Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Republic of the Congo Intercountry Adoption Information
Exercise increased caution in the Republic of the Congo due to crime and civil unrest.
Reconsider travel to:
Violent crime, such as armed robbery and assault, is common.
Political demonstrations can be unpredictable and violent.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside Brazzaville. U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to the Pool Region because of ongoing violence. They must also obtain special permission to travel to Pointe Noire’s beaches due to crime.
Read the Safety and Security section on the Country Information Page.
If you decide to travel to the Republic of the Congo:
The Southern and Western Districts of the Pool Region
Military operations are ongoing and armed groupsare active in this region. Soldiers, police, and civilians have been killed and thousands of civilians displaced.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Pool Region as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel to the area.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Republic of the Congo is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention or “orphan” cases. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
U.S. prospective adoptive parents are reminded of several key items to keep in mind when considering adopting from the Republic of the Congo:
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Republic of the Congo, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. USCIS determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt from Republic of the Congo must meet the following requirements:
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must meet the following requirements of Republic of the Congo:
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 this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
The process for adopting a child from Republic of the Congo generally includes the following steps:
Before taking steps to adopt a child from Republic of the Congo, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. As of July 14, 2014, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case under the UAA, unless an exception applies. The primary provider is responsible for:
For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012.
There are no U.S. adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Republic of the Congo. Prospective adoptive parents are expected to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Congolese lawyers are automatically accredited by the government of the Republic of Congo by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville maintains a list of attorneys who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy or any guarantee of the quality of the services they may provide.
In order to adopt a child from Republic of the Congo, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Republic of the Congo and U.S. immigration law.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS to be found suitable and eligible to adopt before you identify a child to adopt. You may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition along with all the required Form I-600A application supporting documentation, including an approved home study, once you have been matched with a child and have obtained all the necessary documentation. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Regardless of which approach you take, the home study must meet the same requirements. As of July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, the home study must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311 and 22 CFR Part 96.47.
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. law, you must also submit an adoption application to the Tribunal de Grande Instance of Republic of the Congo to be found eligible to adopt by Republic of the Congo.
Congolese procedures do not include a formal matching process. Prospective adoptive parents must coordinate with their local attorney to find and be matched with a prospective adoptive child. The Tribunal de Grand Instance will require prospective adoptive parents to provide the prospective adoptive child’s birth certificate and a copy of biological parent/next of kin consent, if applicable, when applying to the Tribunal to adopt the child. An investigation into the child’s case will be conducted by the Tribunal prior to the adoption hearing.
If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in Republic of the Congo will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, will provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consult with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but each family must decide for itself whether 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 for the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Republic of the Congo’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Republic of the Congo generally includes the following:
Role of Adoption Authority: The Ministry of Justice has jurisdiction over all intercountry adoptions. Individual cases are handled by the Tribunal de Grande Instance in Brazzaville.
On certain occasions, the Ministry of Social Affairs will get involved to ensure that adoptions are undertaken in compliance with Congolese law. It also maintains a record of Congo’s abandoned children.
Role of the Court: When a child is found in an orphanage, prospective adoptive parents must ensure that the family court judge issued the Ordonnance de Placement for the child, that the child is fully registered, and that the child has an individual recording sheet before seeking to adopt him/her. The Tribunal de Grande Instance will also require the consent of any child 15 or older.
After obtaining the proper consent, the prospective adoptive parents request a hearing in open court at the Tribunal de Grande Instance. Prospective adoptive parents must submit copies of their birth certificates and the birth certificate of the prospective adoptee. TheTribunal will require proof that all interested family members of the child have been informed of the adoption and have received notice of the court hearing. After the initial hearing, the Tribunal will conduct an investigation to determine that all conditions for placement or final adoption have been met and that all documents are legitimate.
After the investigation, the Tribunal will make sure that all the conditions of the law have been met and the adoption may proceed. The adoption judgment will attest that the adoptive child has a new surname and given name. Congolese law also mandates the issuance of a new birth certificate, issued within one month after the adoption hearing. All the new information will be logged in the local town hall register.
Role of Adoption Agencies: There are no U.S. adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Republic of the Congo. Orphanages must be licensed or accredited by the Congolese government. It is customary and accepted practice to engage Congolese lawyers to carry out adoption proceedings. Attorneys licensed to practice in the Republic of the Congo are automatically accredited by the government of the Republic of Congo to provide adoption services by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville maintains a list of attorneys who have expressed a willingness to work with U.S. citizens. This list does not imply an endorsement of specific attorneys by the Embassy or any guarantee of the quality of the services they may provide.
Starting July 14, 2014, unless an exception applies, 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 case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
Adoption Application: The adoption request by the prospective parents begins with the Tribunal de Grande Instance. All documentation must be hand-delivered by the prospective adoptive parents or their attorney to the Tribunal, including the prospective adoptee’s birth certificate and, if applicable, family consent(s).
Time Frame: Intercountry adoptions in Republic of the Congo take approximately three to six months to complete from the time a dossier accepted by the adoption authority to the time the final adoption is issued. Some cases may take considerably longer.
Adoption Fees: Court fees for an adoption can range up to approximately $100. The U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville has little data from which to provide an estimate of attorneys’ fees. Fees can be kept to a minimum if, prior to the first consultation, prospective adoptive parents secure any required documents such as birth, death, marriage, and relevant court records on their own. In addition to these fees, prospective adoptive parents may be expected to pay for the care and feeding of their child after the adoption is concluded and before the U.S. immigrant visa is issued, as well as all fees for passport issuance and exit permits.
Prospective adoptive parents are advised to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by themselves directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Republic of the Congo, with your adoption service provider. Please also refer to information concerning the Hague Complaint Registry. Improper payments may have the appearance of buying achild, violate applicable law, and could put all future adoptions in Republic of the Congo at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to bribe foreign government officials to obtain or retain business. Further, the UAA and IAA make it unlawful to improperly influence relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing Central Authority functions.
Documents Required: A Congolese adoption through the Tribunal de Grande Instance requires the following documents:
Prospective adoptee’s documents:
Prospective adoptive parents’ documents:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
Authentication of Documents: 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 information on the subject.
After you finalize the adoption in Republic of the Congo, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. At the time you file your Form I-600 petition, the adjudicating officer will determine whether the UAA applies or if your case is UAA grandfathered. For more information on UAA grandfathering and transition cases, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. Unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider in your case and the adjudicating officer may ask for the name and contact information of the primary provider if not provided in your Form I-600 petition. This information is required and, without it, your Form I-600 petition cannot be approved.
If you have an approved, valid Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, you may file your Form I-600 petition either in the United States with USCIS or in person at the U.S.Embassy in Brazzaville.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Brazzaville must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination), to verify the child’s orphan status. When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.
For Form I-600 petitions filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604 determination after you file your Form I-600 petition. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the orphan adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their adopted child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.
Now that your adoption is complete and the Form I-604 determination has been completed finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, there are a few more steps to take before you and your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
Birth Certificate: If you have finalized the adoption in Republic of the Congo, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
If you have been granted legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
Congolese birth certificates are generally issued by the town registrar within one month of an adoption hearing. The adopting parents’ names, and any name changes for the child, will be added to the new birth certificate if the adoption decree orders the changes. The U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville accepts the following documents as proof of birth:
Republic of the Congo Passport: Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Republic of the Congo.
Adoptive parents or their attorneys apply to the Congolese Immigration service in Brazzaville for a Congolese passport for the adopted child. Officially, Congolese passports are free. The waiting time may vary as well.
U.S. Immigrant Visa: After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville.This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. 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.
In addition to the required supporting U.S. documents, adoptive parents filing the Form I-600 for children adopted from the Republic of the Congo should present the following Congolese documents with the petition:
Please note that each case may require different documents. The U.S. Consular Officer may request that additional documents be provided following the interview.
The Embassy generally requires 10 days to two weeks to process adoption cases, and in some situations, significantly longer. When the required documents are ready and the adopted child’s passport is issued, please contact BrazzavilleIV@state.gov to schedule an interview appointment. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Brazzaville before making final travel arrangements.
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 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 Republic of the Congo: 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 Republic of the Congo, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip: Before you travel, it is always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip: When traveling 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 Republic of the Congo, 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: The Republic of the Congo does not specify any post-adoption reporting requirements.
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. 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.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
If you have concerns about your adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Brazzaville, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-600 petition process.
The Hague Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. If you think your provider's conduct may 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 Hague Complaint Registry.
Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice
Mr. Joseph Bivihou,
Directeur de la protection légale de l’enfant
Tel: 00242 06 950 65 35
Tribunal De Grand Instance
Mr. Mathurin Bahi,
Président du Tribunal pour enfant
Ministry of Social Affairs
Ms. Sylvianne Matanda
Direction générale des affaires sociales
B.P. 545 - Brazzaville
Tel: 00242 05 531 97 99
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)
You are about to leave travel.state.gov for an external website that is not maintained by the U.S. Department of State.
Links to external websites are provided as a convenience and should not be construed as an endorsement by the U.S. Department of State of the views or products contained therein. If you wish to remain on travel.state.gov, click the "cancel" message.
You are about to visit: