Russia Travel Advisory
October 4, 2022

Do Not Travel and Leave Immediately

Intercountry Adoption

English

Country Information

Colombia

Colombia
Republic of Colombia
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.

Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.

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:

  • Arauca, Cauca (except Popayán), and Norte de Santander departments due to crime and terrorism.

 

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.

On June 23, 2016, the Colombian government signed a peace agreement with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC). However, the National Liberation Army (ELN), Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia - People’s Army (FARC-EP), and Segunda Marquetalia terrorist organizations continue plotting attacks in Colombia, and 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 cause the shutdown of local roads and major highways, often without prior notice or estimated reopening timelines. Road closures may significantly reduce access to public transportation and airports, and may disrupt travel both within and between cities. During nationwide protests earlier in 2021, several cities experienced vandalism, looting, and destruction. Some demonstrations have resulted in fatalities and injuries.

U.S. government personnel cannot travel freely throughout Colombia for security reasons.

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.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

... [READ MORE]

Hague Convention Participation

Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?


Intercountry adoptions to the United States from Colombia and from the United States to Colombia are possible.

Hague Convention Information

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.

U.S. Immigration Requirements

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.

Who Can Adopt

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:

  • Minimum Residency: There are no residency requirements for intercountry adoptions from Colombia, but 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). More information about the cohabitation period can be found under Step 5.

  • Age of Adopting Parents:  Prospective adoptive parent(s) must be 25 years old and at least 15 years older than the child to be adopted. In practice, newborns are assigned to younger couples and older children to older couples.

  • Marriage:  Colombia permits adoption by both married couples and unmarried individuals, although Colombia has significantly stricter requirements on adoptions by unmarried individuals.  In the case of unmarried cohabitants, the prospective adoptive parents may establish their status as a stable, permanent couple in accordance with applicable Colombian law.

  • Minimum Income:  Prospective adoptive parents are required to submit documentation confirming their ability to provide for the adopted child.

  • Other requirements:  Same-sex couples are permitted to adopt in Colombia.

Who Can Be Adopted

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:

  • Eligibility for adoption:  Private adoptions are not possible in Colombia.  Intercountry adoption is only possible for children in state (ICBF) care who have been determined to be eligible for intercountry adoption. Colombian law allows adoption by direct relinquishment to a blood relative within the third degree of consanguinity or second degree of affinity. (Chart explaining consanguinity/affinity.) U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents of a relative child may still have to follow the Convention process. Read more on Adopting a Relative for Immigration to the United States

  • Adoptability Review:  Most intercountry adoptions from Colombia occur after a child welfare official issues a declaration of adoptability following an extensive review of the child’s living situation and his/her biological and extended family’s ability to care for the child.

  • Age of Adoptive Child:  ICBF has established specific age ranges for different types of children and different family compositions.
    • Prospective adoptive parents with Colombian citizenship may apply to adopt children under the age of 16 (up to 18 if adopted along with a younger sibling).
    • ICBF does not accept new intercountry adoption applications from non-Colombian citizens resident in Colombia or living abroad interested in adopting a child under 6 years and 11 months of age, unless ICBF considers the child to have special characteristics or needs.
    • Please note that for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who meets the age and other requirements to immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please see the USCIS website for special rules on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18.
       
  • Sibling Adoptions:  Sibling adoptions may take place in Colombia.  Please see the Special Needs or Medical Conditions section below for more information.

  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions:  ICBF’s highest priority is to find homes for children with special characteristics or needs:
    • Three or more siblings
    • Two siblings, one older than 10 years of age
    • Any child older than 10 years of age with no diseases or disabilities
    • Any child of any age with a physical or mental disability
    • Any child with a chronic disease (HIV, cardiac, liver, among others)

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).

How to Adopt

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)

The Process

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:

  • Ensuring that all six adoption services defined at 22 CFR 96.2 are provided consistent with applicable laws and regulations;
  • Supervising and being responsible for any supervised providers, and otherwise complying with the requirements regarding the provision of adoption services using other providers (see 22 CFR 96.14); and
  • Developing and implementing a service plan in accordance with 22 CFR 96.44.

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

  • If both the United States and Colombia determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Colombia’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is eligible for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in Colombia or IAPA may provide you with a referral.  
  • 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 Colombia will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral.  
  • 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 adhere to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS with respect to the number of children and capacity to deal with any special 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 Colombia.  Learn more about this critical decision.

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:

  • Application form for adoption (this can be provided by ICBF or found on the ICBF website);
  • Birth certificate(s) of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • Marriage certificate or proof of common law relationship of prospective adoptive parents;
  • Copy of photo identification.  Colombian citizens must provide a copy of their citizenship card, independent of whether they hold another nationality;
  • Letter of commitment to participate in and provide information for the assessment, preparation, and selection of families for adoption proceedings;
  • Social and psychological study of the prospective adoptive family that establishes physical, mental, moral, and social capacity.  The home study required by USCIS can fulfill both the U.S. and Colombian requirements. ICBF reserves the right to request additional information or clarification of any information included in this study.
    • Note:  Diagnosis and treatment of mental health issues with prescription medication is much more common in the United States than in Colombia. As a result, ICBF staff and family judges (who must approve the adoption) may have additional questions for families in these circumstances. By including a psychological study prepared by a psychologist or psychiatrist with their initial submission, a family in this situation can provide additional information that could help avoid delays in the Colombian approval process.
  • Medical examination(s) by board-certified physicians clearly stating that the prospective adoptive parent is mentally and physically capable of caring for a child.
    • Note:  Prospective adoptive parents who are taking (or have recently taken) prescription medication for mental illnesses, including attention deficit disorder, any type of depression, or any psychological or emotional issue, must ensure that the medical exam includes a diagnosis of the issue and a discussion of the treatment.  Prospective adoptive parents who have been arrested for any drug or alcohol related offense (to include possession and driving under the influence) should ensure that the medical exam clearly discusses whether there is any evidence of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction;
  • National law enforcement clearance issued by a competent police authority. For U.S. citizens, this consists of a set of fingerprints, and their results, issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). 
    • Note:  Prospective adoptive parents with a criminal record, even if the charges were subsequently dismissed, should ensure the home study includes a detailed discussion of the nature of the charges, their resolution, and whether this criminal history would affect their abilities as parents.
  • Authorization of intecountry adoption eligibility issued by the relevant United States authority (See Section 2, ‘Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt).
  • Birth certificates of any children previously adopted by the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  • Certificate of financial ability and employment letters explaining length of service and monthly salary received in U.S. dollars;
  • If self-employed, a certified document regarding the parent or parents’ financial resources or last income tax return with supporting documents;
  • If there were previous marriages or partners of the prospective adoptive parent(s), proof of divorce and the reason(s) for the dissolutions;
  • Notarized statement clarifying any changes in name or "also known as" name. 
    • Note:  Generally, Colombian women do not change their name upon marriage.  As a result, Colombian courts are accustomed to birth certificates, marriage certificates, and passports with no variation in name. If you have documents in both maiden and married names, you must submit a notarized statement indicating the reasons for the discrepancies in your documents;
  • Signed commitment to complete post-adoption reporting requirements; and
  • Family photo album. The format for the album should be CD or USB.  ICBF and IAPA staff use this album during the matching process to get a more complete sense of the family and living situation. Additionally, ICBF and IAPA staff share this album with the child to prepare him or her to meet the family and transition to his or her new family and home.

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:

  • Two (2) color photographs of the child on a white background. The total size of the photo must be 5 cm x 5 cm with the child’s head size measuring 3 cm x 3 cm.
  • The $230 immigrant visa application fee. 

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:

  • Role of Adoption Authority or Competent Authority:  Colombian law does not allow private adoptions. Children may be adopted only through ICBF or IAPAs. ICBF or the IAPA will match the child with the prospective adoptive parent(s) and issue the required paperwork before the case moves to the Colombian courts. Once a family judge issues an adoption decree, ICBF will issue the Certificate of Conformity for all adoption cases (whether completed through ICBF or an IAPA).

  • Role of the Court:  The Colombian family courts require a letter from the U.S. Embassy in Bogota stating that the embassy will issue an immigrant visa to the child if all adoption and U.S. immigrant requirements are met. (Email IVBogota@state.gov to request this letter.)  When all documentation is completed, the family judge will provide the adoption decree which the family can then use to obtain a new Colombian birth certificate from the National Registrar and a new Colombian passport from the Colombian passport office.

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:

  • For children 23 months or younger, prospective adoptive parents must live with the child for at least 3 days;
  • For children between 2 and 7 years old, prospective adoptive parents must live with the child for at least 5 days;
  • For children 8 years and older, and all sibling groups, prospective adoptive parents must live with the child(ren) for at least 8 days;
  • For children who participated in an exchange program, prospective adoptive parents must live with the child for at least 6 days.

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).

  • Role of Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Providers:
    Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services in your case, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention intercountry adoption case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
    • Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
    • Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
    • Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
    • Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
    • Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
    • When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement. 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.

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.

  • Adoption Application:  Prospective adoptive parents can find a description of the adoption process as well as the adoption application here.

  • Time Frame:  There is no set time frame for completing an intercountry adoption from Colombia. There are many factors that determine how long the adoption and visa process takes, including paperwork approval times, desired gender and age of the child, and the age of the prospective adoptive parent(s). Adoptive parents have reported the entire process taking 18 to 30 months from the start of the home study process.

  • Adoption Fees:
    • It is difficult to predict how much the entire adoption process will cost, as each case is unique. Adoptive parents have reported spending between $12,000 and $30,000 to complete the adoption process.  
    • In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency should itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. 
    • ICBF does not charge for administrative processing.  Families working with an IAPA can find the list of allowable fees published on ICBF’s webpage.
    • We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of Colombia, 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 Colombia 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.
    • The IAA makes 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 central authority, or to engage another person as an agent to take any such action. 
       
  • Documents Required:  See the section “Be Matched With a Child in Colombia.”

    Note:
      Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents:  The United States and Colombia are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority. You may be asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic. The U.S. Department of State’s Authentications Office has additional information on the subject.

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.

Birth Certificate

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.

Colombian Passport

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

  • After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child you need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Bogotá.
  • After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption 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. Embassy in Bogotá by email at IVBogota@state.gov to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment. Include in your email request a copy of the child’s biographical data page from the new passport.
  • In general, the Embassy can offer an appointment the next business day as long as you or your adoption representative send the request and a copy of the passport biographical data page before 4:00 p.m. 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 Form I-800 provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.
  • 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). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 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, along with the following documents: 
    • Child’s new Colombian passport
    • Child’s new birth certificate and a copy of the child’s birth certificate prior to the adoption
    • Administrative resolution of the adoption that contains the declaration of adoptability. This document must include ICBF’s approval
    • Final adoption decree
    • Medical examination results

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.

Traveling Abroad

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).

After Adoption

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements

For adoptions completed on or after August 12, 2021, Colombia requires post-adoption reports as follows:

  • Children up to age 7 years, 11 months (at time of adoption court order): 4 reports total at six-month intervals after adoption
  • Children aged 8 years and above (at time of adoption court order): 6 reports total at six-month intervals after adoption

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.

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. 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 busquedaorigenesadoptados@icbf.gov.co.

COMPLAINTS

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.

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Colombia
Carrera 45, No. 24B-27
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel:  011-57-1-275-2000, 2:00–3:00 p.m. (Colombian Standard Time)
Fax:  011-57-1-275-4545
Email:   IVBogota@state.gov, Attn: Adoptions
Internet:  co.usembassy.gov

Colombia’s Adoption Authority
Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar (ICBF)
Subdirección de Adopciones
Avenida Carrera 68 No. 64C – 75
Bogotá, Colombia
Tel:  011- 4377630 ext. 101000 o 101062
Email:  atencionalciudadano@icbf.gov.co
Internet:  www.icbf.gov.co

Embassy of Colombia
2118 Leroy Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008Tel: (202) 387-8338
Fax: (202) 232-8643
Email:   embassyofcolombia@colombiaemb.org
Internet:  http://colombiaemb.org/

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
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C.  20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747
Email:  Adoption@state.gov
Internet:  adoption.state.gov

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
Email:  NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS Contact Center
Tel:  1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
Internet:  uscis.gov

Last Updated: November 22, 2022

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bogota
Calle 24 Bis No. 48-50
Bogotá, D.C. Colombia
Telephone
+(57) (1) 275-2000
Emergency
+(57) (1) 275-2000
Fax
No Fax

Colombia Map