Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Iraq Intercountry Adoption Information
Updated to reflect the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. government personnel and eligible family members.
Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, armed conflict, civil unrest, and Mission Iraq’s limited capacity to provide support to U.S. citizens.
On October 20, 2023, the Department ordered the departure of eligible family members and non-emergency U.S. government personnel from U.S. Embassy Baghdad and U.S. Consulate General Erbil due to increased security threats against U.S. government personnel and interests.
Country Summary: U.S. citizens in Iraq face high risks to their safety and security, including the potential for violence and kidnapping. Terrorist and insurgent groups regularly attack Iraqi security forces and civilians. Anti-U.S. militias threaten U.S. citizens and international companies throughout Iraq. Attacks using improvised explosive devices, indirect fire, and unmanned aerial vehicles occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad and other major cities. In an emergency, consular services to U.S. citizens in Iraq are limited due to severe restrictions on the movements of U.S. government personnel.
Demonstrations, protests, and strikes occur frequently throughout the country. These events can develop quickly without prior notice, often interrupting traffic, transportation, and other services, and sometimes turning violent.
Do not travel near Iraq’s northern borders due to the continued threat of attacks by terrorist groups, armed conflict, aerial bombardment, and civil unrest. U.S. citizens should especially avoid areas near armed groups in northern Iraq, which have been targeted with aerial strikes by neighboring countries’ militaries.
U.S. citizens should not travel through Iraq to engage in armed conflict in Syria, where they would face extreme personal risks (kidnapping, injury, or death) and legal risks (arrest, fines, and expulsion). The Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq has stated that it will impose prison sentences of up to ten years on individuals who illegally cross the Iraq-Syria border. Additionally, fighting on behalf of or supporting designated terrorist organizations is a crime under U.S. law that can result in prison sentences and large fines in the United States.
Because of security concerns, U.S. government personnel in Baghdad are instructed not to use Baghdad International Airport. Due to risks to civil aviation operating in the Baghdad Flight Information Region, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has extended for an additional two years its Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) prohibiting certain flights at altitudes below 32,000 feet. For more information, U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Iraq.
If you decide to travel to Iraq:
Please consult a local attorney or adoption agency familiar with laws and regulations regarding intercountry adoption in Iraq. Additionally, prospective adoptive parents should refer to our information sheet on Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari’a Law is observed for more information.
The Government of Iraq, through its Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA), may accord guardianship of an Iraqi child of the Islamic faith to a member of the child’s extended family or a family friend, provided that the guardian is an Iraqi national of the Islamic faith and the child will be cared for in Iraq. A family cannot obtain guardianship over an Iraqi child who is not of the Islamic faith, regardless of the religious faith of the family. Foreign citizens cannot be guardians. Questions regarding eligibility for guardianship may be directed to MOLSA.
Iraq 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). However, under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the requirement that adoption service providers be accredited or approved, and therefore meet the accreditation standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also applies in non-Convention (“orphan”) cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider act as the primary provider in every Convention or non-Convention intercountry adoption case, and that adoption service providers providing any adoption services, as defined at 22 CFR Part 96.2, on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required. 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 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website on the impact of the UAA on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the home study requirements listed at 8 CFR 204.311, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
U.S. citizens interested in adopting children from Iraq should contact the adoption authority of Iraq to inquire about applicable laws and procedures. U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents living in Iraq who would like to adopt a child from the United States or from a third country should also contact Iraq’s adoption authority. See contact information below.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware 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 for the child return home when possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
The Department of State occasionally receives inquiries from U.S. citizens concerned about the plight of children in Iraq and the possibility of adopting them. We share this concern for children in conflict areas and understand that some U.S. citizens want to respond by offering to open their homes and adopt these children in need.
It can be extremely difficult in such circumstances to determine whether children who appear to be orphans truly are eligible for adoption. Children may be temporarily separated from their parents or other family members during a conflict or natural disaster, and their parents or relatives may be looking for them. It is not uncommon in a hostile situation for parents to send their children out of the area, or for families to become separated during an evacuation or natural disaster. Even when it can be demonstrated that children are indeed orphaned or abandoned, they often will be cared for by other relatives.
During times of crisis, it can also be exceptionally difficult to fulfill the legal requirements for adoption of both the United States and the child's country of origin. This is especially true when civil authority breaks down. It can also be very difficult to gather documents necessary to fulfill the legal requirements of U.S. immigration law. Prospective adoptive parents may wish to consult with experienced immigration attorneys and to take extra caution when considering adopting or caring for a child under these circumstances.
There are still ways in which U.S. citizens can help the children of Iraq, such as by making a contribution to an established non-governmental organization that is well placed to respond to Iraq’s most urgent needs, including those related to the children of Iraq.
IRAQ’S ADOPTION AUTHORITY:
Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs (MOLSA)
U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or a Form I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC):
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-913-275-5480 (local); Fax: 1- 913-214-5808
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS Contact Center
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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