Intercountry Adoption

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Country Information

Mexico

Mexico
United Mexican States
Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Exercise increased caution in Mexico due to crime. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.

Violent crime, such as homicide, kidnapping, carjacking, and robbery, is widespread.

The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in many areas of Mexico as U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to these areas.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from intercity travel after dark in many areas of Mexico. U.S. government employees are also not permitted to drive from the U.S.-Mexico border to or from the interior parts of Mexico with the exception of daytime travel on Highway 15 between Nogales and Hermosillo.

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

Do not travel to:

  • Colima state due to crime.
  • Guerrero state due to crime.
  • Michoacán state due to crime.
  • Sinaloa state due to crime.
  • Tamaulipas state due to crime.

For all other states in Mexico, please see detailed information below.

If you decide to travel to Mexico:

  • Use toll roads when possible and avoid driving at night.
  • Exercise increased caution when visiting local bars, nightclubs, and casinos.
  • Do not display signs of wealth, such as wearing expensive watches or jewelry.
  • Be extra vigilant when visiting banks or ATMs.
  • 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 Reports for Mexico.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Aguascalientes state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling between cities at night. Additionally, U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Aguascalientes.

Baja California state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state. According to the Baja California State Secretariat for Public Security, the state experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents.

Due to poor cellular service and hazardous road conditions, U.S. government employees are only permitted to travel on “La Rumorosa” between Mexicali and Tijuana on the toll road during daylight.

There are no U.S. government restrictions in tourist areas in Baja California, which includes: Ensenada, Rosarito, and Tijuana.

Baja California Sur state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

Criminal activity and violence, including homicide, remain an issue throughout the state. According to Government of Mexico statistics, the state experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Bystanders have been injured or killed in shooting incidents. 

There are no U.S. government restrictions for travel in Baja California Sur, which includes the tourist areas of Cabo San Lucas, San Jose del Cabo, and La Paz.

Campeche state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution. Police presence and emergency response are extremely limited outside of the state capital.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Chiapas state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

U.S. government employees are encouraged to remain in tourist areas and are not permitted to use public transportation. U.S. government employees are permitted to drive during daylight only.

There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees in tourist areas in Chiapas state, such as: Palenque, San Cristobal de las Casas, and Tuxtla Gutierrez.

Chihuahua state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are widespread.

Travel for U.S. government employees is limited to the following areas with the noted restrictions:

  • Ciudad Juarez: U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel after dark west of Eje Juan Gabriel and south of Boulevard Zaragoza. U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the areas southeast of Boulevard Independencia and the Valle de Juarez region.
  • Within the city of Chihuahua: U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the Morelos, Villa, and Zapata districts.
  • Ojinaga: U.S. government employees must travel via U.S. Highway 67 through the Presidio, Texas port-of-entry.
  • Palomas and the Nuevo Casas Grandes/Paquime region: U.S. government employees must use U.S. Highway 11 through the Columbus, New Mexico port-of- entry.
  • Nuevo Casas Grandes: U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel outside city limits after dark.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Coahuila state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime is widespread. Local law enforcement has limited capability to prevent and respond to crime, particularly in the northern part of the state.

U.S. government employees are not permitted to travel in Coahuila state, with the exception of Saltillo, Bosques de Monterreal, and Parras de la Fuente. U.S. government employees can only travel to those cities using the most direct routes and maximizing the use of toll highways. Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., U.S. government employees must remain within Saltillo, Bosques de Monterreal, or Parras de la Fuente.

U.S. government employees are permitted to travel to Piedras Negras and Ciudad Acuna but they must travel to these cities from the United States only.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Coahuila.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Colima state – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are widespread.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to Tecoman or within 12 miles of the Colima-Michoacán border and on Route 110 between La Tecomaca and the Jalisco border. 

There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees travel along Route 200 from the Jalisco border to Manzanillo, including the Manzanillo airport.  There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for stays in Manzanillo from Marina Puerto Santiago to Playa las Brisas.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Colima.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Durango state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity along the highways are common.

U.S. government employees may travel outside the city of Durango only during daylight on toll roads. Between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., U.S. government employees must remain within Durango city.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Durango.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Estado de Mexico state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime is common in parts of Estado de Mexico.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the following municipalities, unless they are traveling directly through the municipalities on major thoroughfares:

  • Coacalco
  • Ecatepec
  • Nezahualcoyotl
  • La Paz
  • Valle del Chalco
  • Solidaridad
  • Chalco
  • Ixtapaluca
  • Tlatlaya

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel on any roads between Morelos, Huitzilac, and Santa Martha, Estado de Mexico, including the Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Guanajuato state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Guerrero state – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime. Armed groups operate independently of the government in many areas of Guerrero. Members of these groups frequently maintain roadblocks and may use violence towards travelers.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the entire state of Guerrero, including Acapulco.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Hidalgo state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Jalisco state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Jalisco state.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to areas bordering Michoacán and Zacatecas states. U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling between cities after dark and from using Highway 80 between Cocula and La Huerta.

U.S. government employees may use federal toll road 15D for travel to Mexico City. However, they may not stop in the towns of La Barca or Ocotlan for any reason.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Jalisco.

There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for stays in the following tourist areas in Jalisco state: Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Chapala, and Ajijic.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Mexico City – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Michoacán state – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime. U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel in Michoacán state, with the exception of Morelia and Lazaro Cardenas cities and the area north of federal toll road 15D.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel by land, except on federal toll road 15D.

U.S. government employees may fly into Morelia and Lazaro Cardenas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Morelos state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Morelos state.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel on any roads from Huitzilac to Santa Martha, Estado de Mexico, including Lagunas de Zempoala National Park and surrounding areas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Nayarit state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Nayarit state.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel in most areas of the state, with the following exceptions:

  • Riviera Nayarit (which includes Nuevo Vallarta and Bahia de Banderas)
  • Santa Maria del Oro
  • Xalisco

When traveling to permitted areas above, U.S. government employees must use major highways and cannot travel between cities after dark.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Nayarit.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Nuevo Leon state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Nuevo Leon state.

U.S. government employees may travel outside Monterrey only during daylight on toll roads, with the exception of travel to the Monterrey airport, which is permitted at any time.

U.S. government employees must remain within San Pedro Garza Garcia or Santa Catarina (south of the Santa Catarina river) municipalities between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Nuevo Leon.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Oaxaca state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

In Oaxaca, U.S. government employees are encouraged to remain in tourist areas and are not permitted to use public transportation.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel on Highway 200 throughout the state, except to transit between the airport in Huatulco to hotels in Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to the El Istmo region. The El Istmo region is defined by Highway 185D to the west, Highway 190 to the north, and the Oaxaca/Chiapas border to the east and includes the towns of Juchitan de Zaragoza, Salina Cruz, and San Blas.

Puebla state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Queretaro state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Quintana Roo state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

According to Government of Mexico statistics, the state experienced an increase in homicide rates compared to the same period in 2016. While most of these homicides appeared to be targeted, criminal organization assassinations, turf battles between criminal groups have resulted in violent crime in areas frequented by U.S. citizens. Shooting incidents injuring or killing bystanders have occurred.

There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for travel in Quintana Roo state, which includes tourist areas such as: Cancun, Cozumel, Playa del Carmen, Tulum, and the Riviera Maya.

San Luis Potosi state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of San Luis Potosi state.

U.S. government employees may travel outside San Luis Potosi city only during daylight hours on toll roads. U.S. government employees must remain within San Luis Potosi city between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in San Luis Potosi.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Sinaloa state – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime. Violent crime is widespread. Criminal organizations are based and operating in Sinaloa state.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel in most areas of the state. In areas where travel is permitted, the following restrictions are in place:

  • Mazatlan: U.S. government travel is permitted only in Zona Dorada, the historic town center, and direct routes to and from these locations and the airport or the cruise ship terminal.
  • Los Mochis and Port Topolobampo: U.S. government travel is permitted within the city and the port, as well as direct routes to and from these locations and the airport.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Sonora state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Sonora is a key location used by the international drug trade and human trafficking networks. However, northern Sonora experiences much lower levels of crime than cities closer to Sinaloa and other parts of Mexico. U.S. government employees visiting Puerto Peñasco may use the Lukeville/Sonoyta crossing, and are required to travel during daylight hours on Route 8. U.S. government employees may also travel to Puerto Peñasco from Nogales by using Route 15 south and east via Routes 2 and 37 through Caborca during daylight hours. U.S. government employees may travel between the cities of Nogales and Hemosillo, however, travel is restricted to daylight hours and only on Route 15 through Imuris, Magdalena, and Santa Ana.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from travel to:

  • The triangular region west of the Mariposa port-of-entry, east of Sonoyta, and north of Altar.
  • The district within Nogales that lies to the north of Ayenida Instituto Tecnologico and between Periferico and Corredor Fiscal, and the residential areas to the east of Plutarco Elias Calles. U.S. government employees are not permitted to use taxi services in Nogales, but bus travel is permitted. Movement around the city after dark is by vehicle only. U.S. government employees should avoid El Centro and all night clubs after 10:00 p.m.
  • The eastern edge of the state of Sonora, which borders the state of Chihuahua (all points along that border east of Federal Highway 17, the road between Moctezuma and Sahuaripa, and state Highway 20 between Sahuaripa and the intersection with Federal Highway 16).
  • South of Hermosillo, with the exception of the cities of Alamos, San Carlos, Guaymas, and Empalme.

Travel of U.S. government employees to the following cities is permitted with the noted restrictions:

  • San Luis Rio Colorado: U.S. government employees must travel during daylight hours through the San Luis, Arizona port-of-entry and may not travel beyond the city limits.
  • Cananea: U.S. government employees must travel during daylight hours through the Naco, Arizona port-of-entry and along Route 2 to Cananea, including the Cananea mine, and may not travel beyond the city limits. 
  • Agua Prieta: U.S. government employees must travel during daylight hours through the Douglas, Arizona port-of-entry and may not travel beyond the city limits.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Tabasco state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Tamaulipas state – Level 4: Do Not Travel

Do not travel due to crime. Violent crime, such as murder, armed robbery, carjacking, kidnapping, extortion, and sexual assault, is common. Gang activity, including gun battles, is widespread. Armed criminal groups target public and private passenger buses traveling through Tamaulipas, often taking passengers hostage and demanding ransom payments. Local law enforcement has limited capability to respond to violence in many parts of the state.

U.S. government employees are subject to movement restrictions and a curfew between midnight and 6 a.m.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Tamaulipas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

Tlaxcala state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

There are no travel restrictions on U.S. government employees.

Veracruz state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution due to crime.

U.S. government employees are encouraged to remain in tourist areas and are not permitted to use public transportation. U.S. government employees are permitted to drive during daylight only.

Yucatan state – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

Exercise increased caution. Police presence and emergency response are extremely limited outside of the state capital.

There are no restrictions on U.S. government employees for travel in Yucatan state, which includes tourist areas such as: Chichen Itza, Merida, Uxmal, and Valladolid.

Zacatecas state – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel due to crime. Violent crime and gang activity are common in parts of Zacatecas state.

U.S. government employees may travel outside Zacatecas city only during daylight hours on toll roads. U.S. government employees must remain within Zacatecas city between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m.

U.S. government employees are prohibited from patronizing adult clubs and gambling establishments in Zacatecas.

Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.

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Hague Convention Participation
Hague Adoption Convention Country?
Yes
ALL /
ALL /
Hague Convention Information

Mexico is 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 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 Mexico.

The Mexican Central Authority is comprised of multiple entities including two federal authorities as well as an adoption authority in each of the 31 states. The two federal authorities are the Secretary of Exterior Relations, or Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE), which issues key Hague Adoption Convention documentation including the Article 23 Certificate, and the National System for the Full Development of the Family, or Sistema Nacional para el Desarollo Integral de la Familia (DIF), which coordinates national policy for child and family welfare, including processing of domestic and intercountry adoption cases and authorization of foreign adoption service providers in Mexico. Both of these entities are federal and are based in Mexico City.

In addition to the two federal authorities named above, intercountry adoptions must also involve one of the 31 state DIF offices, one in each Mexican state. The state DIF offices issue the Article 16 and Article 17 letters, important Hague Adoption Convention documentation. The civil code in each state may vary, and prospective adoptive parents need to be aware of and abide by the applicable laws of the state from which they plan to adopt. Though state and regional DIF offices play an important role in intercountry adoption cases, all intercountry adoptions must be processed in coordination with the national DIF office and the SRE, which are the entities with the authority to certify Convention compliance for intercountry adoptions.

Prospective adoptive parents must initiate their adoption application in Mexico by submitting it to the SRE through a U.S. based adoption service provider that is both Hague accredited in the U.S. and approved to provide services in Mexico by the Mexican Central Authority. Prospective adoptive parents should take care to ensure that the adoption service provider they choose is both on the U.S. list of Hague accredited adoption service providers, as well as on the national DIF’s list of adoption service providers authorized to work in Mexico. Failure to work with an adoption service provider that has achieved authorization by the national DIF could delay the adoption and could result in the Mexican Central Authority's refusal to issue the Hague certification required for visa issuance.

Prospective adoptive parents who are dual Mexican and U.S. nationals are cautioned that only plenary adoptions (adopcion plena) are considered valid for intercountry adoption. The Mexican legal framework provides for two adoption processes: simple (simple) adoption and plenary (plena)adoption. Under Mexican law, Mexican nationals and permanent residents of Mexico may complete a simple adoption, which involves a faster and simpler legal process than the longer and sometimes more difficult plenaprocess. However, in most cases simple adoptions do not meet the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention process because they do not create a permanent legal parent-child relationship with the adopting parent and terminate the legal parent-child relationship with any former parent. It is only possible to issue a U.S. Convention adoption visa to children adopted via a plena adoption completed as part of a Convention adoption process. The plena adoption decree must mention that the dual national parents reside in the United States, and must clearly indicate that the adoption is an intercountry adoption.

U.S. IMMIGRATION REQUIREMENTS FOR INTERCOUNTRY ADOPTIONS

To bring an adopted child to the United States from Mexico, you must meet eligibility and suitability requirements. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines who can adopt under U.S. immigration law.

Additionally, a child must meet the definition of Convention adoptee under U.S. law in order to immigrate to the United States on an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa.

U.S. Immigration Requirements
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Who Can Adopt

In addition to the U.S. requirements, prospective adoptive parents need to meet Mexican requirements to adopt a child from Mexico:

  • Residency: Mexican adoption procedures include a one to three week pre-adoption trial period, during which the child lives with the prospective adoptive parent(s) in Mexico. Because of the large amount of paperwork in both the Mexican and U.S. processes, the DIF suggests that adoptive parents be prepared to spend at least three months in Mexico including the pre-adoption trial period.  
  • Age of Adopting Parents: Prospective adoptive parents must be over 25 years of age and at least 17 years older than the child. If married, only one parent must meet the age requirement.
  • Marriage: Prospective adoptive parents may be married or single, male or female. Same-sex couples are currently permitted to adopt only in Mexico City. Unmarried heterosexual couples may adopt, but only one member of the couple will appear on the adoption decree
  • Income: Prospective adoptive parents must demonstrate the means to support the physical and educational needs of the child(ren). Prospective adoptive parents need to demonstrate that they are financially capable of taking care of the child(ren) with evidence such as, but not limited to, job letters, pay stubs, pictures from their home in the U.S. , and bank statements. They will have to present these documents during the court process to support their financial status. Prospective adoptive parents should also be prepared to present information about two persons who will be able to confirm their moral qualities and employment status
  • Other: There are no restrictions concerning the gender of the child a prospective adoptive parent may adopt. For instance, an unmarried male prospective adoptive parent may adopt a female child. In addition, prospective adoptive parents who have previously adopted in Mexico can adopt again. There is no list of specific diseases or disabilities that bar prospective adoptive parents from adopting; state DIFs evaluate prospective adoptive parents on a case by case basis during the matching process with the child.
Who Can Be Adopted

Because Mexico is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Mexico 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 Mexico have determined that placement of the child within Mexico has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests. In addition to Mexico’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.

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS:

  • Relinquishment and Abandonment: Only a Civil/Family judge, in a court proceeding, can determine if a child has been abandoned or relinquished. Public notaries are not authorized to make determinations of abandonment or relinquishment.
  • Age of Adoptive Child: Children five years and older are available for intercountry adoption. The Mexican Central Authority may, in its discretion, place a child under the age of five if the child has a physical or mental disability, suffers from a disease that is costly to treat, or is part of a sibling group involving children older than five who are also being adopted.
  • Sibling Adoptions: The Mexican Central Authority strives to keep siblings together and encourages prospective adoptive parents to consider adopting a group of siblings together in one adoption proceeding. .
  • Special Needs or Medical Conditions: Adoptions of children with special needs or medical conditions are encouraged. The Mexican Central Authority will review the homestudy to ensure that prospective adoptive parents are equipped to care for the child.
  • Waiting Period or Foster Care: Every state DIF has its own rules regarding the bonding or waiting period. Prospective adoptive parents must verify this with the State DIF adoptions office.
  • Intra-family adoptions: Intra-family adoptions are permitted but must be completed through the same Convention process as non-family adoptions. This includes that the child must have been relinquished or abandoned and must be in state custody or care. The prospective adoptive parent family member may specify an interest in adopting a family member in the application to adopt submitted to the Mexican Central Authority.
How to Adopt

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

Mexico’s Adoption Authority

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Family Law Office (SRE)
(Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores, Dirección de Derecho de Familia)

National System for Family Development – National and State offices (DIF)
(Desarollo Integral de la Familia)

Mexico has designated the SRE, National DIF and the 31 state DIF offices to perform various central authority functions. The SRE is the lead authority to which all applications and Convention process communications must be submitted. The National DIF coordinates national policy for domestic and intercountry adoption cases and is in charge of authorization of U.S. adoption service providers in Mexico. The state DIF offices handle much of the hands-on processing of intercountry adoptions, including making a referral to a child and providing written documentation regarding the child’s background.

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 [Country] 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 Mexico is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Mexico 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 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.


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 in Mexico
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 (or Obtain Legal Custody) of child in Mexico
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 Mexico 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 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. The accredited adoption service provider must also be authorized to operate in Mexico. Mexico requires foreign prospective adoptive parents to use an adoption service provider that has been authorized by the Mexican Central Authority.  Further details on authorized agencies may be obtained through the national DIF office, including on the DIF’s website (which is only available in Spanish).

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 Mexico as part of your adoption dossier. Mexico’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Mexico’s law. All adoption dossiers must be submitted first to the SRE, which will forward to the appropriate DIF offices.

3. Be Matched with a Child by in Mexico

If both the United States and Mexico determine that you are eligible to adopt, and the Mexican Central Authority has determined that a child is available for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Mexican Central Authority 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 Mexico. The adoption authority in Mexico (usually the state DIF) 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 Mexico. 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 Mexico City that is responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Mexico. 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 Mexican Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Mexico 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 Mexican 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 Mexico 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 (or Obtain Legal Custody) of Child in Mexico

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

The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody) in Mexico generally includes the following:

  • Role of Adoption Authority:
    • Receives and registers adoption dossiers and forwards to appropriate DIF offices (SRE)
    • Reviews and makes determination on applications for authorization to provide adoption services in Mexico by U.S. Hague accredited or approved adoption service providers (National DIF)
    • Documents child’s social and medical history in an Article 16 report/referral
    • Refers a child to prospective adoptive parents (state DIF)
    • Oversees court adoption process (state DIF)
    • Reviews adoption process and issues required Article 23 Hague certification after adoption if adoption was Hague complaint (SRE)
    • Receives post adoption reports and forwards to appropriate DIF office. (SRE)
  • Role of the Court: Reviews intercountry adoption applications submitted to court by state DIF after the Article 5 letter is issued by the U.S. Embassy. Issues an adoption order for the placement of the child with the prospective adoptive parents.

    The court process usually takes from four to six months depending on the court’s workload. Prospective adoptive parents are required to appear in person at least twice during the court process for hearings and to provide testimony to the Civil/Family judge and State DIF personnel. Prospective adoptive parents are also required to provide two witnesses to provide testimony about their financial status, housing conditions, criminal history and character of PAPs. All of the testimony will be evaluated and recorded in the final adoption decree.

    Prospective adoptive parents must obtain three certified copies of the full and final adoption decree. These three copies are necessary in order to: 1) request a new birth certificate from the Civil Registry showing the new name of the child, 2) apply for the Mexican passport from the SRE and 3) apply for the Article 23 Certificate with the SRE.

  • Role of Adoption Agencies: The U.S. accredited adoption service provider facilitates adoptions by U.S. prospective adoptive parents in Mexico. The U.S. adoption service provider either conducts or oversees the prospective adoptive parents’ home study to ensure that it complies with U.S. and state law where the prospective adoptive parents reside. Once the prospective adoptive parents are found eligible and suitable to adopt/I-800A is approved, the ASP submits the adoption dossier to the SRE and may communicate with the appropriate DIF office regarding the application. The ASP receives the Article 16 referral and assists the prospective adoptive parents in submitting a form I-800 to NBC. After the provisional approval of Form I-800, the ASP coordinates with the U.S Embassy in Mexico to provide documentation necessary for the Article 5 review and for issuance of an Article 5 letter.  After the Article 5 letter is issued, the ASP helps the prospective adoptive parents in meeting the court requirements and in obtaining the documentation necessary for the final visa application, including a new birth certificate and Mexican passport for the child. After the adoption is final and a visa is issued, the adoption service provider assists the family with Mexico’s post adoption reporting requirements. Please note that Mexico requires the primary adoption service provider to continue to assist the family to meet Mexican post-adoption reporting requirements after the adoption is completed.
  • Time Frame: After the prospective adoptive parents have a provisionally approved Form I-800, it typically takes six months or longer to complete the Mexican adoption process and to secure the necessary documentation.  Please note that obtaining a Mexican passport for an adopted child often takes an additional four weeks, and some adoptive parents have reported waiting as long as two months.
  • Adoption Application: Prospective adoptive parents, in coordination with their adoption service provider, must submit an online application.
  • Adoption Fees: 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. DIF does not charge any fees in connection with processing an adoption in Mexico.

    Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Mexico include:

    • State DIF legal services are free throughout the adoption process from initial match of the prospective adoptive parents with the child until after the adoption and after issuance of a new birth certificate showing the child’s new name; court services are also completely free of charge.
    • Prospective adoptive parents must be prepared to pay for certified copies of the full and final adoption decree (costs may vary from state to state but are generally about 10 Mexican pesos or under $1 per page). This payment is made at authorized banks and the receipt will be required by the court to process the copies. Mexican passport fee information can be obtained through the SRE’s web site.
  • Documents Required: Mexican Central Authority requirements to issue Article 23 certification that an adoption was made in accordance with the Convention:
    1. - Original birth certificate of the child (the birth certificate stating the child’s previous name as well as the new one recording the name after adoption);
    2. - Certified copy of the adoption decree;
    3. - Certified copy of the document that declares that the adoption decree is final  (causó “estado” or “ejecutoria”);
    4. - Original and a copy of the adoptive parents´ passports;
    5. - Copy of a document the current address of the adoptive parents; and
    6. - Original documents, issued by the U.S, Embassy in Mexico City (Article 5 letter)as well as by the Mexican Central Authority (Article 17 letter), demonstrating compliance with Articles 5 and 17 of the Convention. These documents must have been issued prior to the date of the adoption decree.
    7. *Originals are returned except for the items identified in No. 6

  • Note: Additional documents may be requested.

  • Authentication of Documents: The United States and Mexico are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
  • Note: All documents must be translated into the Spanish language; prospective adoptive parents should verify this requirement with the State DIF.

6. Obtain an Immigrant Visa for your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Now that your adoption is complete ,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
After the adoption process is finalized in court, the judge will issue a full and final adoption decree declaring the child’s new name and parents. Adoptive parents should use this adoption decree to apply for a new birth certificate reflecting the child’s new name and parents. The new birth certificate can be obtained by submitting the original final adoption decree or a certified copy of the adoption decree to the Office of Civil Registry where the child’s birth was originally registered. You may use this new birth certificate to apply for your child’s Mexican passport.

Please note that Mexico requires than an adoption be finalized prior to the child’s departure for the United States in order to meet Convention requirements. Court ordered grants of custody for purpose of adoption in the United States do not comply with Mexico’s Convention requirements. Prospective adoptive parents who have not yet completed a full and final adoption in Mexico will not be able to obtain a new birth certificate for the child and will not be able to complete Mexico’s Convention process.

Mexican Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a Mexican travel document or passport . Mexico requires that the child and both adoptive parents appear in person to apply for the child’s Mexican passport. For more details on the Mexican passport application process and requirements, you should refer to information provided by the SRE.

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 Mexico City, Mexico. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, make an appointment to visit the U.S Embassy for final review of the case, issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of Form I-800, and to obtain your child’s immigrant 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. Read more about the Medical Examination.

Child Citizenship Act

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 MEXICO

In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. Mexico requires United States citizens travelling to Mexico for the purposes of adoption to obtain a visa for purposes of adoption before entering Mexico. Once in Mexico, adoptive parents will be given a certain period of time within which to register with the Mexican Immigration Authority, or the Instituto de Migraciones. To find information about obtaining a visa for Mexico, 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 [Country], 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

Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Mexico requires post adoption reporting twice a year for the first three years and once a year thereafter until the age of 18. All reports should be submitted to the Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores by an accredited adoption service provider that is also authorized to provide services in Mexico. We strongly urge you to comply with Mexico’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.

Post-Adoption Resources
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 Mexico
Paseo de la Reforma 305
Colonia Cuauhtémoc
06500 Mexico, D.F.
Tel: 011-52-55-50-80-2000.
Internet: mx.usembassy.gov

Mexico Adoption Authority
Secretaria de Relaciones Exteriores (SRE)
Dirección de Derecho de la Familia
Plaza Juarez, numero 20, piso 17
Colonia Centro, Delegación Cuauhtémoc, 52 55 3686 5100 x 7543
C.P. 06010, México, D.F. Tel: (55) 368665100
Website: http: //www.sre.gob.mx/index.php/oficinas-centrales/direccion-general-de-proteccion-a-mexicanos-en-el-exterior 

Sistema Nacional Para El Desarrollo Integral de la Familia (DIF)
Prol. Xochicalco 947, 1er Piso
Col. Santa Cruz Atoyac
Del Benito Juarez, C.P. 03310
México, D.F. Tel: (55) 3033 2200 x 6131
Website: http://sitios.dif.gob.mx/transparencia/transparencia_focalizada/adopciones/

Embassy of Mexico
Embassy of Mexico
Consular Section
2827 16th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20009-4260
Tel: (202) 736-1000
Website: http: //embamex.sre.gob.mx/eua/
Mexico also has 50 consulates in the United States. A listing of them can be found at the following website: http: //www.sre.gob.mx/index.php/representaciones/consulados-de-mexico-en-el-exterior

Office of Children’s Issues
U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street, N.W. SA-17
Washington, D.C. 20522-1707
Tel: 1-888-407-4747
Email: AdoptionUSCA@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-800A or I-800 petition: USCIS National Benefits Center
Tel: 1-877-424-8374 (toll free); 1-816-251-2770 (local)
Email: NBC.Hague@uscis.dhs.gov

Note: The Mexican Central Authority informed the U.S. Central Authority it does not issue statements of habitual residence.

 

Assistance for U.S. Citizens

U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma 305
Colonia Cuauhtemoc
Mexico, D.F., Mexico C.P.
06500
Telephone
011-52-55-5080-2000
Emergency
American Citizen Services: 01 800 681 9374 (toll free in Mexico) / 81 4160 5512 (from within Mexico) / 844 528 6611 (toll free in the U.S.)
Fax
011-52-55-5080-2201
Mexico Map