Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Jamaica Intercountry Adoption Information
Last Update: Reissued with updates to crime information
Reconsider travel to Jamaica due to crime. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to many areas due to increased risk. Please read the entire Travel Advisory.
Country Summary: Violent crimes, such as home invasions, armed robberies, sexual assaults, and homicides, are common. Sexual assaults occur frequently, including at all-inclusive resorts.
Local police often do not respond effectively to serious criminal incidents. When arrests are made, cases are infrequently prosecuted to a conclusive sentence. Families of U.S. citizens killed in accidents or homicides frequently wait a year or more for final death certificates to be issued by Jamaican authorities. Emergency services and hospital care vary throughout the island, and response times and quality of care may vary from U.S. standards.
The homicide rate reported by the Government of Jamaica has for several years been among the highest in the Western Hemisphere. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to the areas listed below, from using public buses, and from driving outside of prescribed areas of Kingston at night.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Jamaica.
If you decide to travel to Jamaica:
Violence and shootings occur regularly in many neighborhoods, communities, and parishes in Jamaica. U.S. government personnel are prohibited from traveling to the following areas of Jamaica due to crime:
St. Ann’s Parish—Do Not Travel - Steer Town and the Buckfield neighborhood near Ocho Rios
St. Catherine’s Parish—Do Not Travel
All of Clarendon Parish—Do Not Travel
All of Clarendon Parish, except passing through Clarendon Parish using the T1 and A2 highways.
St Elizabeth’s Parish—Do Not Travel
Vineyard neighborhood near Alligator Pond
Hanover Parish—Do Not Travel
Logwood and Orange Bay
St. James Parish/Montego Bay—Do Not Travel
All of Montego Bay on the inland side of the A1 highway and The Queen’s Drive from San San to Harmony Beach Park
Kingston and St. Andrew Parish—Do Not Travel
Manchester Parish—Do Not Travel
Green Vale, Gray Ground, Red Ground, and Vineyard neighborhoods of Mandeville
St. Thomas Parish—Do Not Travel
Trelawny Parish—Do Not Travel
Westmoreland Parish—Do Not Travel
If you do decide to travel to the above-listed Do Not Travel areas, please visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Jamaica is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Hague countries are processed in accordance with 8 Code of Federal Regulations, Section 204.3 as it relates to orphans as defined under the Immigration and Nationality Act, Section 101(b)(1)(F).
There are two types of adoptions in Jamaica - Adoption Licenses and Adoption Orders. An Adoption License allows a Jamaican citizen child to be taken to a "scheduled country" (in this case, the United States) and to be adopted in that country (in this case, the United States). Under Jamaican law, U.S. citizens residing in the United States who are not adopting a relative will only qualify for an Adoption License. An Adoption Order signifies the full and final adoption under Jamaican law and is only available to prospective adoptive parents who are Jamaican citizens or who reside in Jamaica. An Order legally replaces an original birth certificate, as it shows date of birth, (new) parentage, and (new) name. The child's Jamaican passport information may also be changed based on the new parentage and name.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Jamaica, 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 U.S. immigration requirements, you must also meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Jamaica:
In addition to U.S. immigration requirements, Jamaica has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. In all cases, the CDA will assess the child’s suitability for adoption by conducting visits to the child’s place of residence, as well as interviews and counseling with the child, the birth parents, if applicable, and the prospective adoptive parents.
Caution: Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that not all children in orphanages or children’s homes are adoptable. 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 their child(ren)’s adoption.
Jamaica’s Adoption Authority
The CDA is the only entity legally authorized to provide adoption services in Jamaica and prospective parents must work with this Jamaican government agency when seeking to adopt a child in Jamaica.
The process for adopting a child from Jamaica generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider To Act as Your Primary Provider
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)
3. Apply to Jamaica’s Authorities to Adopt, and to be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in Jamaica (or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption)
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan (Form I-600)
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider
Before taking steps to adopt a child from Jamaica, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Jamaica, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Jamaica and U.S. immigration law. You must first submit a pre-adoption application with the CDA to be found eligible to adopt in Jamaica. The pre-adoption application asks for detailed information on the prospective adoptive parents, which the CDA uses to assess the parents’ suitability to adopt under Jamaican law.
Prospective adoptive parents residing in the United States must also submit a home study report from an approved home study provider in the United States. The CDA verifies the contents of the prospective adoptive parents’ home study by writing to the home study agency. This verifies home study authorship and obtains the home study agency's agreement to supervise the placement in the future.
Some prospective adoptive parents may choose to use a licensed adoption service provider in the United States to help with the adoption. Adoption service providers must be licensed by the U.S. state in which they operate. The Department of State provides information on selecting an adoption service provider on its website. However, in Jamaica, the CDA is the only agency legally authorized to provide adoption services.
To contact the CDA, obtain a downloadable pre-adoption application, and view the CDA’s guidance on adoptions in Jamaica, please visit their website.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may also file an I-600A Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition with U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to be found eligible and suitable to adopt.
3. Apply to Jamaica’s Authorities to Adopt and to Be Matched with a Child
Once a prospective adoptive parent is found eligible to adopt from Jamaica, the CDA and the Adoption Board will assist in locating a child suitable for adoption. There are currently eight government child care facilities which the CDA directly manages and supports on behalf of the Government of Jamaica. The CDA also provides oversight and financial assistance to over 40 private homes. The CDA can assist in matching a prospective adoptive parent with a child from either a public or private home.
If the prospective adoptive parent has already identified a child they would like to adopt, the CDA will assess the child’s suitability for adoption. In all cases, the child must be eligible to be adopted according to Jamaica’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of orphanunder U.S. immigration law.
4. Adopt the Child in Jamaica [or Obtain Gain Legal Custody of Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption]
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Jamaica generally includes the following:
The following documents are required to obtain an Adoption Order:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
5. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United Statas as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Jamaica, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services must determine whether the child meets the definition oforphan under U.S. immigration law. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are several documents your child will require before you can apply for a U.S. immigrant visa to bring your child home to the United States:
If you have received a full Adoption Order from a Jamaican court, you can obtain the actual order on security paper from the Jamaican Register General’s Department (RGD). Once an Adoption Order is issued, the child’s previous birth record is sealed and the Adoption Order issued by RGD replaces the original birth certificate.
If you have been granted an Adoption License, the birth certificate will not be amended to include your child’s new name or your name. Instead, you should obtain from the RGD the child’s original birth certificate, which lists the child’s birth parents. The Adoption License will list the same name as that on the child’s original birth certificate, as will the child’s Jamaican passport.
To obtain a Jamaican birth certificate, prospective adoptive parents apply with the Jamaican Registrar General's Department (RGD). Parents may apply in person at any RGD office in Jamaica or by mail, including from the United States, although this is more expensive. Prices also differ based on whether the applicant can provide the RGD with a birth record number and whether the applicant requests express service. For the full current fee schedule, please visit the RGD website. The main page has general contact and other information. Questions about applying for a birth certificate should be directed to the RGD.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Jamaica.
The child must appear in person at the Jamaican Passport, Immigration and Citizenship Agency (PICA) unless he or she is less than three years old. The cost of applying for a passport is $2700 Jamaican (about $30 USD) for children up to the age of 18, and $4500 Jamaican (about $50 USD) for those over 18. Two passport photos must be presented along with the Adoption Order or License.
If the adoptive parents have received a full Adoption Order, they must appear with the child for the passport application. If the adoptive parents have received an Adoption License, representatives from the CDA will assist in obtaining the child’s passport and, in most cases, will appear with the child for the passport application without the presence of the adoptive parents.
Passports generally take seven business days to be issued, though, for additional fees, passports can be issued in three business days, or the following business day. For additional information, please visit the PICA website.
There are two Passport Offices able to accept applications in Jamaica:
25 Constant Spring Road,
49 Union Street,
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain your child’s new birth certificate and passport 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 Jamaica. 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.
Once the U.S. Embassy Jamaica receives the approved Form I-600 from USCIS, the embassy will contact the prospective adoptive parent via phone or email to schedule the immigrant visa interview and provide instructions on obtaining the immigrant visa medical exam. The cost of the immigrant visa medical examination is $55 USD for children under 15 years and $110 USD for applicants 15 years and older, not including the cost of any vaccine the child may need.
Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to email the embassy with any questions. The email addresses for the Immigrant Visa section are KingstonIV@state.gov and KingstonIVappointment@state.gov. You can also find instructions for applying for an immigrant visa on the U.S. Embassy Jamaica’s website.
Note: After the final interview visa issuance 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. Please plan your travel accordingly.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s entry into the United States: A child will acquire U.S. citizenship upon entry into the United States if the adoption was finalized prior to entry and the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s entry into the United States: An adoption will need to be completed following your child’s entry into the United States for the child to acquire U.S. citizenship.
*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.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required by law to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. 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.
Obtaining a Visa to Travel to Jamaica
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may 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 affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Jamaica, 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 of the world about various issues, including the health conditions, crime, unusual 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. Enrollment makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Jamaica, 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).
The CDA may, on a case-by-case basis, require the agency that conducted the home study to submit reports to the CDA on a regular basis for up to two years after an Adoption License is issued. Post-adoption reporting is not mandated in cases that receive Adoption Orders.
We strongly urge you to comply with Jamaica’s 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 positive experiences with U.S. citizen 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. 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.
Here are some places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy Jamaica
148 Old Hope Rd.
Jamaica, West Indies
30 Munroe Road
Jamaica’s Adoption Authority
Child Development Agency (CDA)
48 Duke Street
Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20036
Jamaica also has Consulates and Consulate-Generals in Chicago, Miami, and New York City.
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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