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Latvia 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 Latvia.
Adoption regulations that came into effect on November 8, 2018 stipulate that the Latvian government will only approve applications for intercountry adoption if the prospective adoptive parents seek to adopt: 1) children living in institutions for whom an adoptive family cannot be found in Latvia; 2) stepchildren of prospective adoptive parents; or 3) children from foster care, if the adoptive child is related to the prospective adoptive parents.
Legal guardians who wish to adopt child(ren) in their care should follow the standard procedures to apply for adoption. Prospective adoptive parents who have both Latvian and U.S. citizenship, who are residing in Latvia, and who plan for their adopted child to immediately acquire U.S. citizenship are strongly encouraged to follow the Hague Adoption Convention process requirements set forth below. Prospective adoptive parents who adopt a Latvian child through the domestic Latvian adoption process are cautioned that the child will generally not be eligible for immigration to the United States as a Convention adoptee immediately following the adoption. Children adopted through the Latvian domestic adoption process may only be eligible for U.S. immigration benefits after their adoptive parents can demonstrate that the adoption took place before the child’s 16th birthday (or 18th birthday if the sibling exception applies) and that the adoptive parent has accrued two years of legal custody and joint residence with the child, outside the United States. Please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information on the family based immigration process.
Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting a child from the United States. We urge prospective adoptive parents residing abroad who are considering adoption of a child from the United States to consult with Latvia’s Central Authority, Ministry of Welfare, for its determination as to whether it considers your adoption to be subject to the Convention.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Latvia, 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.
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Latvia must meet the following requirements imposed by Latvia:
Because Latvia is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Latvia must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Latvia have determined that placement of the child within Latvia has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.
The new adoption regulations of November 8, 2018 provide for certain restrictions on children who may be released for international adoption as well as set requirements for international adoption services providers (see below).
In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements imposed by Latvia:
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).
Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Latvia before: 1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) the Central Authority of Latvia has determined the child is eligible for intercountry adoption, 3) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 4) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Latvia’s Central Adoption Authority
Ministry of Welfare
Because Latvia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Latvia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may cause significant delays or result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider that had been authorized by Latvia’s Central Authority to operate in Latvia
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
3. Apply to Latvia’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child. Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
5. Adopt the Child in Latvia
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 that Has Been Authorized by Latvia’s Central Authority to Operate in Latvia
The first step in adopting a child from Latvia is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide intercountry adoption services to U.S. citizens and that has been authorized by the Government of Latvia. A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services in your case, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
You must select an accredited or approved U.S. adoption service provider that is authorized by the Republic of Latvia. A list of the providers that have received Latvian authorization is posted on the U.S. Embassy’s website:
Note to adoption service providers seeking authorization by the Latvian Central Authority:
Adoption service providers should be aware of the requirements for adoption services providers by Latvia’s Adoption Regulations, including Supplement 3 that pertains to training for prospective adoptive parents. Adoption service providers seeking authorization to provide adoption services in Latvia should apply directly to the Ministry of Welfare by submitting a request in the form of a letter with reference to Article 12 of The Hague Adoption Convention.
As of May 7, 2019, the adoption service providers application letter should include the following: certification that the adoption service provider is aware that Latvia restricts the categories of children available for intercountry adoption (see above section Who Can Be Adopted); certification that services providers and prospective adoptive parents will be compliant with Latvia’s and U.S. requirements; certification that prospective adoptive parents will receive briefing about Latvia’s culture and traditions and pre-adoption training as required by Supplement 3 of Latvia’s Adoption Regulations; information about the maximum amount of costs that prospective adoptive parents will be charged by their providers for adoption services, including the expenses for adoption application preparation and submission, translation services, travel expenses, and others.; AND certification that the provider shall submit the required post adoption reports for finalized adoption cases.
The letter should be accompanied by the Convention member state country’s Certificate of Accreditation. A copy of the adoption service provider’s license and evaluation documentation should also be attached to the letter. If required by the Ministry of Welfare, applying adoption service providers should also submit a letter of verification of accreditation/approval by U.S. State Department’s Office of Children’s Issues. The Ministry of Welfare will review accreditation applications from services providers within one month from the application receipt date.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Latvia, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Latvia and U.S. immigration law.
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, provide biometrics, and cooperate in a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements. 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 Latvia’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child. Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority.
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Latvia as part of your adoption application. You must submit two copies of your dossier, with notary-certified Latvian translations of all non-Latvian language documents. Documents that are issued in the U.S. must be authenticated under an Apostille (please see information below about the authentication of documents). Latvia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Latvia’s law. Required documents for the adoption application/dossier include:
Your adoption application remains valid for three years unless the validity is restricted for a shorter term by your adoption service provider.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and Latvia determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Latvia’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is eligible for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in Latvia may provide you with a referral. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in Latvia will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the 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 adhere to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS with respect to the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in Latvia. This decision has to be communicated to the Central Authority of Latvia within 10 days from the referral letter receipt date. Learn more about this critical decision.
After receiving and accepting a match, the orphan courts in Latvia require the prospective adoptive parents to personally meet the child and establish a parent-child relationship. There is a required initial in-country phase of pre-adoption care that may be anywhere from three weeks to two months, though by law the court may require a pre-adoption care period of up to six months. If, after the initial pre-adoption care term, the orphan court concludes that there is a potential for a parent-child relationship and that the adoption is in the best interest of the child, the court will issue a temporary custody decision that allows the adoption to continue.
At the request of the prospective adoptive parents, the Latvian orphan court may permit the prospective adoptive parents to travel with the child to the United States for a limited visitation period prior to the finalization of the adoption. The duration of the visitation period is dictated by the Latvian orphan court. Prospective adoptive parents that are granted pre-adoption visitation periods in the United States may apply for a B-2 temporary visitor visa for the child and must present the custody order from the orphan court in support of this application and demonstrate that the child overcomes the presumption of immigrant intent in INA 214(b). Prospective adoptive parents must return to Latvia to obtain a final adoption, complete the Convention adoption process and immigrant visa process. Failure to do so would have serious implications on your child's immigration status in the United States, and may restrict your child's ability to obtain lawful permanent status in the United States or U.S. citizenship.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept being matched with a particular child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to be admitted to the United States.
Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, the U.S. Embassy in Latvia will request that your adoption service provider submits a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Riga responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Latvia. Click here for an immigrant visa application document checklist: https://lv.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/adoption/adoption-based-immigrant-visa-applicants/. Please ensure that your adoption service provider has the listed pre-adoption documents readily available for presentation to the U.S. Embassy.
You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. An adoptive parent 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. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.
The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to Latvia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Latvia if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Latvia’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.
Warning: Do not attempt to adopt a child in Latvia before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your adoption case.
Remember: The consular officer will make a final decision about a child’s eligibility for an immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
5. Adopt the Child in Latvia
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Latvia, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption.
After you receive notification about Article 5 letter from the U.S. Embassy in Riga, you, or your adoption service provider on your behalf, will request a hearing date from the Latvian court for approval of the adoption. If you were granted authorization for a visitation period in the United States with the child, at least one of the prospective adoptive parents and the child must return to Latvia for the approval hearing. In some cases, the courts may waive the requirement for child’s personal appearance at the court. Your adoption service provider will help you to establish the court requirements regarding personal appearance that tend to be case specific. If the court approves the adoption, the decree becomes effective only after 20 days have passed.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Latvia generally includes the following:
We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of Latvia, with your adoption service provider, and, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. Improper payments could violate applicable law or create the appearance of buying a child, and could put all future adoptions in Latvia 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 IAA makes 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 central 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 Latvia include:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
Authentication of Documents: The United States and Latvia are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, 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 Latvia you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. The local representative of your Latvia-accredited adoption service provider will assist you with filing an application for your child’s post-adoption birth certificate with Civil Registry of the Ministry of Justice. If the court approving your adoption application authorized the child’s name change, the post-adoption birth certificate will list the child’s new name in Latvian and English and you will be listed as the child’s parent(s).
Latvia does not issue a new birth certificate if you have been granted legal custody (guardianship instead of adoption) for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Latvia.
The local representative of your Latvia-authorized adoption service provider will assist you with filing an application for your child’s post-adoption passport with the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs of the Ministry of Interior. To ensure that your travel plans are not delayed you may request expedited two-day passport processing at the cost of 28.46 euros (about $30.00) per person.
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 Riga. 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 Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, 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 Riga by email at email@example.com 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.
Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 1-2 business days. The U.S. Embassy in Riga is unable to facilitate visa processing on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. Adoptive parents should plan at least two business days for visa processing by the U.S. Embassy in Riga before making final travel arrangements. Additional information concerning immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Riga can be found on the Embassy 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 Latvia
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 Latvia, 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 or Consulate in Latvia, 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 Latvia, 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/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
If the adoptive parents and the child reside outside of Latvia, the Ministry requires post-adoption reports for the adopted child for two years after the adoption (one per year). The first post-adoption report must be submitted to the Ministry one year after the date the adoption became effective. The second post-adoption report must be submitted to the Ministry two years after the date the adoption became effective. The reports should be conducted by appropriate child welfare officials in the state where the child resides. All reports must be authenticated under Apostille, translated into Latvian, and the translation must be certified.
We urge you to comply with Latvia’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 Latvia’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 Riga, 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.
Latvia also has consulates in about 20 various cities in the U.S.
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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