Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Mauritania Intercountry Adoption Information
Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.
Reconsider travel to Mauritania due to crime and terrorism. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do Not Travel To:
Country Summary: Violent crimes, such as mugging, armed robbery, 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 may travel only during daylight hours and are prohibited from walking alone outside of designated areas and times.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Mauritania.
If you decide to travel to Mauritania:
Areas Designated Off-Limits by the Mauritanian Military – Level 4: Do Not Travel
The government of Mauritania designates certain areas off-limits to foreigners and most Mauritanians. These “No Movement Zones” are extremely dangerous due to their proximity to Mali, where armed groups engaged in an active insurgency carry out cross-border attacks into Mauritania. The government of Mauritania does not maintain a substantial presence in these areas and thus police are unable to respond to most incidents there. In addition, cell phone coverage and paved roads are nonexistent. U.S. officials are unable to travel to these places. Since the boundaries of such areas frequently change, U.S. citizens should pay attention to all posted signs and notices of restricted entry. They should presume the following areas are off-limits:
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
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.
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.
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
Mauritania’s Adoption Authority
Mauritanian Ministry for the Promotion of Women, Family, and Children
Address: Nouakchott, Mauritania
Tel: +222 4525-3860
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
SA-17, 9th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20522-1709
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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