Intercountry Adoption

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Country Information

Mauritania

Mauritania
Islamic Republic of Mauritania
Reconsider Travel to Mauritania due to crime and terrorism.

Reconsider Travel to Mauritania due to crime and terrorism

Violent crimes, such as mugging, armed robbery, rape, and assault, are common. Local police lack the resources to respond effectively to serious crimes.

Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting places frequented by Westerners.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Mauritania as U.S. government employees must obtain special authorization to travel outside Nouakchott. U.S. government employees must travel only during daylight hours and are prohibited from walking alone at any time.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to the Mauritania:

  • Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
  • Avoid demonstrations.
  • Use caution when walking or driving at night.
  • Always carry a copy of your U.S. passport and visa (if applicable).  Keep original documents in a secure location. 
  • Monitor local media for breaking events and be prepared to adjust your plans.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • 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 Crime and Safety Report for Mauritania.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.
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Hague Convention Participation

Hague Adoption Convention Country?
No
Are Intercountry Adoptions between this country and the United States possible?
Both adoptions to the United States from Mauritania and from the United States to Mauritania are possible.

Hague Convention Information

Mauritania 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 accreditation requirement and standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also apply in non-Convention (“orphan”) cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider acts as a primary provider in every case, and that adoption service providers providing adoption services on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service providers and prospective adoptive parents should review the State Department’s Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 webpage for further information. 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 USCIS website on the impact on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications under the UAA, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the Convention home study requirements, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.

Mauritania is not considered a country of origin for intercountry adoption. While adoption is legally possible, children from Mauritania are not generally placed for intercountry adoption. No child from Mauritania has received a U.S. adoption immigrant visa relating to an intercountry adoption in the past five fiscal years. The information provided is intended primarily to assist in extremely rare adoption cases from Mauritania, including adoptions of Mauritania’s children by relatives in the United States, as well as adoptions from third countries by U.S. citizens living in Mauritania.

U.S. citizens interested in adopting children from Mauritania should contact the adoption authority of Mauritania to inquire about applicable laws and procedures. U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parents living in Mauritania who would like to adopt a child from the United States or from a third country should also contact Mauritania’s adoption authority. See contact information below.

In addition to U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, Mauritania also has the following requirements for adoptive parents:

Adoption is not allowed under Mauritanian law, but legal guardianship is allowed through the determination of a court. The Mauritanian judicial system is based on a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law. To qualify as a guardian, one must be a blood-relative who is either Muslim or lives in a Muslim environment. In the event of the inability of a parent to care for his/her children, Mauritanian law gives a strict sequence of eligible blood relatives for guardianship. However, it is up to the discretion of a judge to determine who is most eligible for the guardianship of a child.

The 2002 Family Code, promulgated by the Mauritanian Ministry of Justice, includes sections on guardianship and custody. The Family Code does not cover scenarios in which a parent or legal guardian can pass guardianship to a foreigner. It is possible for a lawyer to assist in obtaining approved guardianship from a Mauritanian court. This may be sufficient to allow the child to be eligible for an immigrant visa under U.S. immigration laws, however, Mauritanian law generally prohibits non-family members from removing children from Mauritania.

PLEASE NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal issues immigrant visas for Mauritanian citizens, including adopted orphans.

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).

Please visit the Department of State’s Country Specific Information for more information on travelling to Mauritania and the U.S. Embassy Nouakchott’s website for information on consular services.

U.S. Immigration Requirements

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

Who Can Adopt

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Who Can Be Adopted

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How to Adopt

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Traveling Abroad

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After Adoption

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Contact Information

U.S. Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania
The U.S. Embassy is located between the Presidency building and the Spanish Embassy on Rue Abdallaye. The postal address is B.P. 222, Nouakchott, Mauritania.
Tel: +(222) 4525-2660, 4525-2663, 4525-1145 or 4525-3288
Fax: +(222) 4-525-1592
Email: ConsularNKC@state.gov
Internet: mr.usembassy.gov

Mauritania’s Adoption Authority
Mauritanian Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Family, and Children
Address: Nouakchott, Mauritania 
Tel: (222) 525-3860 

Embassy of Mauritania
Address: 2129 Leroy Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
Tel: (202) 232-5700

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
CA/OCS/CI
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
Email: Adoption@state.gov
Internet: adoption.state.gov

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)
Internet: uscis.gov

For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or I-600 petition:
USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Adoptions@uscis.dhs.gov

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Nouakchott
Nouadhibou Road
Avenue Al Quds, NOT PRTZ
Nouakchott, Mauritania
Telephone
+(222) 4525-2660
Emergency
+(222) 3662-8163
Fax
+(222) 4525-1592

Mauritania Map