Intercountry Adoption


Country Information


Republic of Burundi
Reconsider travel to Burundi due to crime and armed conflict.

Reconsider travel to Burundi due to crime and armed conflict

Violent crimes, such as grenade attacks and armed robbery, are common.  Although Westerners are less likely to be specific targets, the risk related of “wrong time, wrong place” remains. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime.

There are ongoing political tensions in Burundi, and there has been sporadic violence throughout the country, including frequent gunfire and grenade attacks. Police and military checkpoints are common and can restrict freedom of movement.  Police have searched the homes of private citizens as part of larger weapons searches.

The provinces of Cibitoke and Bubanza are vulnerable to occasional cross-border raids by armed groups from the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where violent clashes continue. The border may close without notice.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Burundi, and medical services in Burundi fall well below U.S. standards. U.S. embassy personnel are subject to restrictions when traveling in certain areas of Burundi and may be subject to other constraints as security conditions warrant. These restrictions include limitations on travel outside of Bujumbura during hours of darkness (typically 6:00 6:00 a.m.) and advance coordination for travel to the Bujumbura neighborhoods of Buyenzi, Bwiza, Cibitoke, Gasenyi, Kamenge, Kinama, Musaga, Mutakura, and Ngagara.

Read the Safety and Security section on the Country Information page.

If you decide to travel to Burundi:

  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Avoid areas where there are large gatherings, protests, or demonstrations, and exercise caution in the vicinity of any such gatherings.
  • Remain aware of your surroundings and be vigilant when traveling in unfamiliar areas or outside of cities and along border areas; take appropriate steps to enhance your personal security.
  • Consider traveling in pairs and using convoys of multiple vehicles to mitigate the threat of roadside hoodlums when traveling outside of Bujumbura. Carry additional fuel, spare tires, and provisions. Include a satellite phone, map, navigation equipment, and first aid kit. Service stations are scarce in rural areas. Professional roadside assistance service is not available outside the capital.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Burundi.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Hague Convention Participation

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

Hague Convention Information

Burundi is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague 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 Burundi.

Burundian courts may issue guardianship orders, but not for the purpose of immigrating to the United States for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents therefore should expect to finalize the adoption in Burundi and for the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi to only issue IH-3 visas to Burundian children who are legally adopted in Burundi.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.

Last Updated: April 6, 2015

U.S. Immigration Requirements

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Burundi, 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 law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents need to meet Burundi’s to adopt a child from Burundi:

  • Residency: There is no residency requirement in Burundian adoption law.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be at least age 30. The minimum age does not apply when adopting the child of a spouse. Prospective adoptive parents must be at least 15 years older than the prospective adoptee(s). Age requirements may be waived by the local High County Court (Tribunal de Grand Instance) with jurisdiction over the adoption.
  • Marriage: Spouses may apply for adoption after being married for a minimum of five years. Spouses should not be separated, and both must give consent unless one is incapable of giving consent. Gay marriage is illegal in Burundi.
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate sufficient material resources for adoption and support of the children.
  • Other: The presence of biological children in the home does not prevent prospective adoptive parents from adopting. Although Burundian adoption law is silent on the issue of same-sex couples and adoption, in practice, singles and unmarried partners are not allowed to adopt.

Who Can Be Adopted

Because Burundi is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Burundi must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Burundi have determined that placement of the child within Burundi has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Burundi’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.

Burundian adoption law specifies that local adoption by Burundian nationals, including dual U.S.-Burundian citizens, is preferred. Preference is given to Burundian nationals resident in Burundi. However, if no such adoption is available for a child, intercountry adoption is possible. The law does not specify what efforts must be made or how much time must elapse to determine that the child could not be placed with Burundian nationals.


  • Relinquishment: Consent to adoption must be given by either birth parents or the legal guardian(s). The consent of only one parent, or legal guardian, is accepted when the other parent is deceased or incapable of giving consent. Birth parents, or legal guardians can withdraw consent for a period of three months or until the child is placed with prospective adopting parents.
  • Abandonment: The local High County Court can deem a child “abandoned” if the child was obviously neglected by the biological parent(s) for a period of more than one year.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Children under age 15 are eligible for adoption. Children aged 13 or older must consent to the proposed adoption.
  • Sibling Adoptions: Burundian authorities encourage keeping siblings together when possible. However, no specific exceptions to adoption procedures apply.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Not addressed in Burundian law.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Burundian law only specifies a waiting period in cases of relinquishment and abandonment. A child must be unclaimed by a parent or family member for a period of 12 months to be considered relinquished. An abandoned child may only be adopted after reaching one year of age.

How to Adopt

Warning: Burundi is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Burundi before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.

Burundi’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender

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 Burundi 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. Similarly, if the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force in Burundi after April 1, 2008, and you have an approved, unexpired Form I-600A or filed a Form I-600 before the entry into force date in Burundi, your adoption may be considered a transition case. Please contact with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.

The Process

Because Burundi is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Burundi 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 to meet 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.

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Burundi
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt (or Obtain Legal Custody) of child in Burundi
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home

1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Burundi is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

Additionally, Burundian law requires that U.S. adoption service providers providing services in Burundi be authorized by Burundi’s Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender. Prospective adoptive parents can obtain a current list of authorized U.S. adoption service providers from the Ministry by calling +257 22 216 303 or emailing

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Burundi as part of your adoption dossier. Burundi’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Burundi’s law.

3. Be Matched with a Child by in Burundi

If both the United States and Burundi determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the central authority for Convention adoptions in Burundi may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Burundi. The adoption authority in Burundi will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in Burundi. Learn more about this critical decision.

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

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800). USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant.

After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Burundi. A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities.

In order to request the Article 5/17 letter, you’ll need to submit the following documents to the consular section immigrant visa unit at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya:

  • DS 260 visa application form
  • Copies of Prospective Adoptive Parent/s (PAPs) passport
  • Copies of PAPs birth and marriage certificates
  • Two passport size photos of the child to be adopted
  • Fee of $325.00 or the equivalent of Kenyan sh. 29,250.00 and
  • Copies of birth certificate and passport (if available at this stage) of the child to be adopted

Please note: all documents not in English, or in the official language of the country in which application for a visa is being made, must be accompanied by certified English translations. Translations must be certified by a competent translator and sworn to be before a Notary Public.

Once you have the above stated documents, please give the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi a call on 020 363 66 22 or send them an email at to request a filing appointment. You, your agency representative, or other designated agent will need to appear in person at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi to file the DS-260 to initiate the Article 5/17 letter request. Following the appointment, you will receive notification from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi that the Article 5/17 letter has been electronically transmitted to the Burundi Central Authority. The Burundi central authority will then file the appropriate documents with the courts to continue the adoption proceedings. Your representative in Burundi should follow-up with the central authority for any processing updates.

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

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Burundi before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any 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 (or Obtain Legal Custody) of Child in Burundi

Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in Burundi, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption or grant of custody for the purposes of adoption in Burundi.

The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in Burundi generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority: All adoption cases are submitted to the Central Authority in the Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights and Gender. The Central Authority is responsible for finding children eligible for intercountry adoption after reviewing documentation on each child’s identity, status as an orphan or ward, socio-economic background, medical history, education, and existing family situation/family consent. The Central Authority also is responsible for proposing matches of children in need of placement with prospective adoptive parents, and for providing the Article 16 report on a proposed child along with the proposed match to the U.S. adoption service provider. Once a match is proposed and accepted at the Ministry level and they have received the Article 5/17 Letter from U.S. Embassy Nairobi, it must then be approved by the local High County Court with jurisdiction. The Central Authority is also responsible for authorizing accredited U.S. adoption agencies to provide services in adoptions from Burundi.
  • Role of the Court: Once approval is received from the Central Authority, and the Central Authority confirms receipt of the U.S. Article 5/17 Letter, the case will be transmitted to the local High County Court with jurisdiction for ruling.

    The High County Court is also responsible for determining that a child was abandoned by his/her parent(s), if he/she was neglected for a period of more than one year.
  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The adoption service provider facilitates the pre-adoption counseling, submission of application for adoption, home study, child assignment, and application for child's overseas adoption to the Burundian Government. The adoption service provider also transmits the Central Authority’s report on the child and proposed match to the prospective adoptive parents, and if they accept the match, transmits the prospective adoptive parents’ consent to the Burundian Central Authority.
  • Time Frame: Intercountry adoptions can take between six (6) months and two (2) years to complete in Burundi. There is also a 30-day waiting period between the High County Court’s ruling and issuance of the Certificate of Non-Appeal. The certificate must be presented when adoptive parents apply for the child’s new birth certificate and Burundian passport.
  • Adoption Application: To start the Burundian adoption process, prospective adoptive parents or their adoption agency must contact the Burundian Central Authority.

    Application: The prospective adoptive parents file an application with the Burundian Central Authority through an accredited U.S. adoption service provider that is also authorized by the Burundian Central Authority. This application will include a home study on the prospective adopting parents and documentation of their eligibility to adopt (Form I-800A and approval notice).

    Acceptance of Match: To indicate they accept the proposed child, the prospective adoptive parents must file a Deed of Acceptance and an Act of Consent to Adoption with the Burundian Central Authority.
  • Adoption Fees: The Department of State discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, such as "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested of prospective adoptive parents. Such fees may be perceived as “child buying", may violate the Convention and U.S. law, and may jeopardize all future adoptions in Burundi.

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

    The Ministry of Solidarity charges 3000 Euro, payable once adoption procedures are finalized. This may be subject to change.
  • Documents Required:
    1. Letter of adoption request addressed to Burundian Central Authority,
    2. A deed of support from the prospective adoptive parents,
    3. Consent to the adoption by the prospective adoptive parents,
    4. Birth certificates of prospective adoptive parents,
    5. Law enforcement background checks of prospective adoptive parents,
    6. Copies of passports or travel documents of prospective adoptive parents,
    7. Medical reports of prospective adoptive parents,
    8. Certificates of good conduct of prospective adoptive parents,
    9. Psychological reports on prospective adoptive parents,
    10. Certificate of family composition of the prospective adoptive parents,
    11. Marriage certificate of the prospective adoptive parents,
    12. Certificates of annual income of the prospective adoptive parents,
    13. A favorable notice on adoption by the Burundian Central Authority,
    14. The medical records of the child,
    15. Written consent from the child, if the child is older than 13 years
    16. Written consent of the family members of the child, if applicable
    17. A legal notification of abandonment of the child, if applicable,
    18. A birth certificate for the child, and
    19. A social report of the child by the Burundian Central Authority.

    Note: Additional documents may be requested.
  • Authentication of Documents: You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents.

6. Obtain an 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 purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate

If you have finalized the adoption in Burundi, 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.

Changing the name of the child to acquire the surname of the adoptive father is done at the Ministry of Justice in the Department of Legal Affairs and of Litigations. This can be initiated through the Ministry of Solidarity in coordination with the Agency representative.

Burundi Passport

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

Passports can only be obtained at the government agency Police of Air, Frontiers, and Foreigners. The fee for a passport is 235,000 Burundian Francs (approximately 160 USD), and applications take approximately two days to process.

U.S. Immigrant Visa

After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. 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 if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.

The Government of Burundi requires U.S. adoptive parents to inform the Burundian Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya that the child received his/her immigrant visa before departing to the U.S. The Burundian Embassy in Kenya can be contacted at:

Embassy of the Republic of Burundi
Muthaiga Road, No. 37
Coop Trust Plaza, Upper hill (off Bunyala Road)
P.O. Box 61165 – 00200, Nairobi
Tel: (+254) 20 310 826 / 8
Fax: (+254) 20 310 827
E-mail: embunai@yahoo.frJ


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 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 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.

Traveling Abroad

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 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 Burundi
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 Burundi, 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 Burundi, 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

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Burundian post-adoption procedures require adoptive parents to notify the Burundian Embassy in the United States of an adopted child’s presence in the United States and submit annual reports on the child. Children from Burundi maintain Burundian citizenship after immigrating to the United States and the Burundian Embassy may seek to conduct periodic welfare/whereabouts visits with Burundian adoptees and their adoptive families until the children reach age 18.

We strongly urge you to comply with Burundi’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen 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. 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.

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Burundi
Avenue Des Etats Unis, Bujumbura, Burundi
Tel: +257 22 207 000
Fax: +257 22 243 467

Burundi’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Solidarity, Human Rights, and Gender
Address: Boite Postale 6518, Bujumbura, Burundi
Tel: +257 22 216 303
Fax: +257 22 218 201

Embassy of Burundi
2233 Wisconsin Avenue N.W. Suite 212; Washington D.C. 20007
Tel: 202 342 2574
Fax: 202 342 2578

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI, SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Tel: 1-888-407-4747

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)

Last Updated: April 6, 2015

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bujumbura
Avenue Des Etats-Unis
Bujumbura, Burundi
+(257) 22-20-7000 (Monday - Thursday 2 p.m. – 5 p.m., Friday 7:30 a.m. – 12:30p.m.)
+(257) 79-938-841
+(257) 22-24-3467

Burundi Map