Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > China Intercountry Adoption Information
Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.
Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans coercively:
In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.
U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.
Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.
China does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to China:
China is a 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 must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption 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 China.
China still remains the top country of origin for intercountry adoptions to the United States. Until a decade ago, adoptees from China were predominately infant girls but now the pool of available children is comprised overwhelmingly of those with disabilities or older children split evenly across genders. This demographic shift is largely due to increased efforts by the Chinese government to promote domestic adoption for children in need of permanent homes and by improvements in the Chinese economy which have simultaneously reduced the number of orphans while increasing the number of families willing to adopt. As a result of China’s efforts to promote domestic solutions to child welfare issues, Chinese citizens now adopt 25,000 to 30,000 children each year.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from China, 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 being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) seeking to adopt a child from China must meet the following requirements imposed by China:
Note: Applications from individuals with past criminal records will be considered on a case-by-case basis if the individual has three or fewer minor criminal violations that did not result in severe outcomes (none in the last ten years) and five or fewer traffic violations with no severe outcomes.
The prospective parents must demonstrate the ability to provide a safe family environment capable of meeting the needs of a child placed for adoption and providing for her/his development, and an understanding of the special risks (including potential diseases, developmental delays, and post-placement maladjustment) that could come with inter-country adoption.
Because China is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from China must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of China have determined that placement of the child within China has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.
In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of China:
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).
Because China is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from China must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided 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 to Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by China’s Central Authority to Operate in China
The first step in adopting a child from China 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 and that has been authorized by the Government of China. A list of the accredited ASPs authorized to operate in China is located here. A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, fingerprints, and a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements.
3. Apply to China’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in China as part of your adoption application. China’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under China’s law.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and China determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and China’s 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 China 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 the child. The adoption authority in China will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but family must decide for itself whether or not 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 disability-related needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in China. Learn more about this critical decision.
Prospective adoptive parents either accept or refuse a referral and send the document to their agency, which forwards it to CCCWA. CCCWA requires a response on a referral within three months of sending a referral to a family. If PAPs are considering refusing a referral they should work with their ASP to approach CCCWA for second referral. CCCWA will only accept requests for a second referral is the CCCWA considers the reason for rejecting the first referral to be justified. If the reason for the rejection is considered justifiable, such as a medical need that the prospective adoptive parents feel they cannot meet, the CCCWA may refer a second child to the prospective adoptive parents within a month's time. If CCCWA regards the rejection as unreasonable, the prospective adoptive parents will have difficulty obtaining a second referral and CCCWA may suggest that the prospective adoptive parents withdraw their application for adoption in China.
Requirements for Adopting Children with disabilities or older children: Once prospective adoptive parents decide to accept a referral of a child with disabilities or an older child, they have 72 hours to fill out the necessary forms to complete their pre-approval application. Prospective adoptive parents can review the case, including the medical and growth records and a photo of the child. The specific medical or other needs of the child is documented in the referral and the prospective adoptive parents can decide if they can meet the child's needs; for example, whether their insurance would cover the child's medical needs, and whether they themselves are able to provide any educational or rehabilitative support, etc. If the prospective adoptive parents decide they are able to meet this child's needs, they indicate such to the CCCWA and from that point onward they have 72 hours to fill out the necessary forms to complete the dossier. If the prospective adoptive parents have not completed the forms and submitted them within 72 hours, the child's name goes back on the list and other prospective adoptive parents can review that child's file. For detailed information, please consult your adoption service provider.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept being matched with a particular child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to enter and remain in the United States.
Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from China.
You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. You should fill out these forms in your prospective adoptive child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. 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. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.
Warning: Do not attempt to adopt of a child in China before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your 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 the Child in China
Remember: Before you adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in China, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or a grant of legal custody by China for the purposes of emigration and adoption. The process for finalizing the adoption [or obtaining legal custody] in China generally includes the following:
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete there are a few more steps to take before 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 China, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport.
Requirements vary from province to province. The SWIs and ASPs help adopting parents obtain birth certificates and Chinese passports. Birth certificates always have birth-parents’ names if known or otherwise state “unknown.” Authorities do not put in adopting parents’ names in the birth certificate.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from China. The Social Welfare Institute (SWI) will assist in obtaining a passport from the Public Security Bureau in the city of SWI for the prospective adoptee.
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 Guangzhou, China. After the adoption or custody for purposes of emigration and adoption is granted, visit the U.S. Consulate General for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. Please contact the U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou by email at ACIVUappointment@state.gov to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination in China here.
Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please be sure to complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning 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. An adoptive parent 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 visit the U.S. Consulate General Guangzhou’s website for the latest information on appointment scheduling and visa procedures.
CHILD CITIZENSHIP ACT
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: 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 by law 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 China
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for China, 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, 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 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 China, 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 China, 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
We urge you to comply with China’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 China’s history of positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
Prospective adoptive parents must provide an adoption application letter that makes clear the willingness to allow post-placement follow-ups and provide post-placement reports as required. (Compliance with post-placement and post-adoption reports is extremely important for continued close cooperation on adoption between the United States and China.)
For cases issued a Notice of Coming to China for Adoption after January 1, 2015, CCCWA requires PAPs to submit post placement reports six months, one year, two years, three years, four years, and five years after the adoption registration.
The first three reports must be prepared by the social workers who prepared the home study. The last three reports may be written by the families themselves. Please consult your adoption service provider for further details.
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 adoption.
If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Consulate General in Guangzhou, 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-800 petition process.
The 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 Complaint Registry.
U.S. Embassy in China
U.S. Embassy Beijing
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road
Beijing, China 100600
Tel: (86-10) 8531-4000
Fax: (86-10) 8531-3300
U.S. Consulate General of the United States in Guangzhou
Mailing Address: 43 Hua Jiu Road, Zhujiang New Town
Guangzhou, China. 510623
Physical Address: Huaxia Road, Zhujiang New Town, (near Exit B1 of the Zhujiang New Town subway station, Line 3 and Line 5),
Tel: 011-86-20-3814 5000
China’s Adoption Authority
The China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption
16 Wang Jia Yuan Lane
Beijing, China 100027
Embassy of China
2201 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 110
Washington, D.C. 20007Tel: 202-337-1956
China also has consulates in: Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; New York, NY; and Houston, TX.
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-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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