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Last Update: Reissued after periodic review with minor edits.
Canada 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 Canada.
Canada is not considered a country of origin in intercountry adoption. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in extremely rare adoption cases from Canada, including adoptions of Canada children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by U.S. citizens living in Canada.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Hague Transition Cases.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Canada, 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.
In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents need to meet Canadian requirements. In Canada, and the provinces and territories are responsible for adoption matters, and prospective adoptive parents should contact the relevant provincial or territorial Central Authority for specific information on eligibility requirements to adopt, including any age, marriage, and income requirements.
Because Canada is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Canada must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. In addition to Canada’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.
WARNING: Canada is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Canada before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Canada’s Adoption Authority
In Canada, various provinces and territories are responsible for setting and administering adoption policies and procedures. The following Canadian government office provides contact information for the provincial or territorial Central Authorities who can provide specific information on adoption in Canada:
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 Canada 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 Canada is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Canada 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 Canada
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 Canada
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 Canada 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.
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 Canadian province or territory you wish to adopt from as part of your adoption dossier. The provincial or territorial Central Authority in Canada will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Canada’s law.
3. Be Matched with a Child in Canada
If both the United States and Canada determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the provincial or territorial Central Authority in Canada for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, that Central Authority 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 Canada. The provincial or territorial Central Authority in Canada 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 of and provide a permanent home for a particular child. If you accept the referral, your adoption service provider will communicate that to the adoption authority in Canada. 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. Consulate General in Montreal that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Canada. 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.
WARNING: The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the provincial or territorial Central Authority in Canada in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Canada 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 provincial or territorial Central Authority in Canada 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 Canada 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 Canada
Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in Canada, 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 Canada.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in Canada varies by province. Prospective parents should contact the relevant provincial adoption authority for specific information. In some provinces 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:
If you have finalized the adoption in Canada, you will firstneed 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.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Canada.
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. Consulate General in Montreal. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Consulate General in Montreal 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.
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 automatically become a citizen after entry into 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.
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.
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 Canada, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
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.
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 Canada, 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
Requirements, if any, vary by province. Please contact the relevant provincial adoption or territorial authority for specific information on post-adoption/post-placement requirements.
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. Consulate General in Montreal
1155 rue Saint-Alexandre
Montreal, Quebec H3B 3Z1
Tel: (514) 398-9695
Fax: (514) 398-0973
In Canada, the various provinces and territories are responsible for setting and administering adoption policies and procedures. The following Canadian government office provide contact information for the provincial and territorial central adoption authorities, who can provide specific information on adoption in Canada:
Federal Central Authority for Canada
Embassy of Canada
501 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Canada also has consulates in: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Palo Alto, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle.
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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