan citizens may also adopt their Palauan stepchildren. The law does not explicitly prohibit adoptions by same-sex couples or lesbian, gay, or bi-sexual individuals.
- Income: There is no minimum income requirement for prospective adoptive parents, as long as Palauan authorities deem the prospective adoptive parents “suitable” to adopt.
- Other: There are no other specific requirements for prospective adoptive parents, as long as Palauan authorities deem them “suitable” to adopt. There is no requirement that the prospective adoptive parents have a background check or home visit or provide police records to the authorities.
Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Palau has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
- Relinquishment: The relinquishing parent(s) must provide signed consent.
- Abandonment: A child is considered abandoned if a period of six months passes without contact with the biological parent(s). The adopting parents must show they have made a good faith effort to contact the biological parent(s).
- Age of Adoptive Child: Children under 18 years of age may be adopted. A child over the age of 12 years old must consent to being adopted.
- Sibling Adoptions: There are no requirements regarding the adoption of siblings.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: There are no requirements regarding care for special needs or medical conditions.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: There is no mandated waiting period.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.
How To Adopt
Palau’s Adoption Authority
There is no specifically designated Palauan authority or agency overseeing adoption procedures. Prospective adoptive parents must petition the court for adoption.
The process for adopting a child from Palau generally includes the following steps:
- Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to be found eligible to adopt
- Be matched with a child
- Adopt [or gain custody of] the child in Palau
- Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
- Bring your child home
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Palau is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.
There are no adoption agencies located in or regularly assisting with adoptions in Palau. The U.S. Embassy in Koror strongly recommends that prospective adoptive parents residing outside of Palau hire a local lawyer residing in Palau.
In order to adopt a child from Palau, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Palau and U.S. immigration law. Prospective adoptive parents must petition the court for adoption. There is no separate authority that supervises adoption.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.
Palau does not have any adoption service providers or agencies, nor does it have the equivalent of a Department of Social Welfare. Prospective adoptive parents must locate a child for adoption on their own. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Palau’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Palau generally includes the following:
- Role of Adoption Authority: There is no centralized adoption authority in Palau. Adoptions are adjudicated by the courts.
- Role of the Court: Prospective adoptive parents must petition the Court of Common Pleas, under the Palau Supreme Court, for adoption. There is no separate authority that supervises adoption. Palauan adoption procedures are very straightforward. The prospective adoptive parents petition the court for adoption, and if the court grants the adoption, the child’s name can be changed and the child may leave the country after receiving a U.S. immigrant visa in a Palauan passport. Despite the apparent simplicity of this process, however, the U.S. Embassy in Koror strongly recommends that prospective adoptive parents residing outside of Palau hire a Palauan lawyer who will be able to investigate and provide to the court any and all relevant information on their background, living environment, and financial status.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no adoption agencies in Palau.
- Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents must petition the court for adoption (see above).
- Time Frame: The U.S. Embassy in Koror, Palau has indicated that Palauan adoptions generally take from one to two months to complete.
- Adoption Fees: Prospective adoptive parents should expect to pay a court filing fee in Palau of 50 USD. Prospective adoptive parents who hire a local attorney to assist in the adoption process will also have to pay attorneys’ fees, which vary. The UAA and the Intercountry Adoption Act (IAA) make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
- Documents Required: Prospective adoptive parents must present the child’s original Palauan birth certificate as well as a letter of relinquishment from the child’s birth parents to the Court of Common Pleas.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
- Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications Office may be able to assist.
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Palau, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.
Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States.
- Birth Certificate: Palau does not issue a new birth certificate effecting the name change after adoption. The court order confirming the adoption serves as the sole evidence for changing the adopted child’s name.
- Palau Passport: Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Palau. Application for a Palauan passport must be made in person to the Palauan Ministry of State. The fee for a Palauan passport is 50 USD. The normal processing time is one week, though expedited services may be request.
- U.S. Immigrant Visa: After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines. 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.
The U.S. Embassy in Koror does not issue immigrant visas. The closest U.S. Embassy to Palau that processes immigrant visas is in Manila, Philippines. You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines’ website.
Adoptive or prospective adoptive parents of Palauan children should contact the U.S. Embassy in Manila as soon as they have identified a Palauan child to adopt, or once they have completed all required Palauan adoption procedures. Families should not travel to Manila prior to contacting the U.S. Embassy in Manila, in the event that the embassy requires additional documentation that the parents must take with them from either Palau or the United States.
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes at least 24 hours. It is not normally possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Manila before making final travel arrangements.
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 Palau
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 Palau, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Citizens and nationals of the United States traveling to Palau must have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of entry. A visa is not required for U.S. citizens visiting Palau for one year or less, provided the visitor otherwise complies with applicable regulations, for example, on employment. For more information about entry requirements to Palau, travelers may consult with the Embassy of Palau. See Contact Information below.
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 Palau, 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
Palau does not have any post-adoption reporting requirements.
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 Palau
The U.S. Embassy in Palau is located in Airai. There is no street address.
Tel: (680) 587-2920
Fax: (680) 587-2911
Embassy of the United States of America
P.O. Box 6028
U.S. Embassy in the Philippines
Embassy of the United States of America
1201 Roxas Blvd.
Ermita, Metro Manila – 1000
Tel: (632) 982-5555 or (632) 902-8930
Embassy of Palau
Embassy of Palau
1701 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006
Tel: (202) 452-6814
Fax: (202) 452-6281
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-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)