Security Alert
May 17, 2024

Worldwide Caution

May 10, 2024

Information for U.S. Citizens in the Middle East

Intercountry Adoption


Country Information


Republic of Mali
Do not travel to Mali due to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.

Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.

Do not travel to Mali due to crime, terrorism, and kidnapping.  

Country Summary: Violent crime, such as kidnapping and armed robbery, is common in Mali. Violent crime is a particular concern during local holidays and seasonal events in Bamako, its suburbs, and Mali’s southern regions.  Roadblocks and random police checkpoints are commonplace throughout the country, especially at night.

Terrorist and armed groups continue plotting kidnappings and attacks in Mali.  They may attack with little or no warning, targeting night clubs, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, international diplomatic missions, and other locations frequented by foreigners.  Attacks may target Malian government offices and infrastructure, in addition to locations frequented by Westerners.  

The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens throughout much of Mali as U.S. government employee travel outside Bamako is restricted due to security concerns.

Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of Mali, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM).  For more information U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.

Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Mali.

If you decide to travel to Mali:

  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Draft a will and designate appropriate insurance beneficiaries and/or power of attorney.
  • Discuss a plan with loved ones regarding care/custody of children, pets, property, belongings, non-liquid assets (collections, artwork, etc.), funeral wishes, etc.
  • Share important documents, login information, and points of contact with loved ones so that they can manage your affairs if you are unable to return as planned to the United States. Find a suggested list of such documents here.
  • Establish your own personal security plan in coordination with your employer or host organization, or consider consulting with a professional security organization.
  • Develop a communication plan with family and/or your employer or host organization so that they can monitor your safety and location as you travel through high-risk areas. This plan should specify whom you would contact first and how they should share the information.
  • Identify key sources of possible assistance for you and your family in case of emergency, such as the local U.S. embassy or consulate, FBI, the State Department, your employer (if traveling on business), and local friends/family in the high-risk area. 
  • Be sure to appoint one family member to serve as the point of contact with hostage-takers, media, U.S. and host country government agencies, and Members of Congress if you are taken hostage or detained.
  • Establish a proof of life protocol with your loved ones so that, if you are taken hostage, your loved ones will know specific questions and answers to ask the hostage-takers to be sure you are alive and to rule out a hoax.
  • Leave DNA samples with your medical provider in case it is necessary for your family to access them.
  • Guard your passport and wallet when in crowded outdoor areas and open-air markets.
  • Be vigilant for pickpockets, especially at night.
  • Use all available safety measures in your home or hotel, including locking doors and windows at all times, and setting the alarm.
  • If asked to stop by police, stop only in well-lit areas or places where several officers are posted.
  • Erase any sensitive photos, comments, or other materials from your social media pages, cameras, laptops, and other electronic devices that could be considered controversial or provocative by local groups.
  • Leave your expensive/sentimental belongings behind.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Country Security Report for Mali.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist. 
  • Visit the CDC page for the latest Travel Health Information related to your travel.   

Hague Convention Participation

Hague Adoption Convention Country?

Hague Convention Information

Mali is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the 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 Mali. 

Types of adoption in Mali: Malian law distinguishes between two types of adoption. It is imperative that prospective adoptive parents understand this distinction and obtain the correct type of adoption in order for the child to be eligible to immigrate to the United States.

  • Adoption Protection gives the prospective adoptive parent custody over the child and obligates the custodial parent to provide for the child's food, shelter, schooling, and medical needs.  In the interest of the child, Adoption Protection can be terminated at any time by the custodial party/parties, the Malian government, or the biological parent(s).  Under certain circumstances, Adoption Protection can form the basis to obtain a visa to bring the child to the United States and finalize the adoption in a U.S. state court.  Prospective adoptive parents must obtain an attestation from the Direction de l’Enfant et de la Famille verifying that the Adoption Protection was obtained legally in order to secure the release of the child for emigration and adoption.  Please consult the U.S. Embassy in Dakar before pursuing the Adoption Protection route for intercountry adoption.
  • Adoption Filiation allows for parental rights to be established between the prospective adoptive parents and the adoptee. Under Malian law, an adopted child with a filiation decree becomes a full heir with the same rights as a biological child. Children under the age of five whose parents are either deceased or unknown are eligible for Adoption Filiation. The prospective adoptive parent(s) must not have any legitimate children or descendants to qualify for Adoption Filiation. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to use Adoption Filiation, rather than Adoption Protection, to complete an intercountry adoption in Mali. 

    For guidelines on Adoption Filiation, please read the information below.

The Government of Mali gives priority to Malian citizens for adoption of Malian children.  In Mali, adoption is controlled by the provisions of Law No. 2011-087 / PM from December 30, 2011 on the Persons and Family Code. The provision of Article 540 of this law does not authorize persons of foreign nationality to adopt Malian children under the adoption-filiation (full adoption) agreement. Prospective parents for adoption-filiation (full adoption) must have Malian nationality.

Note: The Malian government has not authorized any U.S. adoption service providers to provide services in Mali.

Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008.  Read about Transition Cases.

U.S. Immigration Requirements

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Mali, 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.

Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, Mali obliges prospective adoptive parents to meet the following requirements in order to adopt a child from Mali:

  • Residency: There are no residency requirements for adoption.  However, the Malian authorities tend to view more favorably prospective adoptive parents who are currently living in or have previously lived in Mali.
  • Age of Adopting Parents: For a married couple, either the husband or the wife must be at least 30 years old. An unmarried woman may adopt a Malian child if she is at least 30 years old.
  • Marriage: Adopted children are generally placed with married couples. An unmarried woman may adopt a Malian child if she is at least 30 years old and can demonstrate proof of sufficient economic resources to support the child. Unmarried men may not adopt Malian children.
  • Income: None specified.
  • Other: The prospective adoptive parent(s) must not have any legitimate children or descendants to qualify for Adoption Filiation.  Malian law requires adoptive parents to be of Malian nationality to adopt Malian children under the adoption-filiation (full adoption) agreement.

Who Can Be Adopted

Because Mali is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Mali 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 Mali have determined that placement of the child within Mali has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Mali’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee to be eligible for an immigrant visa that will allow you to bring him or her to the United States.


  • Relinquishment: None specified.
  • Abandonment: An Adoption Filiation can occur only when the child has been abandoned, with parents either unknown or deceased, and no other parent is capable of caring for the child.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: An Adoption Filiation can occur only when the child is under five years of age.
  • Sibling Adoptions: None specified.
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: None specified.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: None specified.

How to Adopt

WARNING:  Mali is party to the Hague Adoption Convention. Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Mali before a U.S. consular officer issues an “Article 5 Letter” in the case. dRead on for more information.


Direction Nationale de l’Enfant et de la Famille (Direction Nationale),
Ministère de la Promotion de la Femme, de l’Enfant et de la Famille (MPFEF)

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 identifying Mali as the country where you intended to adopt; 2) you filed a Form I-600; or, 3) the adoption was completed. Under these circumstances, your adopted child’s visa application could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions.  For more information, read about Transition Cases.

The Process

Because Mali is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, prospective adoptive parents 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. Adoptions completed out of order may not confer immigration benefits on the adopted child (i.e. it is possible the child would not qualify for an immigrant visa if adopted out of order).

  1. Choose a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider
  2. Apply to USCIS to be found eligible to adopt
  3. Be matched with a child by authorities in Mali
  4. Apply to USCIS for the child to be found eligible for immigration to the United States and receive U.S. agreement to proceed with the adoption
  5. Adopt the child in Mali
  6. Obtain a U.S. immigrant visa for your child and bring your child home
  1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider

The recommended first step in adopting a child from Mali is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide services to U.S. citizens in Convention cases. Only accredited or approved adoption services providers may provide adoption services between the United States and Mali. The U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider will act as the primary provider in your case. The primary adoption service provider is responsible for ensuring that all adoption services in the case are done in accordance with The Hague Adoption Convention and U.S. laws and regulations.  Learn more about Agency Accreditation.

2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Eligible to Adopt

After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt by the responsible U.S. government agency, the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), by submitting Form I-800A. Read more about Eligibility Requirements.

Once USCIS determines that you are “eligible” and “suited” to adopt by approving the Form I-800A, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Mali as part of your adoption dossier. Mali’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Malian law. 

3. Be Matched with a Child by Mali

If both the United States and Mali determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the central authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the central authority for Convention adoptions in Mali may provide you with a referral for a child. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of a specific child in Mali. The adoption authority in Mali will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral or not. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs and provide a permanent home for a particular child.  If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the adoption authority in Mali. Learn more about this critical decision.

4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption

After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States (Form I-800).  USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child meets the definition of a Convention Adoptee and will be eligible to enter the United States and reside permanently as an immigrant. 
After provisional approval of Form I-800, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Mali.  A consular officer will review the Form I-800 and the visa application for possible visa ineligibilities and advise you of options for the waiver of any noted ineligibilities. 

WARNING:  The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5 Letter”) to the Malian Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Mali where all Convention requirements are met and the consular officer determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Malian Central Authority that the parents are eligible and suited to adopt, that all indications are that the child may enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed.

Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Mali before a U.S. consular officer issues the Article 5 Letter in any 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 Child in Mali

Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Mali, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps, can you proceed to finalize the adoption in Mali. 

The process for finalizing the adoption in Mali generally includes the following: 

  • Role of Adoption Authority: Adoption Filiation must pass through the MPFEF’s Direction Nationale. The MPFEF works exclusively with the only orphanage in Bamako. Malian law strictly prohibits the involvement of other agencies or associations. The Direction Nationale approves prospective adoptive parent(s) and identifies children for potential matches with prospective adoptive parent(s).

    A representative from the Direction Nationale will participate in the adoption proceedings as an advocate for the prospective adoptive parent(s).

  • Role of the Court: The Tribunal de la Première Instance in Commune 5 in Bamako is the only court authorized to issue Adoption Filiation decrees. Prospective adoptive parent(s) may petition for the adoption of a child, along with a representative from the Direction Nationale, after the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal, issues the Article 5 Letter. There is a 15-day waiting period between the Court’s decision and the adoption decree’s issuance, in case someone objects to the adoption.

Note: If the prospective adoptive parent(s) are working with a Malian lawyer, it is possible for the adoption procedures and court proceedings in Mali to be held without the presence of the prospective adopting adoptive parent(s). In this case, the adoptive parent(s) would still need to travel to Mali to accept the adopted child from the Direction Nationale once those proceedings have been completed. The MPFEF will not release newly adopted children to anyone other than the adopting parent(s).

  • Role of Adoption Agencies: While U.S. prospective adoptive parents must use U.S. accredited adoption service providers for the U.S. processing elements of an adoption from Mali, the MPFEF has not authorized any U.S. adoption service provider to provide services in Mali. Prospective adoptive parents are encouraged to work through a licensed Malian attorney for the in-country adoption procedures. 

  • Time Frame: The adoption process in Mali can take from three to 18 months to complete. Once the case has been presented to the Court of Justice, final review and the issuance of the adoption decree typically take 15 days.

  • Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parent(s) residing in the United States should submit all required documents, application, written statement of preferences (child’s preferred age and gender), and Form I-800A approval notice to the MPFEF via the Malian Embassy in Washington, DC.                                                                                                                                              
  • Prospective adoptive parent(s) residing in Mali should submit the application, documents, statement of preferences (child’s preferred age and gender), and Form I-800A approval notice directly to the Direction Nationale de l’Enfant et de la Famille, Ministère de la Promotion de la Femme, de l’Enfant et de la Famille.

Note: Prospective adoptive parent(s) may decline a proposed match, but if they wish to proceed with a Malian adoption of a different child, they must then submit a new application and start the process from the beginning.

  • Adoption Fees: Prospective adoptive parent(s) must provide their Malian attorneys with 10,000 West African Francs; this fee is then paid by the attorneys to the Court to issue the adoption decree.

In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. 

  • Documents Required: Malian authorities will require:
  1. Certified copies of the following:
    1. Prospective adoptive parent(s) birth certificate(s), and
    2. Prospective adoptive parents' marriage certificate, if applicable;
  2. Police record or certification of the lack thereof;
  3. A homestudy conducted or approved by a U.S. accredited adoption service provider if the prospective adoptive parent(s) live in the United States. If the prospective adoptive parent(s) live in Mali, the home study will be conducted by the Direction Nationale du Development Social in Bamako. The homestudy must then be reviewed by an accredited U.S. adoption service provider. In both situations, the homestudy is a required component of the Form I-800A;
  4. Certificate attesting to the good health, both mental and physical, of the prospective adoptive parent(s);
  5. Residence certificate (if the prospective adoptive parent(s) reside in Mali);
  6. Prospective adoptive parent(s)’ passport(s) or certificates attesting to their nationality, issued by the U.S. Embassy in Bamako;
  7. Pay statements and tax records indicating prospective adoptive parents’ residency, employment and annual income;  
  8. Notarized statement appointing a parent or friend as the child’s guardian in the case of the prospective adoptive parents’ death;
  9. Agreement to provide an annual report on the child’s welfare to the MPFEF’s Direction Nationale; and
  10. Four letters of reference.

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. If so, the Department of State, Authentications office may be able to assist. Read more about Authenticating U.S. Documents

6. Obtain an 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 for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home.  Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:

Birth Certificate
If you have finalized the adoption in Mali, you will first need to apply for a birth certificate for your child so that you can later apply for a passport. 

If you have been granted custody for the purpose of adopting the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.

Birth certificates may be obtained from the local Mayor’s office.

Malian Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Mali. 

Malian passports can be obtained from the Malian border police (Police du Frontier).

U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to finalize your application for a U.S. visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal.  After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Dakar for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Declaration of Grant of Custody, final approval of the child’s I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s visa. 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 if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. 

Note: Visa issuance will not normally be possible on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar before making final travel arrangements.


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.

Traveling Abroad

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 Mali
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 Mali, 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 Mali, 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).

After Adoption


Mali requires an agreement from the prospective adoptive parents to provide an annual report on the child’s welfare to the MPFEF’s Direction Nationale until an adopted child reaches the age of 16.

We strongly urge you to comply with Mali’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 history of 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.

Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Mali
Ambassade des USA
ACI 2000
Rue 243 Porte 297
B.P. 34
Tel:  +(223)-20-70-23-00

U.S. Embassy in Senegal
U.S. Embassy
Avenue Jean XXIII, angle Rue Jacques Bugnicourt - BP 49
Dakar, Senegal
Tel:  +(221) 33-829-2100
Fax:  +(221) 33-822-5903

Mali’s Adoption Authority
Direction Nationale de l’Enfant et de la Famille
Ministère de la Promotion de la Femme, de l’Enfant et de la Famille
B.P. 2688
Bamako, Mali

Embassy of Mali
Embassy of the Republic of Mali
2130 R Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20008
Tel:  (202) 332-2249
Fax:  (202) 332-6603

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State  
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, DC 20522-1709
Tel:  1-888-407-4747

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)

Last Updated: July 2, 2021

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Bamako
ACI 2000
Rue 243, Porte 297
Bamako, Mali
+(223) 2070-2300
+(223) 6675-2860

Mali Map