Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > South Sudan Intercountry Adoption Information
Reissued with obsolete COVID-19 page links removed.
Do not travel to South Sudan due to crime, kidnapping, and armed conflict.
Country Summary: Violent crime, such as carjackings, shootings, ambushes, assaults, robberies, and kidnappings is common throughout South Sudan, including Juba. Foreign nationals have been the victims of rape, sexual assault, armed robberies, and other violent crimes.
Armed conflict is ongoing and includes fighting between various political and ethnic groups. Weapons are readily available to the population. In addition, cattle raids occur throughout the country and often lead to violence.
Reporting in South Sudan without the proper documentation from the South Sudanese Media Authority is considered illegal, and any journalistic work there is very dangerous. Journalists regularly report being harassed in South Sudan, and many have been killed while covering the conflict.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency consular services to U.S. citizens in South Sudan. U.S. government personnel in South Sudan are under a strict curfew. They must use armored vehicles for nearly all movements, and official travel outside Juba is limited. Due to the critical crime threat in Juba, walking is also restricted; when allowed, it is limited to a small area in the immediate vicinity of the Embassy and during daylight hours only. Family members cannot accompany U.S. government employees who work in South Sudan.
Due to risks to civil aviation operating within or in the vicinity of South Sudan, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) and/or a Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR). For more information U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions, and Notices.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to South Sudan.
If you decide to travel to South Sudan:
South Sudan is not a party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention or Convention). Under the Intercountry Adoption Universal Accreditation Act of 2012 (UAA), which became effective on July 14, 2014, the requirement that adoption service providers be accredited or approved, and therefore meet the accreditation standards, which previously only applied in Convention cases, now also applies in non-Convention (“orphan”) cases under section 101(b)(1)(F) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). The UAA requires that an accredited or approved adoption service provider act as the primary provider in every Convention or non-Convention intercountry adoption case, and that adoption service providers providing any adoption services, as defined at 22 CFR Part 96.2, on behalf of prospective adoptive parents be accredited or approved, or be a supervised or exempted provider. See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required. Intercountry adoptions of children from non-Convention countries continue to be processed under the Orphan Process with the filing of the Forms I-600A and I-600. However, adoption service providers should be aware of the information on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website on the impact of the UAA on Form I-600A and Form I-600 adjudications, including the requirement that all home studies, including home study updates and amendments, comply with the home study requirements listed at 8 CFR 204.311, which differ from the orphan home study requirements that were in effect before July 14, 2014.
The 2008 Child Act of Southern Sudan provides a legal framework for adoption in South Sudan. Prospective adoptive parents are cautioned, however, that the lack of judicial resources in South Sudan may mean that any adoption or custody decree issued by courts in South Sudan may be insufficient for the purposes of U.S. immigration petitions.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from South Sudan you must meet certain suitability and eligibility requirements. USCIS determines who is suitable and eligible to adopt a child from another country and bring that child to live in the United States under U.S. immigration law.
Additionally, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order to be eligible to immigrate to the United States with an IR-3 or IR-4 immigrant visa.
In addition to being found suitable and eligible to adopt by USCIS, prospective adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child from South Sudan must meet the following requirements:
Under the INA 101(b)(1)(F), a child can be considered an orphan because of the death or disappearance of, abandonment or desertion by, or separation or loss from both parents, or in the case where there is a sole or surviving parent who is incapable of providing the proper care and has in writing irrevocably released the child for emigration and adoption.
In addition to qualifying as an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the child must also meet the following requirements of South Sudan:
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 rarely relinquished their parental rights or consented to the adoption of their child(ren).
South Sudan’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare
The process for adopting a child from South Sudan generally includes the following steps:
1. Choose a U.S. Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Provider To Act as Your Primary Provider
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-600A)
3. Apply to South Sudan’s Authorities to Adopt, and to be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in South Sudan
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
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
Before taking steps to adopt a child from South Sudan, you should select a U.S. accredited or approved adoption service provider to be the primary provider in your case. Your primary provider is responsible for:
For more information on primary providers and the UAA, please see Universal Accreditation Act of 2012. See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required. Learn more about Agency Accreditation.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
In order to adopt a child from South Sudan, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of South Sudan and U.S. immigration law.
To meet U.S. immigration requirements, you may choose to file a Form I-600A, Application for Advance Processing of an Orphan Petition, with USCIS, to be found suitable and eligible to adopt. If you have already identified the child you wish to adopt, you may also choose to file the Form I-600 petition for the child and include all the required supporting documentation for the Form I-600A application (i.e., an approved home study) so USCIS can make a determination on your suitability and eligibility to adopt before reviewing the child’s eligibility as an orphan. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options. 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 South Sudan’s Authorities to Adopt and be Matched with a Child
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. immigration law, South Sudan requires you to submit an adoption application to the Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare of South Sudan to be found eligible to adopt by the Republic of South Sudan.
Applications for adoption of a child in South Sudan must be submitted to a court. Foreign prospective adoptive parents must submit their application to the High Court. Foreigners seeking to adopt must demonstrate that they:
In addition, they must satisfy the High Court that:
The court may impose additional terms and conditions in the order for adoptions by foreign prospective adoptive parents.
The Child Act of 2008 requires a social worker to submit a report that includes information, where known, on the identity, adoptability, backgrounbd, social environment, family and medical history, and any special needs of child. The Court may also require reports from other persons or local authorites.
The Child Act of 2008 requires an authorized person to declare the child available for adoption. Additionally, the Child Act requires that a registry of adopted children be maintained. There is no information on how the determination is made on a child’s adoptability or any procedures for matching prospective adoptive children with prospective adoptive parents.
The Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare will review your adoption dossier and, if an appropriate match is found, may provide you with a 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 ultimately adhere to the USCIS’ suitability determination (i.e., typically the Form I-600A approval notice) with respect to the number of children you are approved to adopt and the characteristics of the child(ren) (such as age, gender, nationality, and/or special need, disability, and/or impairment) that you are approved to adopt. Learn more about Health Considerations
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to South Sudan’s requirements, as described in the Who Can Be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law.
4. Adopt the Child in South Sudan
The process for finalizing the adoption in South Sudan generally includes the following:
Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
o Identifying a child for adoption and arranging an adoption;
o Securing the necessary consent to termination of parental rights and to adoption;
o Performing a background study on a child or a home study on a prospective adoptive parent(s), and reporting on such a study;
o Making non-judicial determinations of the best interests of a child and the appropriateness of an adoptive placement for the child;
o Monitoring a case after a child has been placed with prospective adoptive parent(s) until final adoption; or
o When necessary because of a disruption before final adoption, assuming custody and providing (including facilitating the provision of) child care or any other social service pending an alternative placement, 22 CFR 96.2 Definitions.
Note: See additional guidance for limited situations when a primary provider may not be required.
We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them directly or through their U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to U.S. law, or the law of South Sudan, with your adoption service provider, and, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. Improper payments violate applicable law, or create the appearance of buying a child, and could put all future adoptions in South Sudan at risk. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, for instance, makes it unlawful to make payments to foreign government officials to assist in obtaining or retaining business. Further, the UAA and IAA make certain actions relating to intercountry adoptions unlawful and subject to civil and criminal penalties. These include offering, giving, soliciting, or accepting inducement by way of compensation intended to influence or affect the relinquishment of parental rights, parental consent relating to adoption of a child, or a decision by an entity performing functions as a competent authority, or to engage another person as an agent to take any such action.
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.
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption in South Sudan, USCIS must determine if the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law in order for the child to immigrate to the United States. You will need to file a Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, on behalf of the child and unless an exception applies, you must identify a primary provider.
If you have a valid Form I-600A approval, you may file your Form I-600 petition in the United States with the USCIS National Benefits Center or in person at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. Immigrant visas for South Sudan are processed in Nairobi. Please see the USCIS website for more information about filing options.
When a Form I-600 petition is adjudicated by USCIS in the United States, the consular section in Nairobi, Kenya, must complete a Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (sometimes informally referred to as an orphan determination) to verify the child’s orphan status.
When a Form I-600 petition is filed with the U.S. Embassy Nairobi’s consular section, the consular officer must complete the Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption, to verify the child’s orphan status. Conducting the Form I-604 determination is a critical part of the non-Convention adoption process. It can take months to complete, depending upon the circumstances of your case. Consular officers appreciate that families are eager to bring their adopted child home as quickly as possible. Some of the factors that may contribute to the length of the process include prevailing fraud patterns in the country of origin, civil unrest or security concerns that restrict travel to certain areas of the country, and the number of determinations performed by available staff. Consular officers make every effort to conduct them as quickly and thoroughly as possible. You are advised to keep your travel plans flexible while awaiting the results.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete and the Form I-604 determination has been completed, finding that your child meets the legal definition of an orphan for immigration purposes, 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 South Sudan, you will first need to apply for an amended birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the amended birth certificate.
Birth certificates are usually provided at birth by hospitals through agreements with the state government. The Ministry of Health is responsible for issuing new and amended birth certificates. Birth certificates and age assessments are available only to those resident in South Sudan. For children born in a hospital, the children's parents can apply for a birth certificate within the first few days of the child's birth. If the child was born in a hospital and a birth certificate was not immediately obtained, then the child may be able obtain one, but would likely need an age assessment.
Children born outside of a hospital obtain an age assessment from each state health commission. The document contains the full name of the child, the parents' names, the city and state where the child was born. A day/month/year is given at the time of the age assessment. The age is determined based on information gained at an interview with the child and parents, clan elders, dental exam, and circumference of the head, among other things.
All birth certificates and age assessments must be done in South Sudan. In the near future, each state will be able to process age assessments, which are only processed in Juba at this time. Embassies do not issue birth certificates.
South Sudan Passport
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from South Sudan.
Passports can be obtained through the Ministry of Interior’s Directorate of Immigration. Prior to applying for a passport, however, a certificate of nationality must be obtained through the Directorate of Nationality. Each of these steps takes approximately seven days.
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child and you have filed Form I-600, you then need to apply for a U.S. immigrant visa for your child from the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you As part of this process, you must provide the consular officer with the Panel Physician’s medical report on the child.
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). If you filed a Form I-600 petition in the United States, you should receive a letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) confirming receipt of the 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.
Please note that the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, processes immigrant visas for non-U.S. citizens located in South Sudan. Additional information concerning immigrant visa processing at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, can be found on the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, website.
Upon receipt of the case, the Consular Section generally notifies the petitioner. 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 Nairobi, Kenya before making final travel arrangements. Additional information on immigrant visa processing can be found on the 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.
Read more about the Child Citizenship Act of 2000.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
U.S. citizens are required to enter and depart the United States on a valid U.S. passport. Once your child acquires U.S. citizenship, he/she 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 South Sudan
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 South Sudan, 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 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 or Consulate in South Sudan, 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 South Sudan, 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).
Post-Adoption/Post-Placement Reporting Requirements
South Sudan does not require post-adoption reporting.
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 Nairobi, 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-600/A process.
The Complaint Registry is an internet based registry for filing complaints about U.S. accredited or approved adoption service providers. 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.
U.S. Embassy in the Republic of South Sudan
Tel: +211 912 105 188
Republic of South Sudan’s Adoption Authority
Ministry of Gender, Child, and Social Welfare
Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan
Address: 1233 20th Street NW, Suite 602
Washington, D.C. 20036
U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya
United Nations Avenue
P.O. Box 606
00621 Nairobi, Kenya
Tel: +254 (0)20 363-6622
Fax: +254 (0)20 363-6410
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about filing a Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition with the
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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