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Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Please see our section on Adoptions from the United States for more information on the process for adopting a child from the United States. We urge prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) residing abroad who are considering adoption of a child from the United States to consult with Thailand’s Central Authority, the Child Adoption Center for its determination as to whether it considers your adoption to be subject to the Convention.
Thailand 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 Thailand.
A domestic adoption of a Thai child cannot be processed under Thailand’s laws and procedures implementing the Hague Adoption Convention. A domestic adoption will not render a child eligible under U.S. law as a beneficiary of a Form I-800 petition or an IH-3 or IH-4 immigrant visa. In certain circumstances, such an adopted child may be eligible for U.S. immigration benefits through approval of a Form I-130 petition, after the adoptive parent accrues two years of joint residence with and two years of legal custody of the child. For more information on this process, please visit the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Thailand, 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 Thailand must meet the following requirements imposed by Thailand:
Because Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Thailand 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 Thailand have determined that placement of the child within Thailand 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 Thailand:
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 Thailand 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 Thailand 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.
Thailand’s Central Adoption Authority
Child Adoption Center (CAC), Department of Children and Youth (DCY)
In addition, four non-governmental organizations are licensed to work with the CAC in cases where a child is to be placed abroad. Contact information for each organization is available in the “Contact Information” section.
Because Thailand is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Thailand 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 Thailand’s Central Authority] to Operate in Thailand
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
3. Apply to Thailand’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 Thailand or Obtain Legal Custody of the Child for Purposes of Emigration and Adoption
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 Thailand’s Central Authority to Operate in Thailand
The first step in adopting a child from Thailand 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 Thailand. 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
In order to adopt a child from Thailand, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Thailand 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 Thailand’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 Thailand as part of your adoption application. Thailand’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Thai law.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and Thailand determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Thailand’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 Thailand 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 Thailand 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 Thailand. Learn more about this critical decision.
Families must include in the dossier a plan of how they plan to care appropriately for a special needs child.
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 Bangkok responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Thailand.
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 Thailand’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Thailand if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform Thailand’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.
Warning: Do not attempt to adopt or obtain custody of a child in Thailand 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 Thailand 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 Thailand, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption or a grant of legal custody by Thailand for the purposes of emigration and adoption.
The process for finalizing the adoption or obtaining legal custody for purposes of emigration and adoption in Thailand 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:
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.
We encourage prospective adoptive parents to obtain detailed receipts for all fees and donations paid, either by them directly or through your U.S. adoption service provider, and to raise any concerns regarding any payment that you believe may be contrary to the Convention, U.S. law, or the law of Thailand, 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 Thailand 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 IAA makes 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 central 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.
Some of the fees specifically associated with adopting from Thailand include:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
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. The child’s Thai birth certificate can only be issued once. The DCY or the accredited ASP approaches the local district authority to issue the Thai birth certificate. This birth certificate will not be amended to change or add the child’s adoptive parents’ names to it during or after the adoption proceeding. Thailand does not issue a new birth certificate to the child post-adoption showing the adoptive parents’ names as the child’s parents either. Adoptive parents’ names will be recorded in the official Thai adoption registration paper. The child’s name can be amended post-adoption with the U.S. court process after Thai adoption process finalized
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Thailand.
An adopted child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so s/he will need a travel document (passport) in order to travel from Thailand. The orphanage will arrange for the issuance of this travel document with the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs and present it to the adoptive family before the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok.
The passport costs 35 USD and processing takes two business days if picking up in person or five business days for delivery. Obtaining the passport is part of the overall services provided by the ASP.
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 Bangkok. After the adoption or custody for purposes of emigration and adoption is granted, visit the U.S Embassy in Bangkok 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 Bangkok by email at email@example.com 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 3 business days after the via interview. 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 Bangkok 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 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 Thailand
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 Thailand, 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 or Consulate in Thailand, 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 Thailand, 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
Families must register their adoption under Thai Law within a period of six months after acknowledging the approval of finalization of such adoption notification. The registration can be carried out either at the respective Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate or at a District Office in Thailand. The adoption is then finalized under Thai Law. After this, the legalization of the adoption under the concerned law of the respective country shall be carried out, the outcomes of which shall be informed to DCY by the Competent Authority.
We urge you to comply with Thailand’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 Thailand’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. In addition, the Thai Central Authority also provides follow-up services for adoptive children who wish to inquire or search for background or family history by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. They provide services only for children who were adopted under the supervision of Department of Children and Youth (DCY) or previously under the Department of Social Development and Welfare (DSDW) (predecessor of DCY).
If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Bangkok, 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.
U.S. Embassy in Thailand
95 Wireless Road
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 205-4000
Fax: (66-2) 253-6250
Thailand’s Adoption Authority
Child Adoption Center (CAC)
Department of Children and Youth (DCY)
255 Baan Rajvithi
Rajvithi Home for Girls
Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 3068821, 02-3068801-09
Fax: (66 2) 354-7511
In addition, four non-governmental organizations are licensed to work with DCY's Child Adoption Center in cases where a child is to be placed abroad:
Holt Sahathai Foundation
850/33 Soi Sukhumvit 71
Sukhumvit Road, Wattana
Bangkok 10110, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 381-8834-6
Fax: (66-2) 381-8837
Thai Red Cross Foundation
King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital
Henri Dunant Road, Pathumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Tel: (66-2) 256-4178, (66-2) 256-4207 ext. 201
Fax: (66-2) 256-4277
The Pattaya Orphanage
P.O. Box 300
Pattaya Post Office, Pattaya City
Chonburi 20260, Thailand
Tel: (66-38) 423-468, (66-38) 416-426
Fax: (66-38) 416-425, (66-38) 716-204
Thailand also has consulates in: Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
Royal Thai Consulate-General, Chicago
700 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611-2504
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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