Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Kosovo Intercountry Adoption Information
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Country Summary: Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in the Balkans region, including Kosovo. Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, local government facilities, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, parks, major sporting and cultural events, educational institutions, airports, and other public areas.
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North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan – Level 3: Reconsider Travel
Tensions within and between communities in the north of Kosovo remain a source of potential unrest in North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan.
Although recent unrest has been politically-related and does not involve tourists or members of the international community, bystanders can be affected.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the north of Kosovo as U.S. government employee travel to North Mitrovica, Leposavic, Zubin Potok, and Zvecan is restricted.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas
Kosovo 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 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.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Kosovo, 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 a child from Kosovo must meet the following requirements of Kosovo Family Law:
Under the INA 101(b)(1)(F), a child can be considered an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from both parents, or in the case where there is a sole or surviving parent who is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements of Kosovo:
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 rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
Kosovo’s Adoption Authority
Department for Social and Family Policy (DSFP), within the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare
The process for adopting a child from Kosovo 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 Kosovo’s Authorities to Adopt, and to be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in Kosovo.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
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 Kosovo, 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 Kosovo, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Kosovo and U.S. immigration law.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may 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. If you have already identified the child you wish to adopt, you may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition for the child and include all the required supporting documentation for the Form I-600A application (i.e. an approved home study) so USCIS can make a determination on your suitability and eligibility to adopt before revieiwing the child’s eligibility as an orphan. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. Unless an exception applies, the home study must be prepared by a person who is authorized under 22 CFR 96 to prepare home studies and must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311.
3. Apply to Kosovo’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. immigration law, Kosovo requires you to submit an adoption application to the Department for Social and Family Policy (DSFP) in the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare of Kosovo and be found eligible to adopt a child from Kosovo. You must go to the local Center for Social Welfare (CSW) Office and fill out the appropriate form, which then must be approved by the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare. This form is not available online.
The competent adoption authority in Kosovo, the Department for Social and Family Policy (DSFP), will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, may provide you with a referral. We encourage families to consider consulting with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child, but you must decide for yourself whether you will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for a specific child. You must also ultimately adhere to USCIS’ suitability determination (i.e. typically the Form I-600A approval notice) with respect to the number of children you are approved to adopt and the characteristics of the child(ren) (such as age, gender, nationality, and/or special need, disability, and/or impairment) that you are approved to adopt. Learn more about Health Considerations.
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Kosovo’s legal 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.
4. Adopt the Child in Kosovo
The process for finalizing the adoption in Kosovo generally includes the following:
Before an adoption can be approved and finalized by the courts, prospective adoptive parents are required to appear before the judge along with the adoptee, if the child is over the age of 10. (If a child is under the age of 10, his or her legal custodian should appear on the child’s behalf.) Once all parties consent to the adoption and the court reviews all of the documents, the adoption may be approved and finalized.
Note: See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required.
We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of Kosovo, with your adoption service provider, and, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. Improper payments may violate applicable law, or create the appearance of buying a child, and could put all future adoptions in Kosovo at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the UAA and IAA make certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful, and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement by way of compensation intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing functions as a competent authority, or to engage another person as an agent to take any such action.
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your adoption service provider will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Kosovo include:
- Local court administrative taxes
- Birth certificate fee
- Passport fee
- Legalization of documents (Apostille if required)
All documents must be translated into Albanian or Serbian (depending on the place of origin of the child). If a child’s nationality is unknown, the documents should be translated into Albanian.
The three methods local authorities accept for certifying that documents are genuine are: apostilled from the issuing authority, stamped or signed by a competent authority, or notarized by a public notary.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption in Kosovo, USCIS must determine if the child meets the definition of an orphan 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, on behalf of the child and unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider.
If you have a valid Form I-600A approval, you may file your Form I-600 petition in the United States with the USCIS National Benefits Center, or at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina, Kosovo 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.
When a Form I-600 petition is filed with the Embassy’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption, to verify the child’s orphan status. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the non-Convention adoption process. 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.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once 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, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child.
If you have finalized the adoption in Kosovo, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate. Local authorities will issue a new birth certificate to the child showing your name listed as the parent(s).
You may apply for a new birth certificate in the local town hall of the municipality where your child was born or where the adoption was finalized. The certificate is normally issued the same day and will include the child’s new name, if part of the adoption decree. You are required to present the following documents to register the birth in adoption cases:
For more information about the requirements, please check the Kosovo Government Portal web site at this link. The administrative fee to obtain a birth certificate is 1 Euro (approximately 1.30 USD).
Please see the municipality of Pristina information link for additional information (Albanian only).
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he or she will need a travel document or passport from Kosovo.
You can apply for a Kosovo passport for your child at the Center for Document Issuance, also known as the Center for Civil Registration, in the municipality where the adoption was finalized. The cost for passport services is 15 Euros (approximately 18 USD) for children under 3 years of age, and 20 Euros (approximately 23 USD) for children over the age of 3. This process usually takes about two weeks.
The child must appear with both parents when applying for a passport. The following documents (original and two copies) must be submitted:
Additional information on how to apply for a Kosovo passport is available at this link (in Albanian only).
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child at the U.S. Embassy in Pristina. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with 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. 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.
Upon receipt of the case at the U.S. Embassy, the Consular Section generally notifies the petitioner. If the consular officer determines that the child is eligible for an immigrant visa, 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 Skopje 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 Kosovo
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel to Kosovo. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Kosovo, see the Department of State’s country pages.
Note: No visa is required for tourist stays of less than 90 days. If you intend to visit for longer than 90 days, you will need to apply for a temporary residence permit. Please contact the Kosovo Ministry of Foreign Affairs for information on how to apply for a residency permit.
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 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 or Consulate in Kosovo 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 Kosovo, 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
For children adopted abroad, the Kosovo Department for Social and Family Policy requires two written reports on the psychophysical development of the child within the first two years after the adoption is finalized, one after the first year and one after the second year.
Post-adoption reports should be translated into one of the official langagues in Kosovo, preferably Albanian. Reports can be conducted by the adoptive family’s adoption service provider or the appropriate child welfare officials in the state where the child resides, and should be submitted by mail to Kosovo’s Adoption Authority:
Ministry of Labor and Social Family
Department for Social and Family Policy
UCK street, Qafe p.n. Kati III. NR. 14
10000 Pristina, Kosovo
We urge you to comply with Kosovo’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 Kosovo’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 adoptions.
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 Pristina, 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/A process.
The 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 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.
Kosovo’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Finance, Labor and Transfers
Department for Social Policy and Family
Panel for settling children without parental care in the Foster Care and for Adoption
[Magbule Koci, Senior Officer for the Protection of Abandoned Children]
Address: UCK st, Qafe p.n. Kati III. Nr. 11
10000 Pristina, Kosovo
Tel: +383-38-211-941; +383-38-200-26-018
Note: The Department for Social Policy and Family is open Monday – Friday; representatives speak English, Albanian and Serbian.
Kosovo Embassy in Washington, DC
900 19th Street, NW
Washington DC, 20006
Tel: +1 202 380 3581
Fax: +1 202 380 3628
Consular services are offered in New York only.
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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