Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Colombia Intercountry Adoption Information
Reissued with updates to high-risk areas.
Reconsider travel due to crime and terrorism. Exercise increased caution due to civil unrest and kidnapping. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do Not Travel to:
Country Summary: Violent crime, such as homicide, assault, and armed robbery, is widespread. Organized criminal activities, such as extortion, robbery, and kidnapping, are common in some areas.
The National Liberation Army (ELN), Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People’s Army (FARC-EP), and Segunda Marquetalia terrorist organizations continue operating and launching attacks in Colombia. They may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, police stations, military facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas. While terrorists have not specifically targeted U.S. citizens, the attacks could result in unintended victims.
Demonstrations occur regularly throughout the country. Large public demonstrations can take place for a variety of political and economic issues. Demonstrations can shutdown roads and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Road closures may significantly reduce access to public transportation and may disrupt travel both within and between cities. Nationwide protests in 2021 resulted in fatalities and injuries.
U.S. government employees must adhere to the noted restrictions:
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Colombia.
If you decide to travel to Colombia:
Arauca, Cauca, and Norte de Santander Departments – Level 4: Do Not Travel
Violent crime, including armed robbery and homicide, is widespread.
Terrorist groups are active in some parts.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens as U.S. government-personnel travel to these areas is severely restricted due to security concerns.
Colombia - Venezuela Border – Level 4: Do Not Travel
U.S. citizens are advised not to travel to the border of Colombia and Venezuela. U.S. citizens are at risk of detention when crossing into Venezuela from Colombia. The Colombia-Venezuela border is not clearly marked, and U.S. citizens should not go near the border due to the risk of crossing into Venezuela accidentally. U.S. citizens attempting to enter Venezuela without a visa have been charged with terrorism and other serious crimes and detained for long periods. For more information, see the Venezuela Travel Advisory.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Intercountry adoptions to the United States from Colombia and from the United States to Colombia are possible.
Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting a child from the United States. We urge prospective adoptive parents residing abroad who are considering adoption of a child from the United States to consult with Colombia’s Central Authority, the Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF), for its determination as to whether it considers your adoption to be subject to the Convention.
Colombia 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 Colombia.
All Colombian adoptions are managed through ICBF or an authorized adoption institution (known in Spanish as “Institucion Autorizada para desarollar el Programa de Adopciones” (IAPA)). Colombian law prohibits private adoptions. Please note ICBF does not allow for a Colombian child to travel to the United States to be adopted. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents must obtain a full and final adoption under Colombian law before the child can immigrate to the United States. The Colombian adoption process has two stages, an administrative process (with ICBF or an IAPA) and a judicial process before a family judge. Intercountry adoptions are only considered full and final in Colombia after the family judge issues the final adoption decree, called a “sentencia,” and the certificate of conformity issued by ICBF. Adopting parents are required to remain in Colombia during both stages of the adoption process.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Colombia, 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 seeking to adopt a child from Colombia must meet the following requirements imposed by Colombia:
Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Colombia 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 Colombia have determined that placement of the child within Colombia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.
Colombia only approves a child for adoption after completing an extensive review of the child’s situation and his or her extended family (a process known as the restoration of rights – “restablecimiento de derechos” in Spanish).
In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements imposed by Colombia:
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 not relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Colombia before: 1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) the Central Authority of Colombia has determined the child is eligible for intercountry adoption, 3) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 4) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Colombia’s Central Adoption Authority
Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF)
Because Colombia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Colombia 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 cause significant delays or 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
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
3. Apply to Colombia’s Authorities to Adopt, and Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S.Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
5. Adopt the Child in Colombia
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home[M1]
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by Colombia’s Central Authority to Operate in Colombia
The first step in adopting a child from Colombia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide intercountry adoption services to U.S. citizens and that has been authorized by the Government of Colombia. 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. Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services in your case, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
Note: Colombian law allows prospective parents and their chosen adoption service provider to work with ICBF or an authorized adoption institution (IAPA). A number of U.S. adoption service providers have pre-established relationships with IAPAs. Adopting with the assistance of an IAPA can be more expensive than adopting directly through ICBF. Prospective parents should review the pros and cons of both options with their adoption service provider before making a final decision about which option to pursue.
For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Colombia, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Colombia and U.S. immigration law.
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, provide biometrics, and cooperate in a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements. 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 Colombia’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 Colombia as part of your adoption application. Colombia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Colombia’s law.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
To request a referral, prospective adoptive parents need to submit the following documents (in addition to the Form I-800A approval notice) to ICBF or IAPA:
Note: Civil documents submitted in the referral package must be originals or official copies issued by the relevant civil office. Non-civil documents must be signed and notarized. All documents must include an official Spanish translation by a qualified translator. The only exception to these requirements is the family photo album.
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 be admitted to 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. Embassy in Bogotá responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Colombia.
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 (which will begin with “BGT” followed by 10 digits) 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. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's biological 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.
The local representative of your adoption service provider submits additional items in person to the U.S. Embassy in Bogota on your behalf:
Note: This payment must be made in person at the embassy, although the local representative may pay by cash or credit card.
The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to Colombia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Colombia if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Colombia’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed. A representative of your adoption service provider will need to come to the embassy to collect this letter and deliver it to ICBF.
Warning: Do not attempt to adopt a child in Colombia 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 Colombia
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Colombia, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption in Colombia.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Colombia generally includes the following:
Cohabitation Period: Prospective adoptive parents must live with the child in Colombia for a set period of time before ICBF will allow the family to file their final adoption paperwork with a Colombian court. The minimum period of time for cohabitation depends on the age and circumstances of the child(ren). Time frames are listed below:
Note: It is possible that ICBF will require longer cohabitation periods depending on the needs of the child(ren). The ICBF adoption committee will decide the exact timeframe on a case-by-case basis.
Note: For children adopted by two parents, Colombian law requires that both parents travel to Colombia for the cohabitation period with the child and for the initial court date. Only one parent is required to remain in Colombia following the initial hearing with the judge. Should one parent choose to return to the United States, the departing parent must first go to a Colombian notary to prepare a travel authorization to allow the child to travel to the United States with only one parent (the parent that remains with the child in Colombia).
Your Adoption Service Provider must be authorized by the Colombian government to work in Colombia. Contact Colombia’s central authority, ICBF, for a list of accredited U.S. adoption service providers authorized by the Colombian government to facilitate adoptions in Colombia. Not all Hague accredited adoption service providers are authorized to operate in Colombia. You can also use the Department of State’s Adoption Service Provider search tool to find an accredited provider. We recommend that you contact your potential provider(s) directly to verify that they are authorized to assist with adoptions in Colombia.
Before traveling to Colombia, we recommend that you confirm with your adoption service provider the services they will provide in Colombia. Although the Colombian government requires adoption service providers to assist you throughout your time in Colombia, families have reported differing levels of support. In particular, we recommend confirming the type of translation assistance you will receive during the process as well as whether the local representative will attend any meetings with you.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once 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:
Certificate of Conformity
Your adoption representative will take the adoption decree issued by a family judge to the ICBF national headquarters to obtain a Certificate of Conformity which you will need to present to the U.S. Embassy on the day of your child’s immigrant visa interview.
You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child.
If you have finalized the adoption in Colombia, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
At present, Colombia does not have any provisions which would allow for the electronic delivery of the adoption decree or the new birth certificate. Your adoption service provider will usually make arrangements to hand-deliver a notarized copy of the adoption decree to the registrar’s office where your child was originally registered. That office will prepare a new birth certificate that someone will need to collect. While this process usually takes only a few days, some families have experienced delays of a week or more due to difficulties in delivering/receiving documents. Families may wish to consult with their adoption service provider prior to traveling to Colombia to review how much additional time this process could require.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Colombia. Most families take the child’s new birth certificate to the Colombian Passport Office located at Calle 100 in Bogota to obtain the child’s passport. A passport costs approximately $65 and is generally available for pick-up within two days.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
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 24 hours. It is not usually 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 Bogotá before making final travel arrangements. Additional information on immigrant visa processing can be found on our website.
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 upon admission to the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including that the child is under the age of eighteen.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child 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 Colombia
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 Colombia, see the Department of State’s country page..
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 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 in Colombia to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
For adoptions completed on or after August 12, 2021, Colombia requires post-adoption reports as follows:
We urge you to comply with Colombia’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 Colombia’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 adoption.
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 your adopted child wants to learn about their biological family, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Bogotá, 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/A 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 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 Colombia
Carrera 45, No. 24B-27
Tel: 011-57-1-275-2000, 2:00–3:00 p.m. (Colombian Standard Time)
Email: IVBogota@state.gov, Attn: Adoptions
Colombia’s Adoption Authority
Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF)
Subdirección de Adopciones
Avenida Carrera 68 No. 64C – 75
Tel: 011- 4377630 ext. 101000 o 101062
Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008Tel: (202) 387-8338
Fax: (202) 232-8643
Colombia also has consulates in: Houston, TX; Atlanta, GA; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; Chicago, IL; Boston, MA; San Juan, PR; New York, NY; Miami, FL
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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