Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Democratic Republic of Congo Intercountry Adoption Information
Reconsider travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do Not Travel To:
Violent crime, such as armed robbery, armed home invasion, and assault, while rare compared to petty crime, is not uncommon, and local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crime. Be aware that assailants may pose as police or security agents.
Many cities throughout the country experience demonstrations, some of which have turned violent. Police authorities have at times responded with heavy-handed tactics that have resulted in civilian casualties and arrests.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens outside of Kinshasa due to extremely limited infrastructure and poor security conditions.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information Page.
If you decide to travel to the Democratic Republic of the Congo:
North Kivu and Ituri Provinces: Level 4: Do Not Travel
Sporadic but severe outbreaks of violence targeting civilians, including killing, rape, kidnapping, and pillaging, continue throughout North Kivu, South Kivu, Tanganyika, Haut Lomami, Ituri, Bas-Uele, and Haut-Uele provinces.
A significant number of both confirmed and probable cases of Ebola have been reported in nine health zones of Congo’s North Kivu and Ituri provinces. Health care workers assisting in Ebola response have been harassed, attacked, and even killed.
The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in North Kivu and Ituri provinces as U.S. government travel to these areas is restricted.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
The Eastern DRC Region and the Three Kasai Provinces: Level 4: Do Not Travel
Parts of eastern DRC and the provinces of Kasai Oriental, Kasai Central, and Kasai Occidental are unstable due to armed group activity and military operations. Major outbreaks of violence include the targeting of civilians in these areas.
The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in eastern DRC region and the three Kasais provinces as U.S. government travel to these regions is restricted.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Last Update: Reissued with updates to the information on Ebola risk indicator.
The Democratic 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 Democratic Republic of the Congo:
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Democratic 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 the Democratic 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 the Democratic 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 Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authorities
Ministry of Gender and Family
Ministry of Justice
Ministry of Social Affairs, Division of Urban Affairs
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Ministry of Interior and Security, General Direction of Migration
The process for adopting a child from the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following steps:
Before taking steps to adopt a child from the Democratic 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 adoption agencies authorized to provide services in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. However, many U.S.-based adoption agencies work with specific local representatives in the Democratic 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 Democratic Republic of the Congo are automatically accredited to provide adoption services by virtue of their profession. The U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa maintains a list of attorneys on its website 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of the Democratic 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 central adoption authority or other authorized entity of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to be found eligible to adopt by the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
If a child is eligible for intercountry adoption, the competent adoption authority or other authorized entity in the Democratic 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 the Democratic 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.
Prospective adoptive parents should know that, in the case of children who are Wards of the State, the “Guardianship Council” of the local government must first release the child for adoption.
The process for finalizing the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo generally includes the following:
After you finalize the adoption in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, USCIS must determine whether the child meets the definition of anorphan 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 Kinshasa.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Kinshasa 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.
In addition to the required supporting U.S. documents, adoptive parents filing the Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, for children adopted from the Democratic Republic of the Congo should present the following Congolese documents with the petition:
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 the Democratic 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.
Congolese birth certificates may be obtained at the commune where the child was born. The price for Congolese birth certificates can range from $20 to $50 and takes up to five days to issue. The child may retain his or her own name; however, if the adoptive family wishes the child to acquire their name, the change can be ordered in the court’s Jugement d'Adoption. The Jugement can be provided to the commune as a basis for adoptive parents or their representative to seek an amended birth certificate.
Adoptive parents are advised that the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa does not accept Attestation de Naissance documents for immigration purposes because the Attestation de Naissance is a report of birth used for administrative purposes. It has no juridical value and is only valid for three months. Adoptive parents, their local agency representatives, or their local attorneys should make sure they acquire one of the following accepted civil documents as proof of the adopted child’s birth:
The Democratic 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 the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Adoptive parents or their lawyers should go to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to apply for a Congolese passport for the adoptive child. The application and passport cost approximately $170 dollars. Passport issuance takes approximately two weeks.
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 Kinshasa. 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.
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. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa 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 the Democratic 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 the Democratic 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 the Democratic 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 Democratic Republic of the Congo does not have any post-adoption reporting requirements.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. 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 Kinshasa, 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
U.S. Embassy in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
310, Avenue des Aviateurs
République Démocratique du Congo
Tel: +243 81 884-6623 (Mondays through Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m.) or +243-81-880-556-0151
The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s Adoption Authorities
Direction Générale de Migration
65, Boulevard du 30 Juin
Commune de la Gombe
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D.Congo
Tel: + +243 81 682 77 82 or +243 99 994 27 67
Email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Division of Urbaine des Affaires Sociale
33 Avenue Busudjano
Quartier Ancien Combattant
Commune de Kasavubu
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Tel: +243 99 873 5200 or +243 89 991 5933
Tribunal Pour Enfants – Kinshasa
Terrain Saint Therese
Quartier 5 Commune de N’Djili
Ville de Kinshasa, R.D. Congo
Tel : +243 81 065 21 23
Embassy of the Democratic Republic of the Congo
1726 M Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 234-7690
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 immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
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