Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption > Country Information > Vietnam Intercountry Adoption Information
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Last Update: Reissued with updates to COVID-19 information.
Vietnam 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 Vietnam.
Effective December 31, 2020, intercountry adoptions from Vietnam will no longer be subject to the limited categories of children previously under the Special Adoption Program. U.S. prospective adoptive parents interested in adopting a child from Vietnam should contact one of the U.S. accredited adoption service providers authorized to operate in Vietnam by the Government of Vietnam for assistance.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Vietnam, 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 Vietnam must meet the following requirements imposed by Vietnam:
Because Vietnam is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Vietnam 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 Vietnam have determined that placement of the child within Vietnam has been given due consideration first 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 Vietnam:
Eligibility for adoption
Waiting Period or Foster Care: The Vietnamese requirement to conduct a search for eligible domestic prospective adoptive parents is waived for children with disabilities and serious medical conditions as defined in Vietnamese adoption law. Before a child without special needs can be considered for intercountry adoption, the Vietnamese government conducts a search for a prospective adoptive family in Vietnam.
Warning: Do not adopt or obtain legal custody of a child in Vietnam 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 Vietnam 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.
Vietnam’s Central Adoption Authority
Ministry of Justice, Department of Adoptions (MOJ/DA)
Because Vietnam is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Vietnam 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 Vietnam’s Central Authority to Operate in Vietnam, listed below.
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt (Form I-800A)
3. Apply to Vietnam’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 Vietnam
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 Vietnam’s Central Authority to Operate in Vietnam
The first step in adopting a child from Vietnam 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 has been authorized by the Government of Vietnam.
Vietnam’s Central Authority has authorized the following three U.S. adoption service providers to facilitate intercountry adoptions in Vietnam (listed in alphabetical order):
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 Vietnam, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Vietnam 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 Vietnam’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 Vietnam as part of your adoption application. Vietnam’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Vietnam’s law.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and Vietnam determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Vietnam’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 Vietnam 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.
NOTE: Effective December 31, 2020, intercountry adoptions from Vietnam to the United States will no longer be limited to children with special needs, children over five years old, and children in biological sibling groups. The waiting period to receive a referral for a child determined eligible by Vietnamese authorities for intercountry adoption under the special needs category is generally shorter than that for other children.
Along with the referral, the adoption authority in Vietnam will provide a basic 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 decision to the Central Authority in Vietnam. Learn more about this critical decision.
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 Hanoi responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Vietnam.
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, advise you of options for the waiver of any ineligibilities related to the visa application.
The consular officer in the U.S. Embassy Hanoi will review the adoption casefiles to issue a letter (referred to as an “Article 5/17 Letter”) to Vietnam’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Vietnam, if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Vietnam’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 Vietnam 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 Vietnam
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Vietnam, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps you can proceed to finalize the adoption.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Vietnam generally includes the following:
Role of Central Authority:
Role of the Court: Vietnam’s courts do not issue Adoption Decrees in Vietnamese Convention adoptions. The Vietnamese courts have no role in intercountry adoptions.
Role of Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Providers: The accredited and authorized U.S. adoption service provider facilitates the adoption on behalf of the prospective adoptive parents, including assembling the application dossier for submission to MOJ/DA, providing logistical support for prospective adoptive parents and their adopted child(ren), and providing post-adoption reports to MOJ/DA. After MOJ/DA issues an official referral letter, adoption service providers, if permitted, may perform an assessment on the child, including their medical condition, so that prospective adoptive parents can make an informed decision about the adoption.
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:
Adoption Fees: 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. On average, the estimated cost to complete one adoption case approximately ranges from $35,000 to $42,000, not including passport or visa fees.
Other fees associated with adopting from Vietnam may include:
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 Vietnam, 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 Vietnam 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.
Documents Required: The prospective adoptive parent(s) are required to submit to the MOJ/DA the following documents in the application dossier:
Note: Additional documents may be requested by the MOJ/DA. Prospective adoptive parents are required to prepare two identical sets of application dossiers. All documents must be translated and authenticated by the Vietnamese Embassy or one of the Vietnamese consulates in the United States.
Note: Any documents pertaining to adoption applications submitted to the Vietnamese authorities must be notarized and authenticated by the Vietnamese Embassy or Consulate in the United States and translated into Vietnamese. All documents submitted to the U.S. government must be translated into English.
6. Apply for a U.S. Immigrant Visa for Your Child and Bring Your Child Home
Once your adoption is complete, 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.
You will receive the child’s original birth certificate after the “Giving and Receiving” ceremony so that you can use it to apply for a Vietnamese passport for your child. Vietnam does not issue a new or amended birth certificate to the child post-adoption indicating the adoptive parents’ name(s) as the child’s parent(s) and/or any change to the child’s name made during the adoption proceeding.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Vietnam.
The adoption service provider should assist adoptive parents with obtaining a Vietnamese passport for the adopted child. Passport applications are submitted to the Ministry of Public Security, Department of Immigration in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City. Applications should include the following:
Passport applications may be submitted at one of the following offices of the Department of Immigration:
44-46 Tran Phu Street
Ba Dinh District, Hanoi
Ho Chi Minh City Office
333-337 Nguyen Trai Street
District 1, Ho Chi Minh City
The passport application fee is 200,000 VND per passport (approximately $9 as of November 2020). The regular processing timeframe is five working days.].
U.S. Immigrant Visa
After you obtain the birth certificate and Vietnamese passport for your child, you need to submit your child’s immigrant visa application at the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi. After the adoption is granted, visit the U.S. Embassy for a final review of the case, and, if applicable, the issuance of a U.S. Hague Adoption 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 with you and to seek admission to the United States. As part of this process, the child must complete the medical examinations with the assigned Panel Physician before the visa interview. For more information on scheduling the immigrant visa appointment and medical examination, please visit the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi website.
If the consular officer determines that the child is eligible for a visa, visa issuance after the final interview generally takes 24 hours. It is usually possible to provide a 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 Hanoi 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 Vietnam
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 Vietnam, 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 Vietnam, 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 Vietnam, 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
We urge you to comply with Vietnam’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption service provider may be able to help you with this process. Your cooperation will contribute to Vietnam’s positive experiences with U.S. citizen adoptive parents.
Adoptive parents are responsible for providing post-adoption reports to both the MOJ/DA and a Vietnamese diplomatic mission in the country where the adopted child resides every six months for three consecutive years following the adoption. The report should provide information about the child’s health status, physical and psychological development, and how he or she is integrating with the adoptive family and new environment. We urge you to comply with Vietnam’s post-adoption requirements in a timely manner. Your adoption agency may be able to help you with this process.
In order to submit post-adoption reports, adoptive parents must fill out the “Child development report form,” which is available through your adoption service provider or from Vietnam’s Ministry of Justice. The form must then be certified by a competent home study preparer and authenticated by a Vietnamese diplomatic mission in the United States.
Under Vietnamese law, adoption service providers are responsible for reminding adoptive parents to submit post-adoption reports. Adoption service providers must also provide the MOJ/DA with a separate annual report summarizing the development of all Vietnamese children who have been adopted through their organization. In addition, adoption service providers must also provide a report on specific cases at the request of the MOJ/DA.
MOJ/DA also requires adoptive parents to disclose to their ASP any humanitarian donations to the orphanage in Vietnam. At least every six months, ASPs must report to MOJ/DA the humanitarian donations given by both the adoptive parents and their organizations.
Many adoptive parents find it important to receive 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 U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, 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.
Vietnam’s Central Authority
Ministry of Justice
Department of Adoptions
58-60 Tran Phu Street
Tel: 84-24-6273 9697
Fax: 84-24-6273 9359
Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
1233 20th Street, N.W. Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036
Tel: (202) 861-2293 or (202) 861-0694
Fax: (202) 861-0917
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
For questions about a pending 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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