Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Israel Intercountry Adoption Information
Summary: Terrorist groups, lone-wolf terrorists and other violent extremists continue plotting possible attacks in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza. Terrorists and violent extremists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Israel and the West Bank and Gaza without warning. There has been a marked increase in demonstrations throughout Israel, some with little or no warning.
Some areas have increased risk. Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Israel and the West Bank, and Gaza.
Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.
Do Not Travel To:
Exercise Increased Caution When Traveling To:
If you decide to travel to Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza.
Do not travel due to terrorism, civil unrest, and armed conflict.
The U.S. government is unable to provide routine or 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 the security infrastructure in Gaza. The security environment within Gaza and on its borders is dangerous and volatile. Sporadic mortar or rocket fire and corresponding Israeli military responses may occur at any time. During periods of unrest or armed conflict, the crossings between Gaza with Israel and Egypt may be closed.
Visit our website for Travel to High Risk Areas.
If you decide to travel to Gaza:
Israel – Exercise increased caution
Exercise increased caution due to terrorism and civil unrest.
U.S. government employees are currently restricted from personal travel:
The Embassy can impose even greater travel restrictions on its personnel, with little to no notice due to increased security issues or threats.
West Bank – Exercise Increased Caution
Exercise increased caution due to terrorism and civil unrest.
U.S. government travel throughout the West Bank is limited. U.S. government employees are currently restricted from all personal travel in the West Bank, except:
The Embassy can impose even greater travel restrictions on its personnel, with little to no notice due to increased security issues or threats.
Israel is a 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 must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption 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 Israel.
Please Note: Adoption in Israel by non-Israeli citizens is rare and is possible only through the Israeli Central Agency for International Adoption.
PALESTINIAN ADOPTION PROCEDURES:
The Palestinian Authority is not a signatory to the Hague Adoption Convention. The Palestinian Authority Ministry of Social Development (MoSD) is the only official entity authorized to grant Palestinian adoptions, regardless of the religion of the child. (NOTE: U.S. PAPs following the Palestinian Adoption Procedures will use the Orphan process.) All adoptive parents must be an existing family consisting of two spouses residing together. All adoptive families must also be Palestinian citizens even if residence is outside of the West Bank or Gaza, and priority is given to adoptive families residing in the West Bank or Gaza. MoSD can be contacted as follows: telephone #: 022948426 (+970-2-294-8426) fax #: 022989096 (+970-2-298-9096).
Christian Adoption under the Palestinian Authority
Christian families are permitted to adopt a child if there is evidence that the child is Christian. 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 view our flyer on Adoption of Children from Countries in which Islamic Shari'a Law is observed.
If a U.S. couple identifies a child to adopt, the couple must first pursue custody with the Palestinian Authority District Court. Only after custody is granted, can a U.S. couple pursue the U.S. intercountry adoption process and apply for an IR-4 immigrant visa for the child from the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem under the category "to be adopted in the U.S.".
Historically, all Palestinian adoption cases that have been handled by the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem have involved children from the West Bank. The Embassy has not yet encountered an adoption case from Gaza. Note: Adoptions issued under the Palestinian Authority do not follow the Hauge Adoption Convention process described below; instead reference USCIS Orphan Process for general information about the Orphan process.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Israel, or 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 adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Israel have determined that placement of the child within Israel has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.
In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements imposed by the Government of Israel:
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).
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 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 Embassy 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 Embassy 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 U.S. 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.
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.
6. Apply for Immigrant Visa for Your Child and 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:
You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child.
If you have finalized the adoption in Israel, 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 of a child from the West Bank or Gaza 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.
To obtain a new Israeli birth certificate, contact the Israeli Ministry of the Interior and present court documents listing the child’s adoptive parents (and new name, if applicable). To obtain a new Palestinian Authority birth certificate, contact the Palestinian Authority Ministry of the Interior and present court documents listing the child’s adoptive parents (and new name, if applicable).
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Israel or the Palestinian Authority. Contact the relevant Ministry of the Interior to obtain an Israeli or Palestinian Authority passport or travel document for the child.
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 Jerusalem. 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, 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 Jerusalem by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment. 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. 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.
Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem processes immigrant visas for non-U.S. citizens located in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza. Additional information concerning immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem can be found on the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem’s website: https://il.usembassy.gov/visas/immigrant-visas/.
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 Jerusalem 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 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 admission into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s admission 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 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 Israel, or the West Bank and Gaza
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 Israel, or the West Bank and Gaza, 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 Jerusalem, to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Israel, or the West Bank and Gaza, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption Reporting Requirements
We urge you to comply with Israel’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 Israel’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
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 you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Jerusalem, 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.
U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
14 David Flusser
Jerusalem 9378322, Israel
Tel: (972) (02) 630-4000
Palestinian Authority Adoption Authority
Palestinian Ministry of Social Development (MoSD).
telephone #: 022948426 (+970-2-294-8426)
fax #: 022989096 (+970-2-298-9096)
Branch Office Tel Aviv
71 HaYarkon Street
Tel Aviv 6343229, Israel
Tel: (972) (03) 519-7575
Israel's Adoption Authority
Central Agency for International Adoption
Ministry of Labor
10 Yad Harutzim Street
Tel: 972-2-6708177 / 8
Embassy of Israel
3514 International Dr. N.W.
Washington DC 20008
* Israel also has consulates in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia and San Francisco
Office of Children's Issues
U.S. Department of State
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
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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