Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Israel Intercountry Adoption Information
Exercise increased caution in Israel due to terrorism. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do not travel to:
Reconsider travel to:
Terrorist groups and lone-wolf terrorists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Jerusalem and the West Bank without warning.
U.S. government personnel can travel freely in Israel, except to areas in close proximity to Gaza, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt. Travel of U.S. government personnel is extremely limited throughout the West Bank, and occasionally portions of Jerusalem are off limits to personnel. The U.S. government prohibits its employees from traveling Gaza.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to the areas covered in this document:
Jerusalem: Violent clashes, protests, and terror attacks have occurred throughout the city, including in the Old City. Acts of terrorism have resulted in death and injury to bystanders, including U.S. citizens. During periods of unrest, the Government of Israel may restrict access to and within portions of Jerusalem.
West Bank: U.S. government travel throughout the West Bank is extremely limited.
Terror attacks and violent clashes in the West Bank have resulted in the deaths and injury of U.S. citizens and others. During periods of unrest, the Government of Israel may restrict access to and within the West Bank, and some areas may be placed under curfew.
Visit our website for Travel to High Risk Areas.
Gaza: The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Gaza as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling there.
Hamas, a U.S. government-designated foreign terrorist organization, controls security in Gaza. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile.
Demonstrations occur on a frequent basis and may turn violent without warning.
Sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses may occur at any time.
U.S. government employees are not allowed to travel to Gaza and are restricted from traveling close to the Gaza demarcation line.
Visit our website for Travel to High Risk Areas.
Restrictions on U.S. Government Employee Travel
Israel is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore all adoptions between Israel and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Please Note: Adoption in Israel by non-Israeli citizens is rare and is possible only through the Israeli Central Agency for International Adoption.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, 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.
Adoption between the United States and Israel is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Israel, you must first be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Israel also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
Because Israel is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Israel must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Israel attempt to place a child with a family in Israel before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Israeli requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adopteefor you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Relinquishment/Abandonment Requirements: Either the birth parents must provide a signed statement that they are willing to abandon the child or a court must declare the birth parents as unknown or unable to raise the child
The Central Agency for International Adoption, managed by Ms. Orna Hirshfeld, is the national adoption authority. Ms. Nehama Tal has been assigned to be the inspector on international adoption.
Because Israel is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Israel must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention's requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Israel before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
If both the United States and Israel determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Israel may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Israeli adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Israel generally includes the following:
TIME FRAME: To adopt a baby in Israel, there is approximately a 5-year waiting list.
When adopting a child with special needs, there is at least a six-month wait (depending on the age of the child and the parents' abilities).
PALESTINIAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES: These are the Palestinian adoption procedures in the West bank and Gaza according to the consulate in Jerusalem:
Prospective adoptive parents can obtain an adoption decree from the ecclesiastical court of their community (e.g. Latin, Greek, Armenian, etc). On the basis of the adoption decree issued by the court of the respective church, a Palestinian Birth Certificate can be issued and subsequently a Palestinian Passport (please note that there are sometimes difficulties in receiving civil documents from the Palestinian Authority).
The Palestinian Authority opposes adoption by foreign parents, because, according to an unnamed source, Palestinian children must remain in Palestine. Additionally, Islamic Shari'a Law does not allow for adoption as it is recognized in the United States; rather, they allow for "guardianship". Please view our flyer on Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari'a Law is observed.
If a couple is able to locate a child, the couple must pursue custody with the Palestinian Authority District Court. Only after this is granted, can U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv pursue an IR-4 immigrant visa for the child under the category "to be adopted in the U.S. ".
All adoption cases that were handled in the Jerusalem Consulate were from the West Bank, and they have not yet encountered one from Gaza .
Please note: According to the Israeli adoption agency representative, adoption in Gaza is not possible since Islam does not enable adoption. According to the agency representative, about three years ago Chairman Arafat ordered that only Muslim couples could adopt children from Gaza.
ADOPTION FEES: In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
There are no government processing fees associated with adoption in Israel. The U.S. Embassy in Israel discourages the payment of any fees that are not properly receipted, "donations," or "expediting" fees, that may be requested from prospective adoptive parents. Such fees have the appearance of "buying" a baby and put all future adoptions in Israel at risk.
Please note: U.S. citizenship is not granted at U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv in Israel. The child is granted an immigrant visa which enables him/her to be admitted into the United States. If the child is issued an IR-3 visa, he or she will be granted automatic citizenship upon admission into the U.S. If the child is issued an IR-4 visa, he or she must be readopted in the U.S. In which case, it is only after a full and final adoption decree has been obtained in the U.S. that the child will acquire U.S. citizenship under INA 320. This must be done while the child is under the age of 18.
Bring Your Child Home Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-800 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage.
An interview will be scheduled for the adoptive parents and child with the Consular Officer following receipt by the Embassy of the approval of the I-800 that was filed with USCIS and all the supporting documents, and after completion of the adoption. If they meet all visa requirements per law, an immigrant visa (wither IR-3 or IR-4) will be issued to the child. Occasionally, parents who expected to obtain a final and valid adoption abroad are unable to do so and must apply for an IR-4 visa for their child instead of an IR-3.
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate or embassy before making final travel arrangements.
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Israel. 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 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.
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Israel, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
The Department of State provides Country Specific Information for every country of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
When traveling during the adoption process, we encourage you to register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Israel, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Israel require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Israel and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Israel
Immigration Visa Unit
71 Hayarkon Street
Tel Aviv , Israel 63903
Tel: (972) (03) 519-7601
Fax: (972) (03) 519-7619
Israel's Adoption Authority
Central Agency for International Adoption
Ministry of Labor
10 Yad Harutzim Street
Tel: 972-2-6708177 / 8
* Israel also has consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco
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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