Exercise normal precautions in Albania. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Exercise increased caution in:
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Albania:
The security situation in Lazarat remains volatile due to crime and violence associated with marijuana cultivation. Local police have limited ability to protect and assist travelers.
The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Lazarat as U.S government employees are prohibited from traveling there.
Albania is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Albania.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Albania, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 visa.
In addition to the U.S. requirements, Albania obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Albania:
Because Albania is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Albania must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Albania attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Albania's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adopteefor you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Eligibility requirements are set forth in Albanian Law 9695, dated March 19, 2007, on adoption procedures and the Albanian Adoption Committee: Only children who are on the official lists of the Albanian Adoption Committee are eligible for adoption. The Albanian Adoption Committee lists registered Albanian children when:
WARNING: Albania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Albania before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Albania's Adoption Authority
Albania’s Adoption Committee
Rr: Mine Peza, Pallati 87/3
Shkalla 2, Tirana
Tel: +355 (0)4 222 7487; +355 (0)4 222 6465
Fax: +355 (0)4 222 7487
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A identifying [Albania] as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. For more information, read about Transition Cases.
Because Albania is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Albania must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
The process for finalizing the adoption or gaining legal custody of a child in Albania includes the following:
Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Albania include:1.Court Expenses and certificates – approximately $50.00 (submission of request, court decrees, stamps, court fees, birth certificates)
All the above-mentioned documents must be submitted through an adoption agency authorized by the Albanian Adoption Committee.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
Authentication of Documents:
The United States and Albania are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents must be authenticated with an Apostille by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
If you have finalized the adoption in Albania, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
The adoption agency will help you obtain a new birth certificate for the child. The final court decision specifies the adoptive parents’ names, which will be entered in the Vital Office's record of the child.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so s/he will need a travel document or passport from Albania.
The adoptive parents apply for the child’s passport at the passport office, in the same jurisdiction as the civil registry office that issued the child’s revised birth certificate (usually the two offices are co-located). The passport office will keep one copy of the court-issued adoption decree. Most passport offices can process expedited passport applications in three to four business days.
There is a 13 day waiting period after the court date before the decision goes into effect. The child must remain in Albania during these 13 days, although s/he may reside with the adoptive parents during that time. Please remember that your newly adopted child will travel to the U.S. for the first time on his/her Albanian passport. S/he may need to obtain a transit visa in order to be permitted to travel through certain countries (such as the United Kingdom). The transit country cannot issue this visa until the child has a passport. In many cases the transit visa application may take several days or more to process. (Note: this procedure is separate from the U.S. immigrant visa process). Therefore, prospective adoptive parents should be prepared to arrive in Albania a day or two before the court date and to remain in the country for at least three weeks.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need your child’s U.S. visa from the U.S. Embassy in Tirana. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, your child needs a medical examination from one of the embassy-approved physicians.
For this process you will need:
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
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Albania. 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 Wizardwill 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 Albania
United States citizens can stay in Albania for up to a year without the requirement of a visa. For further information, please 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 Albania, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Adoption service providers must provide the Albanian Adoption Committee with three post-placement reports during the first year after the adoption and two additional reports during the second year. We strongly urge you to comply with Albania’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Albania
Tel: +355 (0)4 224 7285
Fax: +355 (0)4 237 4957
Albania’s Adoption Committee
Rr: Mine Peza
Tel: +355 (0)4 222 7487; +355 (0)4 222 6465
Fax: +355 (0)4 222 7487
Embassy of Albania
1312 18th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 223 4942
Fax: (202) 628 7342
Albania also has a consulate in New York.
Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A or I-800 petition:
National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
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