Exercise increased caution in Ukraine due to crime and civil unrest. Some areas have increased risk. Read the entire Travel Advisory.
Do not travel to Crimea due to:
-foreign occupation and abuses by occupation authorities
-the eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, especially the non-government controlled areas, due to armed conflict.
Crime targeting foreigners and property is common. Demonstrations, which have turned violent at times, regularly occur throughout Ukraine, including in Kyiv. Politically targeted assassinations and bombings have also occurred.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits U.S. civil aviation from flying in the Ukrainian Simferopol (UKFV) and Dnipropetrovsk (UKDV) Flight Information Regions. For more information U.S. citizens should consult the Federal Aviation Administration’s Prohibitions, Restrictions and Notices.
Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.
If you decide to travel to Ukraine:
There is extensive Russian Federation military presence in Crimea as part of Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of this part of Ukraine, which the international community, including the United States and Ukraine, does not recognize. There are continuing abuses against and arbitrary imprisonment of foreigners and the local population by the occupation authorities in Crimea, particularly abuses against individuals who are seen as challenging Russian authority on the peninsula.
The U.S. government is unable to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens traveling in Crimea as U.S. government employees are prohibited from traveling to Crimea.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Donetsk and Luhansk
Russia-led forces continue to control areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts, where the ongoing armed conflict has resulted in over 10,000 deaths. Individuals, including U.S. citizens, have been threatened, detained, or kidnapped for hours or days after being stopped at checkpoints controlled by Russia-led forces.
The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens traveling in Donetsk or Luhansk since U.S. government employees are restricted from traveling to the eastern parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts and to adjacent regions.
Visit our website for Travel to High-Risk Areas.
Ukraine 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.
Note: As of December 1, 2008, Ukraine’s Adoption Authority, the Department for Adoptions and Protection of Rights of the Child (DAPRC), reviews the prospective adoptive parents’ homestudy to decide whether to match the prospective adoptive parents with a child listed on the central database of Ukrainian children eligible for intercountry adoption. If the prospective adoptive parents’ homestudy does not specifically conclude that the prospective adoptive parents are recommended to adopt a child with the characteristics listed in the central database, DAPRC may refuse the prospective adoptive parents’ dossier. Given that there are not usually children under the age of six with minor or correctable health problems available for intercountry adoption in Ukraine, it is very likely that DAPRC will refuse to accept and register your dossier if your homestudy indicates that you are only eligible to adopt a child under six years old with a minor/correctable health problem.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Ukraine, 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 Ukraine 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 Ukraine:
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).
Furthermore in Ukraine, several charitable organizations run hosting programs in which children who reside in orphanages or children’s homes travel to the United States for short-term stays with host families. Hosting families should be aware that while many of the children who are selected for these programs are eligible for intercountry adoption, many of them are not eligible. Children who entered the United States with a non-immigrant visa cannot generally qualify as an orphan under U.S. immigration law and Ukrainian law prohibits the adoption of Ukrainian children outside of Ukraine. Failure to return the hosted child to Ukraine by the end date annotated on the visa may place all hosting programs at risk of suspension by Ukrainian and/or U.S. authorities.
Ukraine’s Adoption Authority
The Department for Adoptions and Protection of Rights of the Child (DAPRC), Ministry for Social Policy of Ukraine
The process for adopting a child from Ukraine 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 Ukraine’s Authorities to Adopt, and to be Matched with a Child
4. Adopt the Child in Ukraine
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan (Form I-600)
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 Ukraine, 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 Ukraine, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Ukraine 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 revieiwing 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 Ukraine’s Authorities to Adopt, and be Matched with a Child
If you are found suitable and eligible to adopt under U.S. immigration law, Ukraine requires you to submit an adoption application to the adoption authority of Ukraine to be found eligible to adopt by Ukraine.
You can file an adoption application with the Ministry for Social Policy by accessing the application from the following link: http://www.msp.gov.ua/content/usinovlennya.html (in Ukrainian). Adoption applications must be submitted to the Ministry for Social Policy in paper version as a part of the adoption dossier with all the necessary stamps, signatures, and apostilles.
The competent adoption authority or other authorized entity (DAPRC) in Ukraine 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 Ukraine’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 Ukraine
The process for finalizing the adoption in Ukraine generally includes the following:
Note: Although DAPRC maintains both databases and works with families to find a match, they require prospective adoptive parents to determine for themselves whether they are able to meet the needs of the particular child.
Adoption service means any one of the following six services:
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 Ukraine, with your adoption service provider, and, when appropriate, through the Complaint Registry. Improper payments may violate applicable law, or create the appearance of buying a child, and could put all future adoptions in Ukraine 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. Ukraine also requires translation of all documents into Ukranian.
Hague Apostille: The United States and Ukraine are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
5. Apply for Your Child to be Found Eligible to Immigrate to the United States as an Orphan
After you finalize the adoption in Ukraine, 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. 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 Kyiv, Ukraine 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 adjudicated by an international USCIS office, USCIS generally completes the Form I-604 determination.
When a Form I-600 petition is filed with the Embassy’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 approximately one week 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 new Ukranian birth certificate for your child once you have finalized the adoption in Ukraine. The new birth certificate will contain your names as the adoptive parents.
You should apply for a new birth certificate at the local civil registrar’s office (RAGS), by filing the adoption court decree and the child’s previous birth certificate. You must wait until your adoption court decree takes effect (30 calendar days after your court date). There is a small official fee of about $10 USD to apply for a birth certificate and the process normally takes two-three business days.
If your adopted child is 14 or older, you will also need to apply for a new internal ID card through the local city/village administration. This process will take an additional one to two weeks.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a passport from Ukraine. If you have not changed your child’s name through adoption, your child may use a previously issued Ukrainian passport and obtain a special stamp from the regional passport office (PMZh stamp) showing your child can immigrate to the U.S. If your child’s name/last name has been changed through adoption, you will need to apply for a new passport before obtaining the PMZh stamp.
You can apply for a Ukrainian passport for your child at the local passport office (VVIR) as soon as you receive a new birth certificate. An official passport application fee is $45-50 USD. This process may take up to ten business days, but could take longer.
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 Kyiv. 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.
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 Kyiv 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.
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 Ukraine
In addition to a U.S. passport, you may also need to obtain a visa to travel to Ukraine. Where required, visas are affixed to your passport and allow you to enter a foreign nation. To find information about obtaining a visa for Ukraine, see the Department of State’s country pages.
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 Ukraine 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 Ukraine, 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 Reporting Requirements: You should register your adopted child with the Embassy or Consulate of Ukraine following the process described at the Embassy of Ukraine’s website at: http://usa.mfa.gov.ua/en/consular-affairs/services/accounting/adoption. Ukrainian law requires that adoptive parents provide post-adoption reports to the Consular Office of the Embassy of Ukraine annually, during the first three years following the adoption and then once every three years thereafter, until the child's 18th birthday. Post-adoption reports should contain detailed information about your child/children's development and photos of your family. The annual report form is available at the link above.
We urge you to comply with Ukraine’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 Ukraine’s positive experience of intercountry adoption.
Note: Please remember that your child remains a Ukrainan citizen until the age of 18 years old. At that time, he/she can decide to officially renounce his/her Ukrainian citizenship or renew his/her Ukrainian passport. The U.S. allows for dual citizenship, but you must enter and exit the United Sates using a U.S. passport. If your child should re-enter Ukraine at any point while in possession of dual citizenship, she/he may be required to present their Ukrainian passport, and may be subject to the laws of Ukraine the same as any other citizen. Possession of a U.S. passport may not invalidate the equal citizenship claims of the birth country. This may be of more immediate concern when the child reaches the age of military conscription in the country of origin.
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 adoptions.
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 Kyiv, 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.
Ukraine’s Adoption Authority
Department for Adoptions and Protection of the Rights of a Child
Ministry for Social Policy of Ukraine
8/10 Esplanadna Street, Kyiv 01601 Ukraine
Tel: (380)(44) 289-5539/5262
Embassy of Ukraine
3350 M Street, NW Washington, D.C. 20007
Ukraine also has consulates in: New York, Chicago, and San Francisco
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 questions about filing a Form I-600A application or a Form I-600 petition with a USCIS international field office:
Please visit http://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-immigration-offices and select the appropriate office.
For general questions about immigration procedures:
USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC)
Tel: 1-800-375-5283 (TTY 1-800-767-1833)
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