Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Cameroon Intercountry Adoption Information
Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.
Exercise increased caution in Cameroon due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do Not Travel to:
Country Summary: Violent crime, such as armed robbery and carjacking, is common throughout Cameroon. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious criminal incidents.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North, Far North, Northwest, Southwest, and Parts of Adamawa and East Regions of Cameroon due to current official travel restrictions.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Cameroon.
If you decide to travel to Cameroon:
North, Far North, Northwest and Southwest Regions, and parts of East and Adamawa Regions – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Violent crime, including kidnapping by terrorists and/or kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery, assault, and carjacking are serious concerns in Cameroon, especially in all these regions.
In the Adamawa Region north of the capital, Ngaoundere, and East Regions, there is a heightened criminal threat within 20 kilometers of the border with the Central African Republic.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Far North Region– Level 4: Do Not Travel
In the Far North Region, terrorists may attack with no warning, targeting local facilities and places frequented by Westerners.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Northwest and Southwest Regions – Level 4: Do Not Travel
In Northwest and Southwest Regions, armed clashes between separatists and government forces, and other acts of violence, including violent criminality, kidnapping for ransom, sexual assault, arson, roadside ambushes and robberies, use of improvised explosive devices, illegitimate detentions, and murder have occurred. Security force operations, imposed curfews and movement restrictions, and attacks by armed militants regularly take place throughout these regions, including in major cities. Ongoing violence has led to a breakdown in order and a significant decline in public services, including medical resources in large areas of both regions.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Cameroon 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 requirement that adoption service providers be accredited or approved, and therefore meet the accreditation standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also applies in non-Convention (“orphan”) cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider act as the primary provider in every Convention or non-Convention intercountry adoption 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. See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required.
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 home study requirements listed at 8 CFR 204.311, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Cameroon, 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.
Please note: Cameroon doesn’t allow IR-4 cases. All adoptions must be final in Cameroon.
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Cameroon must meet the following requirements:
Under the INA 101(b)(1)(F), a child can be considered an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from both parents, or in the case where there is a sole or surviving parent who is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements of Cameroon:
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 rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
Cameroon’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Social Affairs
The process for adopting a child from Cameroon 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 Cameroon, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Cameroon, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Cameroon 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. If you have already identified the child you wish to adopt, you may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition for the child and include all the required supporting documentation for the Form I-600A application (i.e. an approved home study) so USCIS can make a determination on your suitability and eligibility to adopt before revieiwing the child’s eligibility as an orphan. 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 must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311.
3. Apply to Cameroon’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. immigration law, Cameroon requires you to submit an adoption application to the Ministry of Social Affairs (MSA) of Cameroon to be found eligible to adopt in Cameroon.
The MSA only handles the pre-adoption process for eligible adoptable children from accredited children’s welfare organizations such as orphanages, associations, private community services, and non-governmental organizations. To protect themselves and children from the possibility of fraud or other serious problems, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt should only consider the list of children available for intercountry adoption from accredited organizations at the Ministry of Social Affairs
If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority (MSA) or other authorized entity in Cameroon will review your adoption file and, if an appropriate match is found, provide you with a referral. Once a child has been identified, the Ministry of Social Affairs must grant authorization to that organization to release the child for adoption.
A social worker will be assigned to track the case and assist the prospective adoptive parents with identifying a child for adoption and monitoring the family during the foster care period The social worker's final report determines whether the prospective adoptive parents can proceed to apply for adoption approval from the High Court. The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Cameroon’s requirements, as described above.
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 ultimately adhere to the USCIS’ suitability determination (i.e. typically the Form I-600A approval notice) with respect to the number of children you are approved to adopt and the characteristics of the child(ren) (such as age, gender, nationality, and/or special need, disability, and/or impairment) that you are approved to adopt. Learn more about Health Considerations
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Cameroon’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.
4. Adopt the Child in Cameroon
The process for finalizing the adoption in Cameroon generally includes the following:
Note: See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required.
We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Cameroon, 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 Cameroon 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 UAA and IAA make 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 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 Cameroon include: administrative fees associated with the pre-adoption process with the MSA, court fees associated with the judicial process with the High Court, and attorney fees if a lawyer is hired.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption in Cameroon, USCIS must determine if 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, on behalf of the child and, unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider.
If you have a valid Form I-600A approval, you may file your Form I-600 petition in the United States with the USCIS National Benefits Center or at the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated either by USCIS or the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde, Cameroon, the consular section in Yaounde, Cameroon 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.
Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the non-Convention adoption process. It can take approximately six 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
Once your adoption is complete and the Form I-604 determination has been completed, finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child.
If you have finalized the adoption in Cameroon, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
You may apply for a new birth certificate for your child based on the adoption decree. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. If you elect to maintain the original birth certificate, you need to have an endorsement added referencing the adoption.
A birth certificate (Acte de Naissance) is issued by the Mayor’s office (La Mairie), Civil Status Center (Centre d’Etat Civil) or Special Center (Centre Special) at the child’s place of birth, usually within a month of the final adoption. There may be a fee for this service. The child’s birth last name will be replaced by your last name. You may elect to change the child’s first and middle names provided the adoption order grants you permission to do so.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Cameroon.
Your child will need a passport from Cameroon. Each province has an immigration office that issues passports. The requirements for passports and estimated costs are:
Passport fee (about $130.00)Certificate of nationality
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600 , you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Yaounde. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you 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 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 48 hours. It is not 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 Yaounde before making final travel arrangements. You should not make any travel plans until you have the visa in hand as delays in processing are common. Additional information on immigrant visa processing can be found on our website.
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 Cameroon
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 Cameroon, 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 Cameroon, 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 Cameroon, 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
The Cameroon Ministry of Justice requires that adoptive parents report on the welfare of the adopted children for the first three years after adoption. We urge you to comply with Cameroon’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 Cameroon’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
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 adoptions.
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.
If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Yaounde, 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/A process.
The Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. 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.
U.S. Embassy in Cameroon
Avenue Rosa Parks
(in the Mbankolo Quartier, adjacent to the Mount Febe Golf Club)
P.O. Box 817, Yaoundé, Cameroon
Telephone: (237) 22220-1500
Fax: (237) 22220-1572
Cameroon’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Social Affairs
Tel.: (00237) 22223-0066 / 22223-6234 / 22222-2958
Fax: (00237) 22223-2037 / 22223-1121
Embassy of Cameroon
1700 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 265-8790
Fax: (202) 387-3826
Cameroon also has consulates in: Houston and San Francisco:.
Cameroonian Consulate in Houston, United States
Consulate of the Republic of Cameroon in Houston, United States
Crosby, Texas 77532 United States
Phone: (+1) (713) 499-3502
Cameroonian Consulate in San Francisco, United States
Consulate of the Republic of Cameroon in San Francisco, United States
147 Terra Vista
San Francisco, California 94115 United States
Phone: (+1) (415) 921-5372
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 filing a Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition with the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC):
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local); Fax:1-913-214-5808
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition with a USCIS international field office:
Please visit http://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-immigration-offices and select the appropriate office.
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS Contact Center
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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