Exercise normal precautions in Tonga.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Tonga:
Tonga is not party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption ( Hague Adoption Convention ). Therefore, when the Hague Adoption Convention entered into force for the United States on April 1, 2008, intercountry adoption processing for Tonga did not change.
Tongan law states that prospective adopting parents must reside with the child for period of at least six months prior to the application for adoption of that child. In addition, under Tongan law, only illegitimate children may be adopted.
The Tongan Government is proposing to pass a Dual Nationality Law in the near future. It is unclear, however, what this law may contain or how it may affect adoptions of Tongan children. The Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji (which handles Tongan immigration issues on behalf of the U.S. Government) will monitor the progress of any such legislation and update this flyer accordingly.
To bring an adopted child to United States from Tonga, you must be found eligible to adopt by the U.S. Government. The U.S. Government agency responsible for making this determination is the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn more.
In addition to these U.S. requirements for prospective adoptive parents, Tonga also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
Tonga has specific requirements that a child must meet in order to be eligible for adoption. You cannot adopt a child in Tonga unless he or she meets the requirements outlined below.
In addition to these requirements, a child must meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law for you to bring him or her back to the United States. Learn more about these U.S. requirements.
The Supreme Court of the Kingdom of Tonga is the adoption authority.
The process for adopting a child from Tonga generally includes the following steps:
Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
To bring an adopted child from Tonga to the United States, you must apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-600A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
In addition to meeting the U.S. requirements for adoptive parents, you need to meet the requirements of Tonga as described in the Who Can Adopt section.
Be Matched with a Child
Prospective adoptive parents have the responsibility of identifying the child themselves and then lodge an application for adoption letters with the central authority. The central authority does not assist in identifying a child for adoption.
Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of a particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child. .
The child must be eligible to be adopted according to Tonga requirements, as described in the Who Can be Adopted section. The child must also meet the definition of an orphan under U.S. law. Learn more.
Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Tonga
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Tonga generally includes the following:
NOTE: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
After you finalize the adoption (or gain legal custody) in Tonga, the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) MUST determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted (Form I-600). Learn how.
You will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child, so that you can later apply for a passport. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Tonga.
Current Tongan law places restrictions on the issuance of Tongan passports to Tongan children adopted by foreigners. The children may obtain Tongan passports, but only in their birth (rather than adoptive) names. It is advisable that applicants for letters of adoption that their prospective adoptive child already has a Tongan passport before the adoption order has been granted. American prospective adoptive parents do not have legal standing to apply for a Tongan passport for a minor child. The biological parent or a Tongan legal guardian must consent to the passport application. Tongan law clearly states, "The adopted person shall bear the name of and be deemed to be of the same nationality as the person to whom Letters of Adoption have been granted by the Court."
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the new birth certificate and passport for your child, you also need to apply for an U.S. visa from the United States Embassy for your child. After the adoption (or custody for purpose of adoption) is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for final review and approval of the child's I-600 petition and to obtain a visa for the child. This immigrant visa allows your child to travel home with you. As part of this process, the Consular Officer must be provided the "Panel Physician's" medical report on the child if it was not provided during the provisional approval stage. Learn more.
Once the U.S. Embassy in Suva receives evidence that the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) division has approved the prospective adoptive parents' Form I-600 (or I-600A), the Embassy will contact the parents to initiate the child's visa application process. It is then the prospective adoptive parents' responsibility to keep in touch via one of the contact methods listed above (phone, fax, e-mail, etc.).
NOTE: The U.S. Embassy in Suva cannot issue visas on the same day. The minimum turnaround time is two working days, depending on the completeness of the application package and accompanying documentation.
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your new child to acquire American citizenship automatically when the court in the United States issues the final adoption decree.
* Please be aware that if your child did not qualify to become a citizen upon entry to the United States, it is very important that you take the steps necessary so that your child does qualify as soon as possible. Failure to obtain citizenship for your child can impact many areas of his/her life including family travel, eligibility for education and education grants, and voting.
Learn more about the Child Citizenship Act.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Tonga. 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.
In addition to a U.S. passport, you also need to obtain a visa. A visa is an official document issued by a foreign country that formally allows you to visit. Where required, visas are attached to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation.
To find information about obtaining a visa for Tonga, see the Department of State's Country Specific Information.
Before you travel, it's always a good practice to investigate the local conditions, laws, political landscape, and culture of the country. The State Department is a good place to start.
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 register your trip with the Department of State. Travel registration makes it possible to contact you if necessary. Whether there's a family emergency in the United States, or a crisis in Tonga registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Tonga require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Tonga and complete all post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to that country's history of positive experiences with American parents.
What resources are available to assist families after the adoption?
Many adoptive parents find it important to find support after the adoption. Take advantage of all the resources available to your family -- whether it's another adoptive family, a support group, an advocacy organization, or your religious or community services.
Here are some good places to start your support group search:
Note: Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.
U.S. Embassy in Tonga
The U.S. Embassy that has jurisdiction over the Kingdom of Tonga is located in Suva, Fiji. The Consular Section is located at:
Embassy of the United States
31 Loftus Street
P.O. Box 21
Tel: (679) 331-4466
Fax: (679) 330-2267
Recorded Information: (679) 330-3888
Tongan Adoption Authority
P. O. Box 11
Tel: (676) 23599
Embassy of Tonga
Embassy of the Kingdom of Tonga
250 East 51st Street,
New York, NY 10022
Tel: (917) 369-1136
Fax: (917) 369-1024
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about immigration procedures, call the National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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