Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Uruguay Intercountry Adoption Information
Last Update: Reissued with updates to health information.
Exercise increased caution in Uruguay due to crime.
Country Summary: Violent crimes, such as homicides, armed robberies, car jackings, and thefts occur throughout the country and in urban areas frequented by U.S. government personnel, day and night. Criminals commonly travel in pairs on motorcycles to approach unsuspecting victims with a weapon and demand personal belongings. Armed criminals also target grocery stores, restaurants, financial centers, and small businesses, in which innocent bystanders are often victimized.
Read the country information page for additional information on travel to Uruguay.
If you decide to travel to Uruguay:
Uruguay is party to the Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption (Hague Adoption Convention). Therefore all adoptions between Uruguay and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
While intercountry adoptions are legal in Uruguay, Uruguayan law explicitly favors local adoptions over intercountry adoptions. Prospective adoptive parents must live in Uruguay with the child they plan to adopt for a minimum of six months. A judge may reduce this time requirement on a case-by-case basis if he/she believes it is in the best interests of the child.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Uruguay, 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.
Adoption between the United States and Uruguay is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Uruguay, you must first 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, Uruguay also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
Because Uruguay is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Uruguay must meet the requirements of the Convention in order to be eligible for adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Uruguay attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Uruguay's requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Waiting Period DLAYA staff members make the final decision concerning the applicants' eligibility to adopt a child. Once approved, the couple is added to the waiting list. The length of the evaluation process varies according to staff availability. The average waiting time to complete an adoption from start to finish is four years.
Departamento de Adopción y Legitimación Adoptiva (DLAYA or Department of Adoption and Legitimating of Adoptions
Because Uruguay is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Uruguay 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.
NOTE: If you filed your I-600a with Uruguay before April 1, 2008, the Hague Adoption Convention may not apply to your adoption. Your adoption could continue to be processed in accordance with the immigration regulations for non-Convention adoptions. Learn more.
After you choose an accredited adoption service provider, you apply to be found eligible to adopt (Form I-800A) by the U.S. Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Learn how.
Once the U.S. government determines that you are "eligible" and "suitable" to adopt, you or your agency will forward your information to the adoption authority in Uruguay. Uruguay's adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Uruguay's law.
If both the United States and Uruguay determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Uruguay may provide you with a referral for a child. Each family must decide for itself whether or not it will be able to meet the needs of the particular child and provide a permanent family placement for the referred child.
After you accept a match with a child, you will apply to the U.S Government, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for provisional approval to adopt that particular child (Form I-800). USCIS will determine whether the child is eligible under U.S. law to be adopted and enter the United States. Learn how.
After this, your adoption service provider or you will submit a visa application for to a Consular Officer at the U.S. Embassy. The Consular Officer will review the child's information and evaluate the child for possible visa ineligibilities. If the Consular Office determines that the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States, he/she will notify the Uruguay's adoption authority (Article 5 letter). For Convention country adoptions, prospective adoptive parent(s) may not proceed with the adoption or obtain custody for the purpose of adoption until this takes place.
Remember: The Consular Officer will make a final decision about the immigrant visa later in the adoption process.
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Uruguay, 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 Uruguay.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Uruguay generally includes the following:
ROLE OF THE ADOPTION AUTHORITY: Adoptions through DLAYA and the Movimiento Familiar Cristiano follow a similar process with an initial interview with the prospective adoptive parent that is used to explain the adoption process, the documents required, the legal aspects and expectations. After the prospective adoptive parents submit the required documentation, an evaluation process begins through group activities and personal interviews with psychologists and social workers of DLAYA, including a home study.
Once a child is assigned to a couple, a one-year period of legal custody (guardianship) begins. During this period, INAU periodically monitors the family to ensure the welfare of the child. Biological parents can claim the child during this period. Any such claim must be made through DLAYA and a judge is assigned to protect the privacy of the foster family. The four years listed above refer to the entire waiting period starting from the time prospective adoptive parents are first registered and a child is selected. Then, another year during legal custody and/or co-residency, which can be reduced to 6 months
ROLE OF THE COURT: Once the parental rights of the birth parents are terminated, the child has completed a one-year period of legal custody (guardianship) with the prospective adoptive parents, and INAU has submitted a recommendation for approval, a judge will finalize the adoption process by awarding all legal rights regarding the child to the adoptive parents.
Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help.
NOTE: Prospective adoptive parents of Uruguayan children should not consider the above list to be comprehensive or exhaustive. Since intercountry adoptions are not typical, prospective adoptive parents should contact DLAYA for further inquiries on documentary requirements.
Bring Your Child Home Now that your adoption is complete (or you have obtained legal custody of the child), there are a few more steps to take before you can head home. Specifically, you need to apply for three documents for your child before he or she can travel to the United States:
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 Uruguay.
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-800 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.
Once the adoption process is complete and the adoptive parents are in possession of all the required documents (listed below), they should contact the U.S. Embassy's Consular Section Immigrant Visa Unit to schedule a visa interview appointment. Phone (598-2) 418 7777 #2388 or e-mail to: MontevideoIV@state.gov.
In general, the following original documents are required to process an immigrant visa for adoption cases:
Additional Documents: Since each case is different, it is possible that the consular officer may require additional documents after a preliminary review of the application of the prospective adoptive parent(s).
Note: Visa issuance after the final interview now generally takes at least 24 hours and it will not normally be possible to provide the visa to adoptive parents on the day of the interview. Adoptive parents should verify current processing times at the appropriate consulate or embassy before making final travel arrangements.
For adoptions finalized abroad: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to acquire American citizenship when he or she enters the United States as lawful permanent residents.
For adoptions to be finalized in the United States: The Child Citizenship Act of 2000 allows your child to typically acquire American citizenship when the U.S. state court issues the final adoption decree. We urge your family to finalize the adoption in a U.S. State court as quickly as possible.
*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.
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Uruguay. 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 Uruguay, 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 Uruguay, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Uruguay require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
We strongly urge you to comply with the wish of Uruguay 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 Uruguay
Lauro Muller 1776
Tel. (598-2) 418-7777 Ext. 2365
Fax (598-2) 418-4110
Uruguay's' Adoption Authority
Rio Branco 1394
Tel: (598 2) 908-3219
Embassy of Uruguay
1913 I (Eye) Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Tel. (202) 331-1313
Fax (202) 331-8142
*COUNTRY also has consulates in: Chicago, IL; Coral Gables, FL; New York, NY; Santa Monica, CA; and San Juan, Puerto Rico
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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