Do not travel to Afghanistan due to crime, terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.
Travel to all areas of Afghanistan is unsafe because of high levels of kidnappings, hostage taking, suicide bombings, widespread military combat operations, landmines, and terrorist and insurgent attacks, including attacks using vehicle-borne or other improvised explosive devices (IEDs), suicide vests, and grenades. Attacks have targeted official Afghan and U.S. government convoys and facilities, foreign embassies, military installations, commercial entities, non-governmental organization (NGO) offices, hospitals, residential compounds, places of worship, restaurants, hotels, airports, and schools.
Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Afghanistan. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, public gatherings, markets/shopping malls, and local government buildings.
The U.S. Embassy's ability to provide routine and emergency services to U.S. citizens in Afghanistan is severely limited, particularly outside of Kabul. Evacuation options from Afghanistan are extremely limited due to the lack of infrastructure, geographic constraints, and the volatile security situation.
Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in Afghanistan. Unofficial travel to Afghanistan by U.S. government employees and their family members is restricted and requires prior approval from the Department of State. U.S. Embassy personnel are restricted from traveling to all locations in Kabul except the U.S. Embassy and other U.S. government facilities unless there is a compelling U.S. government interest in permitting such travel that outweighs the risk. Additional security measures are needed for any U.S. government employee travel and movement through Afghanistan.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Afghanistan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Afghanistan:
Afghanistan is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption(Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
The Afghan Civil Code governs the rights and interests of minors in Afghanistan. Islamic Shari’a law, upon which Afghanistan family law is largely based, does not allow for adoption of Afghan children in Afghanistan. Therefore, U.S. citizens considering adoption of an Afghan child must obtain guardianship for the purpose of emigration and adoption in the United States from the Afghan Family Court that has jurisdiction over the prospective adoptive child’s place of residence. It is important to note that according to Afghan laws, prospective adoptive parents who are non-Muslim may not be appointed guardians of Muslim children. Strong cultural ties to Afghanistan (dual Afghan-American nationality, for example) may favorably influence the court’s decision, but are not required.
Prospective adoptive parents may apply for a U.S. immigrant visa in cases where the Afghan Family Court grants guardianship of an orphan as defined under U.S. immigration law. The Afghan Family Court must specifically rule that the child is permitted to leave the jurisdiction of Afghanistan for the purpose of being adopted in the United States by the prospective parents. Prospective adoptive parents should refer to our country information sheet on Adoption of Children From Countries in which Islamic Shari'a Law is Observed for more information.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Afghanistan, 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 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.
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Afghanistan:
In order to be eligible as a guardian, Afghan Civil Code states that the guardian must be righteous, meet all eligibility requirements, and be able to support the child. A person who has been convicted of crimes against public morality or chastity, has a bad reputation, does not have legitimate income, previously lost guardianship of the child by order of the court, has been denied guardianship in writing by the father or paternal grandfather of the child, or has any judicial dispute with the child’s family, may not be appointed guardian.
Prospective parents must comply with U.S. legal requirements in the I-600 process. U.S. citizens who are interested in adopting an Afghan child are strongly encouraged to contact U.S. Consular officials in Kabul before making any adoption plans to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed which will make it possible for the Embassy to issue a U.S. immigrant visa to the child.
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Afghanistan has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption:
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. In many countries, birth parents place their child(ren) temporarily in an orphanage or children’s home due to financial or other hardship, intending that the child return home when this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to their child(ren)’s adoption.
In order to adopt a child from Afghanistan, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Find out more about Who can be adopted and these U.S. requirements.
Prospective adoptive parents may petition the Afghan family court for guardianship of a specific child. However, obtaining legal guardianship under Afghan law does not automatically signify that a child is an orphan under U.S. law.
Afghanistan’s Adoption Authority
There is no central government adoption authority. Guardianship proceedings are handled by the Afghan Family Court.
The process for adopting a child from Afghanistan generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose an adoption service provider
2. Identify a child to adopt
3. Apply to be found eligible to adopt
4. Gain guardianship of the child in Afghanistan
5. Apply for the child to be found eligible for orphan status
6. Bring your child home
1. Choose an Adoption Service Provider
The recommended first step in adopting a child from Afghanistan is to decide whether or not to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States that can help you with your adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website.
2. Identify a child to adopt
If you are found eligible to adopt, and have identified a child who is in need of a guardian per Afghan law and meets the definition of orphan under U.S. law, you may petition the Afghan Family Court to obtain guardianship of that child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of and provide a permanent home for a particular child.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Afghanistan’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law.
3. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Afghanistan, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Afghanistan and U.S. immigration law. In order to obtain guardianship of an Afghan child, you must file a guardianship petition with the Afghan Family Court.
Prospective guardians should appear in person at the Afghan Family Court in the province in which they were born (for U.S. citizens who were born in Afghanistan), or in the province in which the child is currently residing, to file a petition for guardianship of a particular child. A designated attorney can represent the prospective guardian in court. The court will consider the request and complete a community/background investigation. If the court approves the guardianship petition, the guardians and two witnesses will appear in person at the Family Court and a legal guardianship decree will be issued. Again, a designated attorney can represent the prospective guardians in court. The final guardianship decree can be obtained from the Family Court in approximately one week.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.
4. Gain Legal Custody of Child in Afghanistan
The process for gaining legal custody in Afghanistan generally includes the following:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Orphan Status
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Afghanistan, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
6. Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), you need to apply for several documents for your child before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:
If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, a new Afghan birth certificate will not be issued, even after you obtain legal guardianship of the child. The original Afghan ‘tazkera’ will remain valid and will permanently list the biological father’s name. The guardianship decree should be used in tandem with the Afghan ‘tazkera’ for any legal matters where a birth certificate and evidence of legal custody are required.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Afghanistan.
You can obtain an Afghan passport for your child at the Passport Office in Kabul or at the office in your or the child’s home province. You should submit the child’s original Afghan ‘tazkera’ and the guardianship decree with the passport application. The fee for a five year validity passport is approximately USD $100 and it takes approximately one to two weeks to process.
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 Kabul. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
You can find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy in Kabul’s website.
The prospective adoptive child must be the beneficiary of an approved Form I-600 petition before an immigrant visa may be issued. Prospective adoptive parents who have a valid, approved Form I-600A may file their Form I-600 either in the United States with USCIS’s National Benefits Center or in person at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul. Contact the Embassy in Kabul at KabulIV@state.gov to schedule an immigrant visa interview for your prospective adoptive child.
A Form I-604 Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan investigation) is required in all orphan adoption cases, even if a Form I-600 petition has been approved, and serves to verify that the child is an orphan as defined by U.S. immigration law. Generally, the Form I-604 is initiated after the prospective adoptive parent(s) file their Form I-600 petition. Depending upon the circumstances of the case, it can take several months for the I-604 to be completed. Adoptive parents are advised to have flexible travel plans while awaiting the results of the I-604 investigation.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Afghanistan
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Afghanistan, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Afghanistan, 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).
Guardians are not required to provide periodic reports on the child’s adjustment and welfare to the Afghan Family Court.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
Embassy of Afghanistan
2233 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20007
Tel: (202) 298-9125
Fax: (202) 298-9127
Afghanistan also has consulates in New York and Los Angeles.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A or I-600 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel:1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
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