Exercise normal precautions in Latvia.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Latvia:
Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting from the United States. We urge prospective adoptive parents to consult with the Latvia’s central authority, Ministry of Welfare, to determine whether the Convention applies to an adoption from the United States.
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.
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 immediately following the adoption. Children adopted through the Latvian domestic 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 and that he/she has lived in their legal custody and joint residence, outside the United States, for at least two years. Please visit the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information on the immediate relative immigration process.
Note: If any of the following occurred prior to April 1, 2008 (the date on which the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force with respect to the United States), the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption: 1) you filed a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, identifying Latvia as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of a child from Latvia or; 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s adoption could continue to be processed as a non-Convention intercountry adoption, provided the child’s country of origin agrees. For more information, read about Transition Cases. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the details of the case if this situation applies to you.
U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Latvia, you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), determines who can 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 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 of 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.
In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a child must meet the following requirements of Latvia:
Please note that in order for a child to meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, a Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, must be filed on the child’s behalf while the child is under the age of 16 (or under the age of 18 if the child is the birth sibling of another adopted child who has immigrated or will immigrate based on adoption by the same adoptive parent(s)). Please note the special rules and instructions on filing dates for children aged 15-16 or siblings aged 17-18).
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 this becomes possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have rarely 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) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 3) 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
Note: Special transition provisions may apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Read about Transition Cases.
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 result in the child not being eligible for an immigrant visa to the United States.
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. Once your child has acquired U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for any 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 to travel abroad. Where required, visas are affixed to a traveler’s passport and allow him or her to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Latvia, 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 in the world about various issues, including 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 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 continue to reside in Latvia, the orphan court having jurisdiction over the child’s place of residence will monitor the adopted child’s well-being for the first two years after the adoption's finalization.
If the adoptive parents and the child reside outside Latvia, the Ministry requires post-adoption reports on the adopted child for two years after the adoption (one per year). The first post-adoption report shall be submitted to the Ministry one year after the date the adoption became effective. The second post-adoption report shall 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.
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 that Latvia’s history of 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.
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:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. government links does not imply endorsement of content.
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 States 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 petition process.
The Hague 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 substantial 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 Hague Complaint Registry.
Latvian Adoption Authority
Children and Family Policy Department
Ministry of Welfare
28 Skolas St., Riga, Latvia, LV-1331
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
For questions about filing a Form I-800A application or I-800 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
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