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CSI Country Catalog

El Salvador

Flag_of_El_Salvador
Country
Country Name: El Salvador
Official Country Name: Republic of El Salvador
Country Code 2-Letters: SV
Country Code 3-Letters: SLV
Street: Final Blvd Santa Elena Sur,
Urbanizacion Santa Elena,
Antiguo Cuscatlan,
La Libertad
San Salvador, El Salvador
Fact sheet: https://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2033.htm
  • International Travel
  • Child Abductions
  • Intercountry Adoptions
  • Consular Notification
  • U.S. Visas
  • Contact
  • Quick Facts
  • Embassies and Consulates
  • Destination Description
  • Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements
  • Safety and Security
  • Local Laws & Special Circumstances
  • Health
  • Travel & Transportation
Contact
Embassy Name: U.S. Embassy San Salvador
Street Address: Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur,
Urbanizacion Santa Elena,
Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad
San Salvador, El Salvador
Phone: +(503) 2501-2999
Emergency Phone: +(503) 2501-2999
Fax: +(503) 2278-5522
Email: ACSSanSal@state.gov
Web: https://sv.usembassy.gov/embassy/san-salvador/

Embassy Messages

Map
Country Map
Quick Facts
Passport Validity:


Passport must be valid at time of entry


Blank Passport Pages:


At least one blank page


Tourist Visa Required:


No, a visa is not required. But you must purchase a tourist card for 10 USD upon arrival. The card is valid for 90 days. If your U.S. passport shows you were born in El Salvador, you do not need the tourist card


Vaccinations:


None, check recommendation in Health Section


Currency Restrictions for Entry:


Currency in excess of 10,000 USD must be declared


Currency Restrictions for Exit:


Currency in excess of 10,000 USD must be declared

Embassies and Consulates

U.S. Embassy San Salvador

Final Boulevard Santa Elena Sur,
Urbanizacion Santa Elena,
Antiguo Cuscatlan, La Libertad
San Salvador, El Salvador
Telephone:
+(503) 2501-2999
Emergency After-Hours Telephone: +(503) 2501-2999
Fax: +(503) 2278-5522
ACSSanSal@state.gov

Destination Description

See the Department of State’s Fact Sheet on El Salvador for information on U.S. - El Salvador Relations.

Entry, Exit & Visa Requirements

You need a passport and either a Salvadoran visa or a one-entry tourist card to enter El Salvador.

  • You may obtain a tourist card when you arrive at the airport or seaport from immigration officials for a $10 fee. The card is valid for 90 days.
  • If you plan to remain in El Salvador for more than 90 days, you must apply in advance for a multiple-entry visa, issued free of charge, from the Embassy of El Salvador in Washington, D.C. or from one of the 17 Salvadoran consulates in the United States.

In June 2006, El Salvador entered into the “Central America-4 (CA-4) Border Control Agreement” with Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Under that agreement, U.S. citizens who legally enter any of those four countries may travel freely among the other three countries for up to 90 days.

If you wish to remain in the CA-4 region for more than 90 days, you must request a one-time extension from local immigration authorities in the country where you are present. If you are, “expelled” from one of the four countries, you are expelled from the entire CA-4 region.

Minors: A U.S. citizen minor present in El Salvador for more than 180 days is considered a resident of El Salvador. To depart El Salvador, a minor resident needs written consent from any parent not traveling with the minor. The process to obtain parental travel consent that is accepted by Salvadoran immigration can be lengthy. Plan ahead if you intend to have your minor child travel without both parents.

HIV/AIDS Restrictions: The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any specific HIV/AIDS entry restrictions or regulations for visitors or for foreign residents of El Salvador. Antiretroviral medication with a prescription can be imported for personal use and for the duration of stay. 

Dual Nationality and International Parental Child Abduction: Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website.

Customs: For information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.

Volunteers, Mission Groups, and Non-Profits: Groups bringing donated supplies, equipment, or medicine may experience difficulties with customs. To avoid potential problems, clear all donated material with the appropriate Salvadoran government office before arriving in El Salvador.

Safety and Security

The crime threat level in El Salvador is critical and the Travel Advisory warns U.S. citizens of the high rates of crime and violence. See below for additional information on crime.

Dial 911 for emergency assistance in El Salvador.

Swimming: Strong undertows and currents make swimming at El Salvador's Pacific Coast beaches extremely dangerous even for experienced swimmers. Since 2008, 16 U.S. citizens have drowned while swimming in Salvadoran waters. Lifeguards are not always present at beaches and lakes. In addition, El Salvador’s search and rescue capabilities are limited, and access to medical resources in these areas is inadequate.

Protests: Demonstrations, sit-ins, and protests may occur at any time or place, but are most frequent in and around the capital San Salvador. Avoid demonstrations. Even peaceful demonstrations may turn violent. Follow local news media reports or contact the U.S. Embassy for up-to-date information.

CRIME: El Salvador has one of the highest homicide levels in the world and crimes such as extortion, assault and robbery are common. Since January 2010, 50 U.S. citizens have been murdered in El Salvador. During the same time period, 562 U.S. citizens reported having their passports stolen, while others were victims of violent crimes.

Typical crimes in El Salvador include extortion, mugging, highway assault, home invasion, and car theft. Assaults against police officers are on the rise. Shootouts between rival criminal gangs and between police and criminal gangs are common. Home invasions and/or burglaries of residences during broad daylight occur in affluent residential neighborhoods in San Salvador. Some of these home invasions are committed by individuals posing as deliverymen or as police officers.

Exercise caution at all times and practice good personal security procedures throughout your stay.  

  • Always travel in groups.
  • Avoid remote or isolated locations.
  • Avoid displaying or carrying valuables in public places.
  • Never leave passports and other important documents in vehicles.
  • U.S. Embassy personnel are advised not to walk, run, or cycle in the unguarded streets and parks of El Salvador, even in groups. Exercise only in gyms and fitness centers. Do not travel on public transportation, especially buses. Use only radio-dispatched taxis or those stationed in front of major hotels.
  • Be vigilant while visiting banks or using ATMs.
  • Remain vigilant even in well-known restaurants, hotels, and retailers within San Salvador.
  • Credit card cloning and similar fraud is common. Do not let your credit card out of your sight.
  • Armed holdups of vehicles traveling on El Salvador's roads are common.
  • Drive with your doors locked and windows raised.
  • Avoid travel outside of major metropolitan areas after dark and on unpaved roads at all times because of criminal assaults and lack of police and road service facilities.
  • Be aware that criminals may follow travelers from the El Salvador International Airport to private residences or secluded stretches of road where they carry out assaults and robberies. Armed robbers are known to shoot if the vehicle does not come to a stop.
  • Travelers with conspicuous amounts of luggage, late-model cars, or foreign license plates are particularly vulnerable to crime.

Armed robberies of climbers and hikers in El Salvador’s national parks are common. Engage the services of a local guide certified by the national or local tourist authority when hiking in back-country areas and within the national parks  The tourist police force (POLITUR) provides security and assistance to tourists. Officers are located in 19 tourist destinations.

A majority of serious crimes in El Salvador are never solved; only 7 of the 50 murders of U.S. citizens since January 2010 have resulted in convictions. The Government of El Salvador lacks sufficient resources to properly investigate and prosecute cases and to deter violent crime.

El Salvador has thousands of known gang members from several gangs including Mara Salvatrucha (MS-13) and 18th Street (M18). Gang members engage in violence or use deadly force if resisted. These “maras” concentrate on extortion, violent street crime, car-jacking, narcotics and arms trafficking, and murder for hire. Extortion is a common crime in El Salvador. U.S. citizens who visit El Salvador for extended periods are at higher risk for extortion demands.

Do not purchase counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are counterfeit goods illegal in the United States -- if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.

VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes a victim of crime, report it to the local police by calling 911 and to the U.S. Embassy. Local authorities are responsible for investigating and prosecuting the crime.

The U.S. Embassy can :

  • replace a stolen or lost passport
  • help you find appropriate medical care
  • guide you on how to report a crime to police
  • contact relatives or friends with your written consent
  • explain the local criminal justice process in general terms
  • provide a list of local attorneys
  • provide information on victim’s compensation programs in the U.S.
  • provide an emergency loan for repatriation to the United States and/or limited medical support in cases of destitution
  • help you find accommodation and arrange flights home

Domestic Violence: U.S. citizen victims of domestic violence may contact the U.S. Embassy for assistance. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.

To stay connected:

Local Laws & Special Circumstances

CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in El Salvador, you are subject to local law. Your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest. Remember your activities are limited by the type of visa you have. If you violate Salvadoran laws you may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in El Salvador are severe. Convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Some offenses committed overseas can be prosecuted in the United States, regardless of local law. For examples, see the U.S. Department of State website and the Department of Justice website on crimes against minors abroad.  

Arrest Notification: If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately.

Prison and detention center conditions in El Salvador are harsh and dangerous. Overcrowding constitutes a serious threat to prisoners’ health and lives. In many facilities, provisions for sanitation, potable water, ventilation, temperature control, and lighting are inadequate or nonexistent.

Guns: You must have a locally obtained license to possess or carry a firearm in El Salvador.  Convictions for possessing an unlicensed firearm can carry a prison sentence of three to five years. The U.S. Embassy cannot intervene on your behalf.

Disaster Preparedness: Preparation for natural disasters is essential in El Salvador, which has six active volcanoes, constant seism activities and a rainy season that produces severe flooding and mudslides.

Find information about natural disaster preparedness on the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) website. Find information in Spanish about earthquakes (sismos) and other natural disasters in El Salvador on the Government of El Salvador’s web page. Learn more on our Natural Disasters webpage.

WOMEN TRAVELER INFORMATION: If you are a woman traveling abroad, please review our travel tips for Women Travelers.

LGBTI RIGHTS: There are no legal restrictions on same-sex sexual relations or the organization of LGBTI events in El Salvador. There is, however, widespread discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment, access to health care, and identity documents. Public officials, including the police, have reportedly engaged in violence and discrimination against LGBTI persons. For more detailed information about LGBTI rights in El Salvador, you may review the State Department’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2016. For further information on Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) travel, please read our LGBTI Travel Information page.

ACCESSIBILITY: Salvadoran law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other state services. However, the government does not allocate sufficient resources to enforce these prohibitions effectively. There are few access ramps or provisions for the mobility of persons with sight and hearing disabilities.

Health

Private and public hospitals do not meet U.S. commonly-accepted standards. The U.S. Embassy recommends that private hospitals be used only for emergency care to stabilize a condition prior to returning to the United States for definitive evaluation and treatment. Private hospitals and physicians expect up-front payment (cash or credit card). They do not bill U.S. insurance companies.

The Department of State does not pay medical bills. U.S. Medicare does not apply overseas.

Medical Insurance: Make sure your health insurance plan provides coverage overseas. Most care providers overseas only accept cash payments. See our webpage for more information on insurance providers for overseas coverage.

We strongly recommend supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

If traveling with prescription medication, check with the Government of El Salvador to ensure the medication is legal in El Salvador. Always carry your prescription medication in original packaging with your doctor’s prescription.

The following diseases are prevalent:

Vaccinations: All routinely recommended immunizations for the U.S. should be up-to-date.

Tuberculosis is an increasingly serious health concern in El Salvador. For further information, please consult the CDC’s information on Tuberculosis.

You can find detailed information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the following websites:

Travel & Transportation

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS:

Major highways in El Salvador are among the best in Central America, but road conditions throughout El Salvador are not up to U.S. standards. Even within the city of San Salvador, it is common to see missing manhole covers and large objects in the roadway marking the danger.

Avoid driving during nighttime hours or periods of low visibility. Mini-buses, regular buses, and taxis are poorly maintained. Drivers are frequently unlicensed and generally do not adhere to traffic rules and regulations. 

Traffic Laws: Drive defensively as traffic laws are not enforced. Passing on blind corners or cutting across several lanes of traffic is commonplace. Two lane traffic circles are common and are especially dangerous to navigate.

If you are in an accident, call the police and do not leave the scene. The law requires all parties involved in a vehicle accident to stay at the scene until the police respond. Hit and run accidents are common. Salvadoran law requires that the driver of a vehicle that injures or kills another person must be arrested and detained until a judge can determine responsibility.

You may drive with a U.S. driver’s license for up to 30 days. After that time, you must obtain a Salvadoran license.

If you want to apply for a Salvadoran driver’s license, you must present an authenticated copy of your U.S. driver’s license to Salvadoran autorities. Requests for an apostille or authentication certificate are generally submitted in writing to your state’s Notary commissioning authority (usually the Secretary of State’s office.)

Public Transportation: Please refer to our Road Safety page for more information. Visit the website of El Salvador’s national tourist office and the national authority responsible for road safety. Further information on traffic and road conditions is available in Spanish from Automovil Club de El Salvador (ACES).

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT:  The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of El Salvador’s Civil Aviation Authority as being in compliance with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of El Salvador’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.

Foreign Consular Office Contact Information
Use "Heading 1" for city name. Use "Heading 2" for phone number. Use "Heading 3" for fax number. Emails will automatically be set with an email icon.

Washington, DC (202) 595-7500 (202) 337-4032

Atlanta, GA (770) 591-4140 (770) 591-4160

Boston, MA (617) 567-8338 (617) 567-8686

Brentwood, Long Island, NY (631) 273-1355 (631) 273-2256 (631) 273-2430

Chicago, IL (312) 332-1393 (312) 578-5390 (312) 332-4446

Dallas, TX (214) 637-1500 (214) 637-1501 (214) 637-1511 (214) 637-1106

Elizabeth, NJ (908) 820-0766 (908) 820-0866

Kansas City, MO (816) 941-6648

Las Vegas, NV (702) 437-5337 (702) 437-5339 (702) 437-5340 (702) 437-5336

Los Angeles, CA (213) 383-8364 (213) 383-5776 (213) 383-8580

Miami, FL (305) 592-6978 (305) 592-6981

New York, NY (212) 889-3608 (212) 679-2835

San Francisco, CA (415) 771-8524 (415) 771-8530 (415) 771-8531 (415) 771-8522

Seattle, WA (206) 971-7950

Tampa, FL (727) 460-3937

Woodbridge, VA (703) 490-4300 extensions 114 and 110(703) 490-4463

  • General Information
  • Hague Abduction Convention
  • Return
  • Visitation/Access
  • Retaining an Attorney
  • Mediation
Hague Questions | Learn More Links
Party to the Hague Abduction Convention? Yes
U.S. Treaty Partner under the Hague Abduction Convention? Yes
Learn why the Hague Abduction Convention Matters: /content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/laws/important-feat-hague-abdtn-conv.html

General Information

El Salvador and the United States have been treaty partners under the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (Hague Abduction Convention) since June 1, 2007.

For information concerning travel to El Salvador, including information about the location of the U.S. Embassy, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, entry/exit requirements, safety and security, crime, medical facilities and health information, traffic safety, road conditions and aviation safety, please see country-specific information for El Salvador. 

The U.S. Department of State reports statistics and compliance information for individual countries in the Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA).  The report is located here.

 

Hague Abduction Convention

The U.S. Department of State serves as the U.S. Central Authority (USCA) for the Hague Abduction Convention.  In this capacity, the Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs, Directorate for Overseas Citizens Services, Office of Children's Issues facilitates the submission of applications under the Hague Abduction Convention for the return of, or access to, children located in countries that are U.S. treaty partners, including El Salvador.  Parents are strongly encouraged to contact the Department of State for assistance prior to initiating the Hague process directly with the foreign Central Authority.

Contact information:

U.S. Department of State 
Bureau of Consular Affairs
Office of Children's
CA/OCS/CI 
SA-17, 9th Floor 
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Telephone:  1-888-407-4747
Outside the United States or Canada: 1-202-501-4444
Website:  travel.state.gov

The El Salvadoran Central Authority for the Hague Abduction Convention is the Procuradur's General de la Republica (PGR).  PGR is responsible for carrying out El Salvador's obligations under the Convention and processing Hague Abduction Convention applications.

They can be reached at:

Procuradur's a General de la Republica
Novena Calle Poniente, Torre PGR Centro de Gobierno,  San Salvador
Telephone (switchboard):  +(503) 2231-9346
Website

To initiate a Hague case for return of, or access to, a child in El Salvador, the left-behind parent must submit a Hague application to the El Salvadoran Central Authority (ECA), either directly to the ECA, or through the U.S. Central Authority (USCA).  The USCA is available to answer questions about the Hague application process, to forward a completed application to the PGR, and to subsequently monitor its progress through the foreign administrative and legal processes. 

There are no fees for filing Hague applications with either the United States or El Salvador central authorities.  After the case is filed and accepted with the ECA, the ECA assigns an attorney to represent the Hague Convention application during the Hague judicial process in El Salvador, at no cost.  It is important to note that the attorney does not represent either parent's interests; rather, the attorney represents the Hague Convention application.  However, the parent(s) may be responsible for additional costs, including but not limited to airplane tickets for court appearances and for the return of the child, if so ordered.

Return

A parent or legal guardian may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for return to the United States of a child abducted to, or wrongfully retained in, El Salvador.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand whether the Convention is an available civil remedy and can provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

Visitation/Access

A person may file an application under the Hague Abduction Convention for access to a child living in El Salvador.  The criteria for acceptance of a Hague access application vary from country to country.  The U.S. Department of State can assist parents living in the United States to understand country-specific criteria and provide information on the process for submitting a Hague application.

Retaining an Attorney

Retaining a private attorney is not required in order to submit Hague Convention applications to a court in El Salvador. The ECA assigns an attorney to represent the Hague Abduction Convention application; the attorney also provides information to the court. While not required, a parent may choose to hire a private attorney to represent his/her interests in the case. If a parent retains a private attorney, the attorney should contact the ECA as soon as possible after the filing of the Hague Abduction Convention application. 

The U.S. Embassy in San Salvador, El Salvador posts list of attorneys including those who specialize in family law.

This list is provided as a courtesy service only and does not constitute an endorsement of any individual attorney. The Department of State assumes no responsibility or liability for the professional ability or reputation of, or the quality of services provided by, the persons or firms included in this list. Professional credentials and areas of expertise are provided directly by the lawyers.

Mediation

The ECA offers mediation at no cost to either party in Hague abduction cases before they enter the judicial stage.  At the beginning of the judicial stage, the family judge may also seek to mediate a pre-trial solution. Additionally, interested parties may contact the Attorney General's office or municipal authorities in El Salvador to seek their assistance in mediating a pre-trial solution. These various types of pre-trial mediation have resulted in resolutions to cases, including several returns of children to the United States since 2009.

  • Hague
  • Hague Convention Information
  • U.S. Immigration Requirements
  • Who Can Adopt
  • Who Can Be Adopted
  • How To Adopt
  • Traveling Abroad
  • After Adoption
  • Contact Information
Hague Questions
Hague Adoption Convention Country? Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible? Intercountry adoptions to the United States from El Salvador and from the United States to El Salvador are possible.
Is this country a U.S. Hague Partner? Yes
Hague Convention Information

Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting a child from the United States. We urge prospective adoptive parents residing abroad who are considering adoption of a child from the United States to consult with the El Salvador’s Central Authority, Oficina Para Adopciones, for its determination as to whether it considers your adoption to be subject to the Convention.

El Salvador is a 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 must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption 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 El Salvador.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from El Salvador, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. USCIS determines who is suitable and eligible to 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 a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration 

U.S. Immigration Requirements For Intercountry Adoptions

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Who Can Adopt

In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from El Salvador must meet the following requirements imposed by El Salvador:

  • Minimum Residency: Under Article 176 of the Salvadoran Family Code, adoptive parents who reside in El Salvador and who wish to adopt a child not related to them must reside with the child in El Salvador for at least one year prior to the finalization of the adoption. To satisfy this requirement, the adoptive parent(s) must be appointed as the foster parent(s) or guardian(s) of the child, subject to approval by the Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Children and Adolescents (ISNA), and prior to the start of the one-year co-residency period. Prospective adoptive parents who claim a residence other than El Salvador are exempt from the one-year cohabitation requirement. 
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be older than 25 years old or older than 18 years old if they have been married for more than three years. Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the child and not more than 45 years older.
  • Marriage: If it is a joint adoption, the prospective adoptive parents must have at least three years of marriage or declared civil union.
  • Minimum Income: None.
  • Other requirements: In El Salvador, the Prospective Adoptive parents can follow individual or joint adoptions. Joint adoption can only be done by married couples made up of a man and a woman who each were born in accordance with their present gender. Individual adoption may be requested by any person with the ability to adopt, regardless of their family status.

Who Can Be Adopted

Because El Salvador is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from El Salvador must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of El Salvador have determined that placement of the child within El Salvador has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.

In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements imposed by El Salvador:

  • Eligibility for adoption: Salvadoran Law states that a child less than 18 years of age may be eligible for international adoption if the child is abandoned, orphaned, whose mother or father have been declared legally incapable due to a chronic or incurable mental illness, and/or when a family court determines that the adoption is in the best interest of the child.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Salvadoran Law permits adoptions of children over the age of 18 in certain cases. Please note that for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee 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 meets the age and other requirements to immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.

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 possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have not relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).

How To Adopt

Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in El Salvador before: 1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) the Central Authority of El Salvador has determined the child is available for intercountry adoption, 3) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 4) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

El Salvador’s Central Adoption Authority

El Salvador has officially designated the Procuraduria General de la Republica (PGR or National Public Defender’s Office) as its Central Adoption Authority. The Oficina Para Adopciones (Office of Adoptions, or OPA) is the office within the PGR that coordinates and oversees and local adoptions in El Salvador. Other Salvadoran governmental bodies are also involved in the adoption process. These include the Family Courts, the National Council for Children and Adolescents (CONNA) and the Salvadoran Institute for the Development of Children and Adolescents (ISNA). 

The Process

Because El Salvador is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from El Salvador must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may cause significant delays or result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.

  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider To Act as Your Primary Provider that has been authorized by El Salvador’s Central Authority to operate in El Salvador.
  2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
  3. Apply to El Salvador’s Authorities to Adopt, and Be Matched with a Child
  4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
  5. Adopt the Child in El Salvador.
  6. 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 to Act as Your Primary Provider that has been authorized by El Salvador’s Central Authority to operate in El Salvador.

The first step in adopting a child from El Salvador is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide intercountry adoption services to U.S. citizens and that has been authorized by El Salvador’s Central Authority to operate in El Salvador. A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services in your case, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case. Your primary provider is responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
  • Supervising and being responsible for any supervised providers, and otherwise complying with the requirements regarding the provision of adoption services using other providers (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. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt

In order to adopt a child from El Salvador, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of El Salvador and U.S. immigration law.

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, provide biometrics, and cooperate in a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements. Unless an exception applies, the home study must be prepared by a person who is authorized under 22 CFR 96 to prepare home studies and must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311.

3. Apply to El Salvador’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child

Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority

After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in El Salvador as part of your adoption application. El Salvador’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under El Salvador’s law.

Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority

If both the United States and El Salvador determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and El Salvador’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is eligible for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in El Salvador may provide you with a referral. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in El Salvador will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral. We encourage families to consider consulting with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but you must decide for yourself whether you will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for a specific child. You must also adhere to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS with respect to the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in El Salvador. Learn more about this critical decision.

The adoption of children with special needs is a top priority for the Salvadoran Central Authority. Prospective adoptive parents must pass a suitability review to ensure they are able to care for a child with special needs.

Also, the Salvadoran Central Authority makes an effort to keep biological siblings together whenever possible. If the children are abandoned in different municipalities, however, biological siblings may be adopted by different families without the Central Authority’s knowledge.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility

After you accept being matched with a particular child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to be admitted to the United States.

Submit an Immigrant Visa Application

After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from El Salvador.

You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (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. 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. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.

The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to El Salvador’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from El Salvador if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform El Salvador’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Warning: Do not attempt to adopt of a child in El Salvador before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5 Letter” for your 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 the Child in El Salvador

Remember: Before you adopt a child in El Salvador, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption

The process for finalizing the adoption in El Salvador generally includes the following:

  • Role of [Adoption Authority or Competent Authority]: In El Salvador, the Central Authority is the Oficina Para Adopciones (OPA in Spanish). OPA will review the adoption petition and supporting documents to ensure that they fulfill all legal requirements established by the Salvadoran law. OPA is in charge of reviewing the home studies done by the Adoption Service Providers (ASPs) in the U.S. After the review of these studies, the Salvadoran Central Authority will declare the Prospective Adoptive Parents suitable to adopt. Also, OPA is in charge of matching a family with a child according to the child’s best interests. This part is the most complex and lengthiest in the Salvadoran Adoption Process. The U.S. Embassy recommends calling, emailing or even visiting OPA on a regular basis during the process.
  • Role of the Court: After the Central Authority of El Salvador administratively approves the adoption, the Prospective Adoptive Parents must submit the adoption request to the Salvadoran Family Court. The Judge will issue a final adoption decree that adoptive parents will need in order to obtain the child’s new birth certificate and passport with the child’s new surname. The time to obtain new civil documents varies in different regions of the country and can take anywhere from 72 hours to two weeks depending on the judge. The adoption is not finalized until the adoption is approved by the Family Court. The court is also responsible for the legal relinquishment or revocation of parental rights; and in some cases, this does not occur until after the child has been matched with a family for adoption.
  • Role of Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Providers: The adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that home studies are completed. They are also responsible for assisting prospective adoptive parents by providing the required documentation to the Salvadoran government, including documentation that goes to the family court judges. The adoption service provider must also have a legal representative in El Salvador and should regularly communicate with the U.S. Embassy’s Consular Section to ensure consistency with the Hague process.

Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services in your case, 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 intercountry adoption case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:

  1. Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
  2. Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
  3. Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
  4. Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
  5. Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
  6. 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: The Salvadoran law requires that the adoption application must be submitted by a lawyer acting as legal representative of the Prospective Adoptive Parents. The prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to travel to El Salvador regularly as their physical presence will be required throughout the adoption process.
  • Time Frame: Intercountry adoptions in El Salvador may take approximately two to four years to be completed. There are some cases that might take even longer. In most adoption cases, custody is not given to the parents before the adoption is finalized. There is no specific timeframe for custody to be granted, it depends on the special circumstances of each child. The process to finalized the adoption in court usually takes between three to six months. After the Family Court issues the final adoption decree, the court informs the Registry to cancel the old birth certificate, and orders for a new one to be made. After the court approves the adoption process, the parents may take the child out of the country without any additional authorization from Salvadoran authorities.

 

  • Adoption Fees: The Salvadoran Central Authority currently does not charge any fees for their administrative services. Prospective adoptive parents may choose to retain a Salvadoran attorney to assist with an adoption and will be charged for those services by the attorney. We advise prospective adoptive parents to discuss options with their adoption service provider.


It should be noted that once the adoption has been completed, the parents must pay for the new birth certificate, varying between $3.50 and $5.00. Also, they must pay the value of the new Salvadoran passport ($25.00). Finally, parents must pay the costs of the U.S. immigrant visa ($325.00) and visa medical exams ($500.00)

We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of El Salvador, with your adoption service provider, and, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. Improper payments violate applicable law or create the appearance of buying a child, and could put all future adoptions in El Salvador at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the IAA makes certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement by way of compensation intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing functions as a competent central authority, or to engage another person as an agent to take any such action.

In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your adoption service provider will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.

Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from El Salvador include:

  • Salvadoran Attorney's Fee – Typically $3,000–$10,000
  • Medical Exam for the Child – Costs generally may run between $450–$600 (includes vaccinations for all children; includes x-rays for children between 14–16)
  • U.S. Immigrant Visa - $325.00
  • Birth Certificate – Typically between $3.50–$5.00
  • Salvadoran passport fee - $25.00
  • Photos for U.S. Immigrant Visa - $5.00 (for two photos)
  • Documents Required:
    • Original birth certificates for each of the adopting parents
    • Original marriage certificate, if applicable
    • Divorce or Death decree, if applicable
    • Police clearance from the adopting parents’ state
    • Financial statements
    • Home study certification
    • Health certificate for the adopting parents
    • Certification stating that the adopting parents meet the legal requirements of their home state to adopt and that the state will monitor the welfare of the child after adoption
    • Commitment to post-adoption monitoring granted by central authority, agencies accredited or public authority of the receiving state, in accordance with the provisions of this Law and the Convention on the Protection of Children and Cooperation in International Adoption Matter
    • Certified copies of the adopting parents’ passports
    • Certified copies of birth and health certificates for any other biological or adopted children that are under twelve years old in the family
    • Photographs of the exterior and interior of the adopting parents’ home
    • Photocopy of the identity card of the Salvadoran attorney
    • Power of attorney for a specified Salvadoran attorney to represent the adopting parents, which must be executed before a Salvadoran notary public or by Salvadoran Consul at a Salvadoran Embassy or Consulate. This power of attorney must specifically authorize the attorney to perform all necessary steps in the adoption process from beginning to end before the Public Defender’s Office (PGR).

The designated Salvadoran lawyer must present two files of all the documentation (one with originals, and the other with certified copies). Each of the U.S. documents listed here must be either authenticated at a Salvadoran Embassy, or a Salvadoran Consulate, or apostilled by the competent authority of the adopting parents’ country (see below). U.S. documents listed below must also be translated into Spanish by an individual appointed for that purpose by a Salvadoran notary public.

Additional documents required if the adoption is for a predetermined child.

  • Original and recent birth certificate of the child
  • Health certificate for the child to be adopted
  • Original death certificate of the biological mother or father of the child, if applicable
  • Certified copy of the court resolution that place the child under the judicial measure of pre-adoptive family, if applicable
  • Certified copy of the court resolution that gave custody of the child to the prospective adoptive parents, if applicable
  • Original birth certificate of the biological mother or father who has been declared incapable
  • Certification extended by the Attorney General's Office on the declaration of unknown whereabouts of the mother or father, in accordance with the provisions of this Law

Note: Additional documents may be requested.

Authentication of Documents:

The United States and El Salvador are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority

6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home

Once your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate

You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child.

If you have finalized the adoption in El Salvador, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child.

Once the court issues a final adoption decree, municipal authorities will cancel the original birth certificate and issue a new birth certificate naming the adoptive parents as the child’s parents and showing the change to the child’s name. The new birth certificate becomes part of the record kept at city hall/the mayor’s office.

Birth certificates are issued by the Public Registry (Registro Civil) of the city or village where the adoptee lives. Requests should be addressed to "Alcaldia Municipal de Registro Civil (name of city or village)”. The average cost of obtaining a birth certificate is $3.50.

A new birth certificate of the child must be presented to OPA in order to carry out the post-adoptive follow-up.

El Salvador Passport

Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from El Salvador.

Passports are issued by the Direccion General de Migracion y Extranjeria (DGME). Adoptive parents can apply for their child’s passport by submitting the final adoption decree and newly issued birth certificate at the most convenient DGME office. The cost for this service is $25. For office locations, please visit http://www.migracion.gob.sv/sucursales/

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child you need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador. After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador by email at adoptsansal@state.gov to receive instructions on how to proceed for your child’s immigrant visa appointment. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the Form I-800 provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

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). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 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. You 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 confirmation page to the visa interview. Review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.

Upon receipt of the case at post, the Consular Section generally notifies the petitioner. 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. You should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in San Salvador before making final travel arrangements. Additional information on immigrant visa processing can be found on our website.

Child Citizenship Act

For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s admission 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 admission into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including that the child is under the age of eighteen.

For adoptions finalized after the child’s admission into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s admission 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.

Traveling Abroad

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 acquires U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for 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 El Salvador

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 El Salvador, 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 abroad 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 El Salvador, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in El Salvador, 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).

After Adoption

El Salvador requires post-adoption reports. The Oficina Para Adopciones is required by law to follow up on the adoptee’s situation through the Central Authority or accredited body every four months for a period of three years after the adoption is finalized. We urge you to comply with El Salvador’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to El Salvador’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.

Post-Adoption Resources

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. You may wish to 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.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a website, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, which can be a useful resource to get you started on your support group search.

Complaints 

If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in San Salvador, 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 Page provides 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-800/A petition process.

The Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about the compliance of U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers with U.S. accreditation standards. If you think your provider's conduct may not have been in 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 Complaint Registry

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in El Salvador
Final Boulevard y Urb. Santa Elena
Antiguo Cuscatlán, La Libertad
Tel. (503) 2501-2999
Fax: (503) 2278-6020
E-mail: AdoptSanSal@state.gov
Internet: sv.usembassy.gov

El Salvador’s Adoption Authority
Procuraduría General de la República
9ª. Calle Poniente y 13 Ave. Norte, Torre PGR,
Centro de Gobierno
San Salvador, El Salvador
Tel: (503) 2231-9418 / (503)2231-9424 
Internet: pgr.gob.sv/ado.html

Embassy of El Salvador
1400 16th Street, Suite 100, N.W.
Washington, D.C, 20036
Tel: (202) 595-7500
Fax: (202) 232 3763
Email: correo@elsalvador.org
Internet: http://www.elsalvador.org/

*El Salvador also has consulates in: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Elizabeth (NJ), Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Santa Ana (CA), Woodbridge (VA), Duluth (GA), Miami, New York, Long Island (NY), Nogales (AZ), San Francisco, and Washington, DC. Contact information for these consulates can be found at the web site listed above.

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State  
CA/OCS/CI  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  Adoption@state.gov    
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC)
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480(local)
Fax: 1-914-214-5808
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

  • Visa Classifications
  • General Documents | Birth, Death, Burial Certificates | Marriage, Divorce Certificates
  • Adoption Certificates | Identity Card | Police, Court, Prison Records | Military Records
  • Passports & Other Travel Documents | Other Records | Visa Issuing Posts | Visa Services
Classifications
Visa Classifications

Visa
Classification
Fee Number
of Entries
Validity
Period
A-1 None Multiple 60 Months
A-2 None Multiple 60 Months
A-3 1 None Multiple 24 Months
B-1 None Multiple 120 Months
B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
B-1/B-2 None Multiple 120 Months
C-1 None Multiple 60 Months
C-1/D None Multiple 60 Months
C-2 None Multiple 12 Months
C-3 None Multiple 60 Months
CW-1 11 None Multiple 12 Months
CW-2 11 None Multiple 12 Months
D None Multiple 60 Months
E-1 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2 2 No Treaty N/A N/A
E-2C 12 None Multiple 24 Months
F-1 None Multiple 60 Months
F-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-1 None Multiple 60 Months
G-2 None Multiple 60 Months
G-3 None One 12 Months
G-4 None Multiple 60 Months
G-5 1 None Multiple 24 Months
H-1B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-1C None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2A None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2B None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-2R None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
H-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
I None Multiple 60 Months
J-1 4 None Multiple 60 Months
J-2 4 None Multiple 60 Months
K-1 None One 6 Months
K-2 None One 6 Months
K-3 None Multiple 24 Months
K-4 None Multiple 24 Months
L-1 None Multiple 60 Months
L-2 None Multiple 60 Months
M-1 None Multiple 60 Months
M-2 None Multiple 60 Months
N-8 None Multiple 60 Months
N-9 None Multiple 60 Months
NATO 1-7 N/A N/A N/A
O-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
O-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-1 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-2 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-3 None Multiple 60 Months 3
P-4 None Multiple 60 Months 3
Q-1 6 None Multiple 15 Months 3
R-1 None Multiple 60 Months
R-2 None Multiple 60 Months
S-5 7 None One 1 Month
S-6 7 None One 1 Month
S-7 7 None One 1 Month
T-1 9 N/A N/A N/A
T-2 None One 6 Months
T-3 None One 6 Months
T-4 None One 6 Months
T-5 None One 6 Months
T-6 None One 6 Months
TD 5 N/A N/A N/A
U-1 None Multiple 48 Months
U-2 None Multiple 48 Months
U-3 None Multiple 48 Months
U-4 None Multiple 48 Months
U-5 None Multiple 48 Months
V-1 None Multiple 120 Months
V-2 None Multiple 120 Months 8
V-3 None Multiple 120 Months 8

Country Specific Footnotes

Although care has been taken to ensure the accuracy, completeness and reliability of the information provided, please contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you plan to apply if you believe this information is in error or if you have further questions.

Visa Category Footnotes

  1. The validity of A-3, G-5, and NATO 7 visas may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the person who is employing the applicant. The "employer" would have one of the following visa classifications:

    • A-1
    • A-2
    • G-1 through G-4
    • NATO 1 through NATO 6

  2. An E-1 and E-2 visa may be issued only to a principal alien who is a national of a country having a treaty, or its equivalent, with the United States. E-1 and E-2 visas may not be issued to a principal alien if he/she is a stateless resident. The spouse and children of an E-1 or E-2 principal alien are accorded derivative E-1 or E-2 status following the reciprocity schedule, including any reciprocity fees, of the principle alien’s country of nationality.  

    Example: John Doe is a national of the country of Z that has an E-1/E-2 treaty with the U.S. His wife and child are nationals of the country of Y which has no treaty with the U.S. The wife and child would, therefore, be entitled to derivative status and receive the same reciprocity as Mr. Doe, the principal visa holder.  

  3. The validity of H-1 through H-3, O-1 and O-2, P-1 through P-3, and Q visas may not exceed the period of validity of the approved petition or the number of months shown, whichever is less.

    Under 8 CFR §214.2, H-2A and H-2B petitions may generally only be approved for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as participating countries. The current list of eligible countries is available on USCIS's website for both H-2A and H-2B visas. Nationals of countries not on this list may be the beneficiary of an approved H-2A or H2-B petition in limited circumstances at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security if specifically named on the petition.  

    Derivative H-4, L-2, O-3, and P-4 visas, issued to accompanying or following-to-join spouses and children, may not exceed the validity of the visa issued to the principal alien.

  4. There is no reciprocity fee for the issuance of a J visa if the alien is a United States Government grantee or a participant in an exchange program sponsored by the United States Government.

    Also, there is no reciprocity fee for visa issuance to an accompanying or following-to-join spouse or child (J-2) of an exchange visitor grantee or participant.

    In addition, an applicant is eligible for an exemption from the MRV fee if he or she is participating in a State Department, USAID, or other federally funded educational and cultural exchange program (program serial numbers G-1, G-2, G-3 and G-7).

    However, all other applicants with U.S. Government sponsorships, including other J-visa applicants, are subject to the MRV processing fee.

  5. Under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Canadian and Mexican nationals coming to engage in certain types of professional employment in the United States may be admitted in a special nonimmigrant category known as the "trade NAFTA" or "TN" category. Their dependents (spouse and children) accompanying or following to join them may be admitted in the "trade dependent" or "TD" category whether or not they possess Canadian or Mexican nationality. Except as noted below, the number of entries, fees and validity for non-Canadian or non-Mexican family members of a TN status holder seeking TD visas should be based on the reciprocity schedule of the TN principal alien.

    Canadian Nationals

    Since Canadian nationals generally are exempt from visa requirement, a Canadian "TN' or "TD" alien does not require a visa to enter the United States. However, the non-Canadian national dependent of a Canadian "TN", unless otherwise exempt from the visa requirement, must obtain a "TD" visa before attempting to enter the United States. The standard reciprocity fee and validity period for all non-Canadian "TD"s is no fee, issued for multiple entries for a period of 36 months, or for the duration of the principal alien's visa and/or authorized period of stay, whichever is less. See 'NOTE' under Canadian reciprocity schedule regarding applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality.

    Mexican Nationals

    Mexican nationals are not visa-exempt. Therefore, all Mexican "TN"s and both Mexican and non-Mexican national "TD"s accompanying or following to join them who are not otherwise exempt from the visa requirement (e.g., the Canadian spouse of a Mexican national "TN") must obtain nonimmigrant visas.

    Applicants of Iranian, Iraqi or Libyan nationality, who have a permanent resident or refugee status in Canada/Mexico, may not be accorded Canadian/Mexican reciprocity, even when applying in Canada/Mexico. The reciprocity fee and period for "TD" applicants from Libya is $10.00 for one entry over a period of 3 months. The Iranian and Iraqi "TD" is no fee with one entry over a period of 3 months.

  6. Q-2 (principal) and Q-3 (dependent) visa categories are in existence as a result of the 'Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program Act of 1998'. However, because the Department anticipates that virtually all applicants for this special program will be either Irish or U.K. nationals, the Q-2 and Q-3 categories have been placed only in the reciprocity schedules for those two countries. Q-2 and Q-3 visas are available only at the Embassy in Dublin and the Consulate General in Belfast.

  7. No S visa may be issued without first obtaining the Department's authorization.

  8. V-2 and V-3 status is limited to persons who have not yet attained their 21st birthday. Accordingly, the period of validity of a V-2 or V-3 visa must be limited to expire on or before the applicant's twenty-first birthday.

  9. Posts may not issue a T-1 visa. A T-1 applicant must be physically present in the United States, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or a U.S. port of entry, where he/she will apply for an adjustment of status to that of a T-1. The following dependents of a T-1 visa holder, however, may be issued a T visa at a U.S. consular office abroad:

    • T-2 (spouse)
    • T-3 (child)
    • T-4 (parent)
  10. The validity of NATO-5 visas may not exceed the period of validity of the employment contract or 12 months, whichever is less.

  11. The validity of CW-1 and CW-2 visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (12 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

  12. The validity of E-2C visas shall not exceed the maximum initial period of admission allowed by DHS (24 months) or the duration of the transition period ending December 31, 2014, whichever is shortest.

 

 

General Documents | Birth, Death, Burial Certificates | Marriage, Divorce Certificates
General Documents

Please check back for update.

Birth, Death, Burial Certificates

Birth Certificates

Available

Fees:  The fee varies depending on the region but the price range is from USD $3 to 5.

Document Name:  Birth Certificate (Partida de Nacimiento)

Issuing Authority: Family Registry (Registro del Estado Familiar) of the city or village where the birth took place.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Round seal of the City Hall to which the Registry belongs with the shield of El Salvador.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Usually issued by the Head of the Family State Registry  (Jefe del Registro del Estado Familiar) or a delegate

Registration Criteria:  The applicant should submit his/her full name, date of birth, and names of parents to the appropriate Civil Registry. Requests should be addressed to the Head of the Family State Registry of the city or village

Procedure for Obtaining: Verbal or written request should be addressed to the "Jefe del Registro del Estado Familiar” (name of city or village).

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies are available

Alternate Documents: There are no alternate documents

Exceptions:  None

Comments:  In El Salvador, Birth Certificates are annotated with every change in marital status. These annotations DO NOT replace the certificate of the registry that originated them.


Death Certificates

 

Available

Fees:  The fee varies depending on the region but the price range is from USD $3 to 5.

Document Name:  Death Certificate (Partida de Defunción)

Issuing Authority: Civil Registry (Family Registry) of the city or village where the death occurred or where the deceased lived.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Usually issued by the head of the family state registry  (Jefe del Registro del Estado Familiar) or a delegate

Registration Criteria:  Full names of persons involved and date of event must be included in request.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Through a verbal or written request to the Civil Registry where the Death was registered.

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies are available

Alternate Documents: Extracts from civil records may be typed on stamped paper (papel sellado) or may consist of photocopies of registry books. Either type of extract should be signed by Civil Registry official (Jefe Del Registro del Estado Familiar) and should bear the rubber stamp seal of that office.

Exceptions:  None

Comments:  None

Marriage, Divorce Certificates

Marriage Certificates
 

Available

Fees: The fee varies depending on the region but the price range is from USD $3 to 5.

Document Name: Marriage Certificate (Partida De Matrimonio)

Issuing Authority:  Civil Registry (Family Registry) of the city or village where the marriage took place.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Round seal of the City Hall to which the Registry belongs with the shield of El Salvador.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Usually issued by the head of the family state registry (Jefe Del Registro del Estado Familiar) or a delegate.

Registration Criteria:  Full names of persons involved and date of event must be included in request.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Through a verbal or written request to the Civil Registry where the Marriage occurred.

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies are available

Alternate Documents:  There are no alternate documents

Exceptions: None

Comments: Same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in El Salvador. Religious weddings are not considered legal in El Salvador; therefore, church marriage certificates should not be accepted. Also, El Salvador has two different marriage documents. An "ACTA MATRIMONIAL" is the equivalent of a marriage license and does not constitute marriage.

 

Divorce Certificates
 

Available

Fees: The fee varies depending on the region but the price range is from USD $3 to 5.

Document Name: Divorce Certificate (Partida de Divorcio)

Issuing Authority: Civil Registry (Family Registry) of the city or village where the marriage was registered.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Round seal of the City Hall to which the Registry belongs with the shield of El Salvador.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: Usually issued by the head of the family state registry  (Jefe del Registro del Estado Familiar) or a delegate

Registration Criteria:  Full names of persons involved and date of event must be included in request.

Procedure for Obtaining:  Through a verbal or written request to the Civil Registry where the marriage occurred.

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies are available

Alternate Documents: Extracts from civil records may be typed on stamped paper (papel sellado) or may consist of photocopies of registry books. Either type of extract should be signed by Civil Registry official (Jefe Del Registro del Estado Familiar) and should bear the rubber stamp seal of that office.

Exceptions: None

Comments:  The divorce certificates are registered through the notification from the court that decreed the divorce. They also send notifications to the Civil Registry where the birth certificate was registered so it can be annotated with the divorce. 

Adoption Certificates | Identity Card | Police, Court, Prison Records | Military Records
Adoption Certificates

Available

Comments: In El Salvador, after an Adoption has occurred a new birth certificate is registered with the name of the new parents without adding anything that shows that the birth certificate was originated through an adoption process.  The old birth certificate is cancelled and can only be requested with a court order.  

Identity Card

Available

Document Name: The National ID card of El Salvador is called DUI (Documento Único de Identidad)

Issuing Authority: National registry of natural persons (Registro Nacional de las Personas Naturales)

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: National Registrar of Persons  (Registrador Nacional de Personas Naturales)

Procedure for Obtaining: Applicant must apply in person to one of the Bureaus of the National Registry of Natural persons. If it is the first time, they must bring their birth certificate.

Police, Court, Prison Records

Police Certificates

Available

Fees:  USD $3.50

Document Name: Police Certificate (Solvencia de la Policía Nacional Civil)

Issuing Authority: National Civilian Police's (PNC) Department of Certifications (Departamento de Solvencias).  

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: The certificate includes a photo of the subject and the signature of the Chief of the Department of Certifications.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:  Jefe de la Unidad de Registro y Antecedentes Policiales

Registration Criteria: There is no registration criteria.

Procedure for Obtaining:  The applicant must apply in person at the PNC's Departamento de Solvencias. The applicant must bring his/her original Documento Unico de Identidad (DUI) and a photocopy of the DUI. The applicant must be 18 years or older in order to receive a police certificate.

Certified Copies Available:  No.  The U.S. Embassy does not accept certified copies of this document.

Alternate Documents: There are no alternate documents

Exceptions: None

Comments: It is important to note that individuals cannot currently obtain records of their criminal histories from the Department of Certifications. Visa applicants with prior arrests in El Salvador are responsible for returning to the police department where they were detained or the court where their trial was held in order to obtain arrest and court records that are required for their visa interview.

 

Court Records
 

Unavailable

 

Prison Records
 

Available

Fees: USD $3.00

Document Name:  Certificate of Criminal Records (Constancia de Antecedentes Penales  o Certificado de Antecedentes Penales)

Issuing Authority: General Directorate of Criminal Records (Dirección General de Centros Penales)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format: Round seal of the Ministry of Justice and Public Security to which the Registry belongs with the shield of El Salvador.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:   Head of Arms Registration Branch (Encargado de Sucursal de Registro de Armas).

Registration Criteria: N/A

Procedure for Obtaining:  Through a verbal or written request to the nearest branch office.  

Certified Copies Available: No.  The U.S. Embassy does not accept certified copies of this document.

Alternate Documents: N/A

Exceptions: N/A

Comments: This document is valid for a period of 90 days after its issue.

Military Records

Available: In El Salvador, Military records are not requested because the military service is not mandatory.

Fees:  There are no fees

Document Name:  Discharge certificate

Issuing Authority: Personnel office of the general staff of the appropriate service.

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:  There are no special seals, color or format.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title: There is no specific issuing authority personnel title.

Registration Criteria: There is no registration criteria

Procedure for Obtaining:  There are no procedures for obtaining.

Certified Copies Available: Certified copies are not available.

Alternate Documents: There are no alternate documents

Exceptions: None

Comments:  Military Service is not mandatory in El Salvador. While records are available by contacting the personnel officer of the general staff of the appropriate military service, they are NOT required for immigrant visa processing

Passports & Other Travel Documents | Other Records | Visa Issuing Posts | Visa Services
Passports & Other Travel Documents

Types Available:  Diplomatic, Regular

Fees:

  • Diplomatic-N/A
  • Regular: USD $25.00

Document Name:  

  • Diplomatic Passport
  • Regular-Pasaporte

Issuing Government Authority:

  • Diplomatic-Foreign Ministry
  • Regular- General Directorate of Migration and Foreign (Dirección General de Migración y Extranjeria, DGME)

Special Seal(s) / Color / Format:

  • Diplomatic: The documents have black cover.
  • Regular: The documents have dark blue covers with the image of Central America at the font.

Issuing Authority Personnel Title:

  • Diplomatic: Dirección General de Protocolo y Ordenes Del Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores.
  • Regular: Migration Bureau

Registration Criteria:

  • Diplomatic: There is no registration criteria.
  • Regular:  There is no registration criteria.

Procedure for Obtaining:  

  • Diplomatic: There are no procedures for obtaining.
  • Regular: The applicant must apply in person at the Migration Bureau. The applicant must bring his/her original Documento Unico de Identidad (DUI) and a photocopy of the DUI.

Alternate Documents:

  • Diplomatic: There are no alternate documents
  • Regular: There are no alternate documents

Exceptions:

  • Diplomatic: None
  • Regular: None

Comments:

  • Diplomatic: There is no registration criteria.
  • Regular: The applicant must apply in person at the Migration Bureau. The applicant must bring his/her original Documento Unico de Identidad (DUI) and a photocopy of the DUI.

Other Documents Available:  

  • Diplomatic: There are no other documents available.
  • Regular: There are no other documents available.

Other Records

Not applicable.

Visa Issuing Posts

San Salvador, El Salvador (Embassy)

APO AA 34023-3114

Visa Services

All visa categories for all of El Salvador.