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Trinidad and TobagoOfficial Name: Trinidad and Tobago Last Updated: September 23, 2015
Alerts & Notices
No Current Alerts or Notices
Hague Adoption Convention Country? No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between Trinidad and Tobago and the United States possible? Both adoptions to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago and from the United States to Trinidad and Tobago are possible.
Hague Convention Information
Trinidad and Tobago is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). 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.
Please note: There are two ways of gaining custody of a child from Trinidad and Tobago: obtaining an Adoption Order or legal guardianship.
Adoption Order: The first option is to go through the adoption process and obtain an Adoption Order. If the prospective adoptive parent(s) is a resident of Trinidad and Tobago, then the Adoption Board acts as the lead agency in the adoption process. (See Adoption Authority Section below for contact information). If the prospective adoptive parent(s) are not residents of Trinidad and Tobago, they must contact an adoption agency that handles intercountry adoption. Since intercountry adoptions are adjudicated through the High Court and not the Adoption Board, prospective adoptive parents are advised to contact an attorney since these are done through the High Court and not handled by the Adoption Board.
An Adoption Order issued by the Court carries different rights to the adopting parents than Guardianship/custody Order, in the latter cases, the birth parents still retain parental rights. With an Adoption Order the birth parents are required to relinquish their rights.
Legal Guardianship: The second option is to seek legal guardianship of a child from the courts in Trinidad and Tobago for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States. While considerably less burdensome than seeking a formal adoption in Trinidad and Tobago, prospective parents need to keep in mind that legal guardianship is not as secure as an adoption order. Legal guardianship does not provide full parental rights to the adopting party. Legal guardianship is also vulnerable to revocation by the courts if the biological parents or other relatives subsequently petition the courts for a change of guardianship.
U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Trinidad and Tobago, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
Who Can Adopt
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from Trinidad and Tobago must meet the following requirements:
- Residency: Applicant(s) for Adoption Orders should be residents of Trinidad and Tobago and must have residential status proof from Trinidadian immigration authority in order to establish residency. Foreigners may apply to the High Court for an Adoption Order for a child born in Trinidad, Orders are granted in certain limited circumstances as outlined in Adoption of Children Act 2000. This act was amended with an updated definition of the word "court" in 2003.
- Age of Adopting Parents: The adoptive parent(s) must be at least 25 years old and 21 years older than the child they are adopting. Individuals seeking legal guardianship must be at least 25 years old and there is no specification as to an age difference between the guardian and the child.
- Marriage: The government of Trinidad and Tobago allows married couples and single women to adopt. Single men may not adopt. A married couple or unmarried individuals, either male or female, are allowed to gain legal guardianship.
- Income: None Specified
- Other: First preference is given to citizens/nationals of Trinidad and Tobago to adopt a child.
Who Can Be Adopted
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of Trinidad and Tobago:
- Relinquishment: The adoption board confirms consent of the birth parent(s) or current guardian(s) to relinquish custody of the child.
- Abandonment: The adoption board confirms consent of the birth parent(s) or current guardian(s) to relinquish custody of the child.
- Age of Adoptive Child: None Specified. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)).
- Sibling Adoptions: None Specified.
- Special Needs or Medical Conditions: None Specified.
- Waiting Period or Foster Care: The adoption board confirms consent of the birth parent(s) or current guardian(s) to relinquish custody of the child.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are eligible for adoption. 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 the adoption of their child(ren).
How To Adopt
Trinidad and Tobago’s Adoption Authority
The process for adopting a child from Trinidad and Tobago generally includes the following steps:
- Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
- Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)
- Apply to Trinidad and Tobago’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
- Adopt the Child in Trinidad and Tobago [or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption]
- Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan (Form I-600)
- Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider
Before taking steps to adopt a child from Trinidad and Tobago, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. As of July 14, 2014, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA, unless an exception applies. The primary provider is responsible for:
· Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided;
· Supervising and being responsible for supervised providers where used (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
· Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.
For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.
Laws in Trinidad and Tobago make it illegal for any local persons or local agencies other than the Adoption Board and or the Courts to facilitate adoptions. Where persons have a guardianship order, they may still apply for adoption of the child through an international adoption agency, but the Guardianship Order should also include that the child be sent abroad for adoption.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Trinidad and Tobago, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Trinidad and Tobago and U.S. immigration law.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before you identify a child to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Regardless of which approach you take, the home study must meet the same requirements. 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.
3. Apply to Trinidad and Tobago’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law, you must also submit an adoption application to the Adoption Board of Trinidad and Tobago to be found eligible to adopt by Trinidad and Tobago.
For adoptions where the prospective adoptive parents are not residing in Trinidad, an application must be made to the High Court for an adoption order. Local attorneys may be contacted to interpret local adoption laws.
As stated before, there are two ways of gaining custody of a child from Trinidad and Tobago obtaining an Adoption Order or Legal Guardianship. These two options have two separate application processes.
Adoption Order: The local adoption process begins with the prospective adoptive parent(s) filing a formal application that can be obtained only from the Adoption Board. Prospective adoptive parents will have to appear in person in order to obtain these forms. However, if an Order is applied for through the Courts, the attorney drafts the legal documents after taking instruction from their clients and submitting medical reports to the Adoption Board. The Board may request additional documents depending on the circumstances of each case. Prospective adoptive parents will be made aware of additional requirements when they attend the initial interview with the Board. Once the process is initiated, the Board identifies children eligible for adoption.
Legal Guardianship: To gain legal guardianship, the prospective guardians should contact the Clerk of the Peace in their district. The Clerk of the Peace will arrange for the prospective guardian to fill out the necessary forms and will set a court date. The Probation Office, which works with and takes instructions from the court, will also require proof that the prospective guardians are deemed fit (International Social Services certification is acceptable) and investigate the appropriateness of the change in guardianship. All the information will be presented before the Magistrate and the court will make a final decision based on the recommendations from the Probation Office.
If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in Trinidad and Tobago will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, will provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for, a specific child, and must conform to the recommendations in the home study for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Trinidad and Tobago’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
Adoption Order Procedure: Children are typically are referred to the Boar by children's homes and institutions. The Adoption Board confirms consent of the birth parent(s) or current guardian(s) to relinquish custody of the child. The Adoption Board will then grant temporary custody to the prospective adoptive parents. Meanwhile, the Welfare Officers in Trinidad and Tobago complete a home study report to ensure that the adoption will be beneficial to the child. The Adoption Board then reviews all the information and decides whether a probationary period can be granted to the prospective parents. The probationary period is a minimum of six months and is a requirement that must be completed in Trinidad and Tobago in order to bring the case before the courts. The Adoption Board may extend the probationary period if it feels more time is needed in the trial period. During this period the Adoption Board keeps a close supervision of the child and monitors the child's reactions to the new family. At any point during the probationary period, the Adoption Board may terminate the temporary custody if it feels that the child is in a harmful situation. Upon the completion of the probationary period, whether by notice of the Adoption Board or by its expiration, the prospective adoptive parents may apply to the court for an adoption order to finalize the adoption. Once the Court grants an adoption Order, the process is finalized.
Legal Guardianship: The court makes a final decision based on the recommendations from the Probation Office.
4. Adopt the Child in Trinidad and Tobago [or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption]
The process for finalizing the adoption [or obtaining legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption] in Trinidad and Tobago generally includes the following:
· Role of Adoption Authority: The adoption board confirms consent of the birth parent(s) or current guardian(s) to relinquish custody of the child.
· Role of the Court: To seek legal guardianship, the prospective guardians need to contact the Clerk of the Peace through the courts in Trinidad and Tobago.
· Role of Adoption Agencies: Laws in Trinidad and Tobago make it illegal for any local persons or local agencies other than the Adoption Board and/or the Courts to facilitate adoptions. Where persons have a guardianship Order, they may still apply for adoption of the child through an international adoption agency, but the Guardianship Order should also include that the child be sent abroad for adoption.
Starting July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
o Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
o Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
o Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
o Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
o Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
o When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.
· Adoption Application:
Adoption Order - The local adoption process begins with the prospective adoptive parent(s) filing a formal application that can be obtained only from the Adoption Board. Prospective adoptive parents will have to appear in person in order to obtain these forms. However, if an Order is applied for through the Courts, the attorney drafts the legal documents after taking instruction from their clients and submitting medical reports to the Adoption Board. The Board may request additional documents depending on the circumstances of each case.
Legal Guardianship - To gain legal guardianship, prospective guardians should contact the Clerk of the Peace in their district. The Clerk of the Peace will arrange for the prospective guardian to fill out the necessary forms and will set a court date.
· Time Frame: In Trinidad and Tobago, Adoption Orders take more than six months due to the Adoption Board's six-month probation period. Securing legal guardianship can take anywhere from one week to several months depending on the cooperation of the parties and the time availability of the courts.
· Adoption Fees: Adoption in Trinidad and Tobago is free. Payment to anyone, other than an attorney for their legal services, is illegal.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Trinidad and Tobago, with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry. Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Trinidad and Tobago at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the UAA and 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:
o Original certified birth certificates of the prospective adoptive parents and child;
o Certificate of successful immunization record of child issued by the Ministry of Health. (This is obtained from the medical clinics that provide immunization shots to the public. This card details all immunization records for individuals);
o Result of blood test of the prospective adoptive parents and child;
o Result of chest x-ray of the prospective adoptive parents and child;
o Medical fitness examination conducted in Trinidad and Tobago for the prospective adoptive parents;
o Original certified copy of the prospective adoptive parents' marriage certificate (if applicable);
o Original certified death registration of the child's birth parents (if applicable) or consent from the child's birth parents. If the birth parents are alive, they must relinquish rights;
o Photographs in color - one full length and one head and shoulders of applicant(s); and
o Other general forms given by the Adoption Board.
o Current valid photo ID of prospective guardian(s); and
o Original or certified copy of birth certificate of applicants and the child.
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. The U.S Department of State’s Authentications Office has information on the subject.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an
After you finalize the adoption [or gain legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption] in Trinidad and Tobago, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. 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.
If you have an approved, valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S. Embassy in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination), to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.
For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the orphan adoption process. It can take weeks or months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their adopted child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.
6. Apply for a U.S. 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 purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child 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 Trinidad and Tobago, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
If you have been granted legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
Trinidad and Tobago Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Trinidad and Tobago.
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 Port of Spain. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours. It is not usually 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 Port of Spain before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. 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 Department of State’s 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 Trinidad and Tobago
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Trinidad and Tobago, 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 in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, 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 through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Trinidad and Tobago, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
There are no post-adoption requirements for adoption in Trinidad and Tobago.
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. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Port of Spain, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Pageprovides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-600 petition process.
The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry.
U.S. Embassy in Trinidad and Tobago
15 Queen’s Park West
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Tel: 868-622-6371 (through 6)
Trinidad and Tobago’s Adoption Authority
55-57 St. Vincent Street
Port of Spain, Trinidad
The Adoption Board is not responsible for legal guardianship cases. To seek legal guardianship, the prospective guardians need to contact the Clerk of the Peace through the courts in Trinidad and Tobago.
3 rd Floor ANSA House
Corner of Queen and Henry Streets
Port of Spain, Trinidad
Embassy of Trinidad and Tobago
1708 Massachusetts Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Trinidad and Tobago also has consulates in Miami, FL and New York, NY.
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)