Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Senegal Intercountry Adoption Information
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Casamance Region – Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution
There are sporadic reports of armed banditry in the Casamance region.
Landmines from prior conflicts remain a concern in the region.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in the Casamance region. U.S. government employees are required to coordinate all travel to the area with security officials and any travel off the main routes generally requires additional security measures (e.g. driving in a caravan of multiple vehicles, consulting local security officials, or carrying personal travel locaters). U.S. government employees are also prohibited from travelling after dark anywhere in the Casamance region.
Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.
Senegal is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Intercountry adoption processing in Hague countries is done in accordance with the requirements of the Convention; the U.S. implementing legislation, the Intercountry Adoption Act of 2000 (IAA); and the IAA’s implementing regulations, as well as the implementing legislation and regulations of Senegal.
The Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for Senegal on December 1, 2011. However, Senegal did not implement procedures for the processing of Convention adoptions and did not approve new intercountry adoptions from 2012 to 2020. The Government of Senegal announced in July 2020 that it would begin processing adoptions under the Hague Convention.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Senegal, 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 Senegal must meet certain requirements imposed by Senegal.
The Senegalese Central Authority will allow requests for intercountry adoption:
Because Senegal is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, children from Senegal 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 Senegal have determined that placement of the child within Guinea has been given due consideration and that an intercountry adoption is in the child’s best interests.
ELIGIBILITY FOR ADOPTION:
While both simple adoption and plenary adoption are permissible under Senegaln law, only children subject to a plenary adoption are eligible for U.S. immigration benefits through intercountry adoption. Generally, simple adoptions do not irrevocably sever parental rights with the prior legal parents, and therefore do not qualify as an “adoption” for purposes of U.S. immigration law.
WARNING: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Senegal 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 Senegal 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.
Senegal’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice, Directorate of Supervised Education and Social Protection (Direction de l'Éducation Surveillée et de la Protection Sociale – DESPS)
Because Senegal is party to The Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Senegal must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A brief summary of the Convention adoption process is given below. You must complete these steps in the following order so that your adoption meets all necessary legal requirements. Adoptions completed out of order may 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 That Has Been Authorized by Senegal’s Central Authority to Operate in Senegal to Act as Your Primary Provider.
The first step in adopting a child from Senegal is to select an adoption service provider in the United States that has been accredited or approved, and authorized by Senegal’s Central Authority to operate in Senegal to provide intercountry adoption services to U.S. citizens. 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:
Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
3. Apply to Senegal’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 Central Authority in Senegal as part of your adoption application. Senegal’s Central Authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Senegalese law.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and Senegal determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Senegal’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, then the Central Authority for Convention adoptions in Senegal 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. In order to qualify for a referral from the United States the adoption must be plenary. Simple adoptions are not valid for purposes of U.S. immigration law because they do not include an irrevocable severance of ties between prior legal parents and the child. The adoption authority in Senegal 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 Senegal. Learn more about this critical decision.
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 Dakar, Senegal.
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, 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, advise 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 Senegal’s Central Authority in an intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Senegal if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Senegalese 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.
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 Senegal (or Obtain Legal Custody of the child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption)
Remember: Before you adopt (or obtain legal custody of) a child in Senegal, 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 Senegal.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or obtaining legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption) in Senegal generally includes the following:
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child for the purposes of emigration and adoption of the child in the United States), 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 Senegal, 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 purpose 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.
Birth certificates are issued by the Civil Register in the community in which the child was born based on a Declaration of Birth, which is issued by a hospital.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Senegal.
An application for a Senegalese passport should be submitted to the “Bureau des passeports.” Required with the passport application are the child's birth certificate, two passport-sized photographs, a parental authorization letter, a certified copy of the parent(s) ID, and an affidavit of support issued by the City Hall or the Ministry of Justice. An application for a Senegalese passport should be submitted after the adoption is complete. The passport fee is 20,000 Francs CFA, and the passport should be available within two weeks.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child you must apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Dakar, Senegal. Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Dakar processes immigrant visas for non-U.S. citizens located in Senegal. Additional information concerning immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Dakar can be found on the U.S. Embassy in Dakar’s website. After the adoption (or custody for purposes of emigration and adoption) is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Dakar for final review of the case, and if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption Certificate or Hague Custody Certificate, final approval of the child’s 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 Dakar by email at DakarImmigrantVisa@state.gov 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. Visa issuance after the final interview generally takes one week. Immigrant visa pickup times are Tuesday and Thursday at 2:00pm. 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 Dakar 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 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.
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. Once your child acquires U.S. citizenship, s/he will need a U.S. passport for international travel. 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 Department of State’s 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 Senegal
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Senegal, see the Department of State’s country page.
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 information for every country in the world about various issues, including health conditions, crime, currency or entry requirements, and any areas of instability.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
When traveling abroad during the adoption process, we encourage you to enroll with the Department of State through our Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country. Enrollment makes it possible for the U.S. Embassy in Senegal to contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency. Whether there is a family emergency in the United States or a crisis in Senegal, enrollment assists the U.S. Embassy in reaching you.
Enrollment is free and can be done online via the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
Post-adoption reports on the adoptee’s health and welfare should be submitted to the Ministry of Justice, Directorate of Supervised Education and Social Protection (Direction de l'Éducation Surveillée et de la Protection Sociale – DESPS). The timing of post-adoption reports is set by the DESPS in each case.
We urge you to comply with Senegal’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 Senegal’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 Department of State, 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.
Senegal’s Adoption Authority
Autorité Centrale Compétente en matière d'Adoption internationale au Sénégal (ACCAI)
Direction de l’Education Surveillée et de la Protection Sociale
Ministère de la Justice
Rue 9 Allées Seydou Nourou Tall X Bourguiba Point E lot 2
Tel: +(221) 33-824-1479
Embassy of Senegal in the United States
2215 M Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20037
Tel: (202) 234-0540
Fax: (202) 629-2961
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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