Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Botswana Intercountry Adoption Information
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Botswana is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention (“orphan”) cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Unless an exception applies, the UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider act as a primary provider in every orphan case, and that adoption service providers providing any adoption services, as defined at 22 CFR Part 96.2, on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website on the impact of the UAA on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
Intercountry adoption in Botswana is rare. While the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone continues to engage regularly with the Government of Botswana on intercountry adoption issues, prospective adoptive parents may still face significant bureaucratic hurdles and delays when attempting to adopt in Botswana.
The Ministry of Local Government, through local district councils, maintains a list of prospective adoptive families, including both residents and non-residents of Botswana. According to Ministry officials, the approximate time it takes for an adoption to be concluded is eight months for citizens of Botswana and 18 months for non-citizens (to allow for investigation and clearance from their home countries). The process can take much longer.
While it is not explicitly required by law, prospective adoptive parents are expected to foster a prospective adoptive child for a period of six months in Botswana before they may conclude a full and final adoption. The purpose of the foster period is to provide opportunities for the parents and child to bond, and to allow a social worker to observe the family. Once a child is legally adopted in Botswana, the child may not be removed from Botswana for a period of 12 months. Parents who attempt to remove a child without written consent from the Minister of Local Government may be charged by Botswana officials with criminal activities. This legal requirement makes intercountry adoptions from Botswana extremely difficult for anyone other than long-term residents.
In traditional Setswana culture, adoption is neither common nor a preferred option for orphans or abandoned children. Extended families usually assume the guardianship roles in such cases. According to Ministry of Local Government officials, the Adoption Act is under review and will be consistent with provisions under the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Botswana, 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 being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from Botswana must meet the following requirements:
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements imposed by Botswana
If prospective adoptive parents wish to remove the adopted child temporarily from Botswana for any reason during the 12-month period in which they are required to remain in Botswana after the adoption is finalized, the Minister of Local Government must provide written permission prior to departure. The U.S. Embassy will require both the court order granting custody and notice that the child is free to travel outside of Botswana before issuing a non-immigrant visa to the adoptive or prospective adoptive child. In addition, it must be demonstrated to the satisfaction of the consular officer that the child has sufficient ties to Botswana to compel his/her return after a short visit to the United States. Please note that while there is a process in place for prospective adoptive parents to remove the child temporarily during the 12-month period, getting such permission can be extremely cumbersome and obstacle-ridden in practice. Prospective adoptive parents should consult with an attorney if they must depart with the child for any reason during this time.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are available 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 rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
Botswana’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Local Government
The process for adopting a child from Botswana generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider
Before taking steps to adopt a child from Botswana, you should select a U.S.- accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. Unless an exception applies, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA. Your primary provider is responsible for:
The Embassy is not aware of any laws prohibiting U.S. providers from providing adoption services in Botswana, though Botswana has not formally recognized any U.S. adoption service providers. Note that “private adoptions” outside of government regulations are not recognized in Botswana. Some families retain an attorney to help them navigate the system.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Botswana, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Botswana and U.S. immigration law.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. 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 comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311.
3. Apply to the Ministry of Social Development in Botswana to be Found Eligible to Adopt
IIf you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. immigration law, you may also submit an adoption application to the Ministry of Local Government of Botswana to be found eligible to adopt by Botswana.
Adoption of Children in the Magistrate’s Court is available on the Government of Botswana’s Administration of Justice (AOJ) website here.
The Central District Council carries out social investigations pertinent to the adoption processes and compiles and submits a social enquiry report to the Magistrate Court.Information can be obtained from the Social and Community Development Offices in Botswana’s various sub-districts on the Government of Botswana’s website. Adoption procedures in the Kgatleng District Council and contact information is available here.
If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in Botswana will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, will provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether it will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for a specific child, and must conform to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Botswana’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
Note: The Ministry of Local Government maintains a list of families (currently over 200 families, both citizens and foreigners) who wish to adopt children. Currently, this list is much longer than the number of eligible children, and families can wait many months or years before being matched. If you are eligible to adopt, and a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, you must request a match through the local magistrate court. 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.
4. Adopt the Child in Botswana or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption
The process for finalizing the adoption or obtaining legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption in Botswana generally includes the following:
Note: While the Ministry of Local Government has oversight of the entire process, local Magistrate Courts are the only authorities that issue binding legal decisions regarding children’s issues. Magistrate Courts are referred to as Children’s Courts when they hear cases involving children. Magistrate Courts give priority to children’s cases, and therefore custody and adoption cases are not mixed with other matters before the court. While the court is under no legal obligation to involve social workers in children’s issues, they typically do. However, social workers have described rare cases in which custody has been granted solely at the judge’s discretion.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either 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 Botswana with your adoption service provider, or, when appropriate, the Hague Complaint Registry. For more information in this regard, please refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry. Improper payments may violate applicable law or create the appearance of child buying, and could put all future adoptions in Botswana at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the IAA makes certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include to offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement 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 a central authority function or to engage another person as an agent to take any such action.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption or gain legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption in Botswana, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies, or if your case is UAA grandfathered or is a transition case. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider.
If you have a valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, approval you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S. Embassy in Gaborone, Botswana. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Gaborone must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination) to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.
For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the non-Convention adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their adopted child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
If you have finalized the adoption in Botswana, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. If you have been granted legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will not yet include your name in most cases.
This process can be completed at the main office of the Registrar of Births and Deaths located at the Department of Immigration in the Government Enclave in Gaborone.
This requirement comes from Laws of Botswana, Chapter 28-01 Section 13, which says, “When an order has been made for the adoption of a child whose birth has been registered in Botswana, the Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths shall on the application of the adoptive parent and on production of the order of adoption or of a certified copy thereof and on payment of the prescribed fee, cause the fact of adoption and a statement whether the name of the adoptive parent was or was not conferred upon the child by virtue of the adoption, to be recorded on the original birth information form and against any entry of the birth in the births register of the district Registrar of Births and Deaths in which the birth was recorded.”
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Botswana. You may bring the court order of adoption and apply for a Botswana passport at any Ministry of Home Affairs office. Please refer to the Ministry’s website for more information.
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 Gaborone. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. 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 form confirmation page to the visa interview. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
Please note that the U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg processes immigrant visas for non-U.S. citizens located in Botswana. Additional information concerning immigrant visa processing at the Consulate General in Johannesburg can be found on the U.S. Consulate General Johannesburg’s website.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon entry into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including the child is under the age of eighteen.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s entry into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship s/he will need a U.S. passport for any international travel. Only the U.S. Department of State has the authority to grant, issue, or verify U.S. passports.
Getting or renewing a passport is easy. The Department of State’s Passport Application Wizard will help you determine which passport form you need, help you to complete the form online, estimate your payment, and generate the form for you to print—all in one place.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to South Africa
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel to South Africa to apply for your child’s U.S immigrant visa. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. Before traveling to South Africa, please review the Consular Information Sheet for South Africa and be sure to comply with the Government of South Africa’s entry requirements, which stipulate that travelers to South Africa must have at least two blank pages in their foreign passport upon entry. On May 26, 2014, a new law governing immigration and travel procedures, the Immigration Amendment Act (Act), went into effect in South Africa. While the majority of the new law’s requirements went into effect on May 26, 2014, the Government of South Africa announced on September 16, 2014 that the immigration requirements specific to minors – originally set to go into effect on October 1, 2014 – are postponed until June 2015. For information about how the new law may affect your travel or that of your adoptive child, please carefully review the Department of State’s webpage regarding travelling to South Africa, closely monitor the South African Department of Home Affairs’ website for new information, or contact the nearest South African Embassy or Consulate for the latest information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country-Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Whether you are traveling in Botswana or South Africa, enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in Botswana or South Africa to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Enrolling in STEP or a crisis in Botswana/South Africa assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you in the case of a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Botswana or South Africa.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)
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 after an intercountry adoption.
If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Gaborone, 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-600 petition process.
The Hague 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 have been out of substantial compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Hague Complaint Registry.
U.S. Embassy in Botswana
Address: Embassy Drive, Government Enclave
U.S. Consulate General in Johannesburg, South Africa
P.O. Box 787197, Sandton, 2146
Johannesburg, South Africa
1 Sandton Drive, Sandhurst (opposite Sandton City Mall)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Tel: (27 11) 290-3000
Fax: (27 11) (011) 884-0396
Botswana’s Adoption Authority: Ministry of Local Government
Address: Bag 006, Gaborone, Botswana
Embassy of Botswana
Address: 1531 New Hampshire Ave. N.W.,
Washington, DC 20036
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
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- 913-214-5808
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS Contact Center
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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