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Last Update: Reissued after periodic review with minor edits.
Poland is a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Convention countries must be done in accordance with the requirements of the Hague Adoption Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations; as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Poland.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Poland, 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.
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from Poland must meet the following requirements imposed by Poland:
Because Poland is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Poland must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for intercountry adoption. For example, the adoption may take place only if the competent authorities of Poland have determined that placement of the child within Poland has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.
In addition to qualifying as a Convention adoptee under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements imposed by Poland:
Please note, while adoptions may be permitted in the cases identified above, the Polish Central Authority may, at its discretion, decide to deny an approved placement and thereby halt the continuation of the adoption in certain situations. Therefore, prospective adoptive parents should consider any match with a Polish child as preliminary until the Polish Central Authority officially approves of the adoption under Article 17 of the Hague Adoption Convention.
The eligibility factors identified above are not determinative by themselves, as each case is looked at individually in order to make a decision in the best interests of the child. For example, although intercountry adoption for the purpose of reuniting sibling groups may still be considered, the child may remain in Poland if he/she has any siblings that reside in Poland. In addition, the child’s eligibility for intercountry adoption may change if the child’s situation changes, such as if an eligible child’s medical condition begins to improve, that child may no longer be eligible for intercountry adoption.
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 possible. In such cases, the birth parent(s) have not relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Poland before: 1) USCIS has approved your Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country, 2) the Central Authority of Poland has determined the child is eligible for intercountry adoption, 3) USCIS has provisionally approved your Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative, and 4) a U.S. consular officer has issued an “Article 5/17 Letter” in the case. Read on for more information.
Poland’s Central Adoption Authority
The Department of Family Policy within the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Policy.
Because Poland is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Poland must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is provided below. You must complete these steps in the following order to meet all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may cause significant delays or 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 To Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by Poland’s Central Authority to Operate in Poland
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
3. Apply to Poland’s Authorities to Adopt, and Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee (Form I-800) and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption (Art. 5/17 letter)
5. Adopt the Child in Poland
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider to Act as Your Primary Provider That Has Been Authorized by Poland’s Central Authority to Operate in Poland
The first step in adopting a child from Poland is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved to provide intercountry adoption services to U.S. citizens and that has been authorized by the Government of Poland. A primary provider must be identified in each Convention case and only accredited or approved adoption service providers may act as the primary provider in your case. Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services in your case, a primary provider is required in every intercountry adoption case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from Poland, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Poland and U.S. immigration law.
After you choose an accredited or approved adoption service provider, you must be found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS by submitting Form I-800A, Application for Determination of Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country. You will need to submit a home study, provide biometrics, and cooperate in a background check as part of this application. Read more about Suitability and Eligibility Requirements. Unless an exception applies, the home study must be prepared by a person who is authorized under 22 CFR 96 to prepare home studies and must comply with the requirements in 8 CFR 204.311.
3. Apply to Poland’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child
Submit Your Dossier to the Central Authority
After USCIS determines that you are suitable and eligible to adopt and approves the Form I-800A application, your adoption service provider will provide your approval notice, home study, and any other required information to the adoption authority in Poland as part of your adoption application. Poland’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Poland’s law.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and Poland determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Poland’s Central Authority for Convention adoptions has determined that a child is eligible for adoption and that intercountry adoption is in that child’s best interests, the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in Poland may provide you with a referral. The referral is a proposed match between you and a specific child based on a review of your dossier and the needs of the child. The adoption authority in Poland will provide a background study and other information, if available, about the child to help you decide whether to accept the referral. We encourage families to consider consulting with a medical professional and their adoption service provider to understand the needs of the specific child but you must decide for yourself whether you will be able to meet the needs of, and provide a permanent home for a specific child. You must also adhere to the recommendations in the home study submitted to USCIS with respect to the number of children and capacity to deal with any special needs of an adoptive child. Learn more about Health Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in Poland. Learn more about this critical decision.
Note: The Catholic Adoption Center (CAC) in Poland is the government-designated entity responsible for matching a Polish child with foreign prospective adoptive parents and providing prospective adoptive families with a referral for a Polish child. Prospective adoptive parents should consider any referral for a Polish child from CAC to be preliminary until the Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Policy (“Ministry”) issues its Article 17 approval. Furthermore, there should be no contact between the child and prospective adoptive parent(s) until the Ministry issues its Article 17 approval, in accordance with Polish law.
4. Apply to USCIS for the Child to be Found Provisionally Eligible for Immigration to the United States as a Convention Adoptee and Receive U.S. Agreement to Proceed with the Adoption
Submit a Petition for a Determination on the Child’s Immigration Eligibility
After you accept being matched with a particular child, you will apply to USCIS for provisional approval for the child to immigrate to the United States by filing the Form I-800, Petition to Classify Convention Adoptee as an Immediate Relative. USCIS will make a provisional determination as to whether the child appears to meet the definition of a Convention adoptee and will likely be eligible to be admitted to the United States.
Submit an Immigrant Visa Application
After provisional approval of Form I-800 petition, you or your adoption service provider will submit a visa application to the consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Poland.
You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assigning a case number and an invoice ID number. Use this information to log into the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to file the Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) for your child. An adoptive parent should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Please review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact the NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form. A consular officer will review the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and the visa application and, if applicable, advises you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.
The consular officer will send a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to the adoption service provider’s representative in Poland in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Poland if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform Poland’s Central Authority that the parents are suitable and eligible to adopt, that the child appears eligible to enter and reside permanently in the United States, and that the U.S. Central Authority agrees that the adoption may proceed. The adoption service provider’s representative is responsible for translating and submitting this letter to Poland’s Central Authority and/or the Catholic Adoption Center.
Warning: Do not attempt to adopt a child in Poland before you receive provisional approval of your Form I-800 petition AND a U.S. consular officer issues the “Article 5/17 Letter” for your 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 the Child in Poland
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Poland, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption
The process for finalizing the adoption in Poland generally includes the following:
Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services in your case, there must be a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider acting as the primary provider in every case. Also, any agency or person providing an adoption service on behalf of prospective adoptive parents in any Convention or non-Convention intercountry adoption case must be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your adoption service provider will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process.
Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Poland include:
Note: Additional documents may be requested. The set of documents for the court should contain one original of each document. The dossier submitted to The Catholic Adoption Center and the Ministry should contain one legible copy of each document. All documents in English should be accompanied by translations into Polish done by a sworn translator. American civil documents should be properly authenticated in the United States.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete, there are a few more steps to take before your child can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents before your child can travel to the United States:
You will need to obtain a birth certificate for your child.
If you have finalized the adoption in Poland, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
If you have been granted legal custody for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States, the birth certificate you obtain will, in most cases, not yet include your name.
In order to obtain a birth certificate for the child, you may apply at the local civil registry office for a new PESEL personal identification number and a new, complete birth certificate (zupelny akt urodzenia). You will need to submit one original of the adoption court decree to the civil registry office where the child’s birth was originally registered. The civil registry will record the child’s new personal data and automatically generate a new PESEL number. Then, as mandated in the adoption decree, the child’s name will be changed and the adoptive parents will be listed as parents on the new birth certificate. Families usually request at least 4 copies of the child’s complete birth certificates for future use. The cost is 33 PLN per copy. Once the civil registry records have been updated, you will no longer be able to obtain your child’s original birth certificate.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Poland.
After receiving the child’s new PESEL identification number and a new birth certificate, both parents may apply for a Polish passport for the child from either the local passport office from the region where the child was adopted or the main passport office in Warsaw. A passport application signed by both adoptive parents, the PESEL number, the new birth certificate, parents’ passports, one photograph, and a fee of 30 PLN must all be submitted in order to apply for a Polish passport on behalf of the child. Adopted children are generally issued a temporary Polish passport with a one-year validity for travel within 2 to 3 days of submission of the application package. A regular Polish passport, if necessary, might be later obtained from one of the Polish consulates in the United States.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child you need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw. After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy for a final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, the final approval of the Form I-800 petition, and to obtain your child’s immigrant visa. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule your child’s immigrant visa appointment. As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child if you did not provide it during the Form I-800 provisional approval stage. Read more about the Medical Examination.
Before coming for your child’s immigrant visa interview, please complete an Electronic Immigrant Visa Application (DS-260) online at the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). You should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the provisionally approved Form I-800 petition and assignment of a case number and an invoice ID number. You will need this information to log into CEAC to file the DS-260 for your child. You should fill out these forms in your child's name. Answer every item on the form. If information is not applicable, please write “N/A” in the block. Print and bring the DS-260 confirmation page to the visa interview. Review the DS-260 FAQs, our Online Immigrant Visa Forms page, or contact NVC at NVCAdoptions@state.gov or +1-603-334-0700 if you have questions about completing the online DS-260 form.
Upon receipt of the case at post, the Consular Section generally notifies the petitioner. If the consular officer determines that the child is eligible for an immigrant visa, visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours. It is not usually possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the same day as the immigrant visa interview. You should verify current processing times with the U.S. Embassy in Chisinau before making final travel arrangements. Additional information on immigrant visa processing can be found on our website.
Child Citizenship Act
For adoptions finalized abroad prior to the child’s admission into the United States: An adopted child residing in the United States in the legal and physical custody of the U.S. citizen parent pursuant to a lawful admission for permanent residence generally will acquire U.S. citizenship automatically upon admission into the United States if the child otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000, including that the child is under the age of eighteen.
For adoptions finalized after the child’s admission into the United States: You will need to complete an adoption following your child’s admission into the United States and before the child turns eighteen for the child (if he or she otherwise meets the requirements of the Child Citizenship Act of 2000) to automatically acquire U.S. citizenship.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
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.
American citizens traveling to Poland do not need to obtain a visa.
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.
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 Poland, 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).
When adopting from Poland, adoptive parents must sign a written statement agreeing to:
We urge you to comply with Poland’s post-adoption/post-placement requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Poland’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. There are many public and private nonprofit post-adoption services available for children and their families. There are also numerous adoptive family support groups and adoptee organizations active in the United States that provide a network of options for adoptees who seek out other adoptees from the same country of origin. You may wish to take advantage of all the resources available to your family, whether it is another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services. Your primary provider can provide or point you to post- placement/post-adoption services to help your adopted child and your family transition smoothly and deal effectively with the many adjustments required in an intercountry adoption.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains a website, the Child Welfare Information Gateway, which can be a useful resource to get you started on your support group search.
If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Warsaw, particularly if it involves possible fraud or misconduct specific to your child’s case. The Department of State takes all allegations of fraud or misconduct seriously. Our Adoption Comment Page provides several points of contact for adoptive families to comment on their adoption service provider, their experience applying for their child’s visa, or about the Form I-800/A petition process.
The Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about the compliance of U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers with U.S. accreditation standards. If you think your provider's conduct may not have been in compliance with accreditation standards, first submit your complaint in writing directly to your provider. If the complaint is not resolved through the provider's complaint process, you may file the complaint through the Complaint Registry.
Poland’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Family, Labor, and Social Policy
Department of Family Policy
11 Nowogrodzka Street
00-513 Warsaw, Poland
Tel: +48 (22) 529-0678
Fax: +48 (22) 429-0661
Poland’s Authorized Adoption Center
Catholic Adoption Center
5 Ratuszowa Street
03-461 Warsaw, Poland
Tel: +48 (22) 818-5430
Embassy of Poland
224 Wyoming Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20008-3992
Tel: (202) 499-1930
Poland also has consulates in: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Houston.
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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