Travel.State.Gov > Intercountry Adoption News and Notices > Armenia: Meeting with Armenian Central Authority and Clarification of Armenian Law on Restoration of Birth Parent Rights
The Office of Children’s Issues (CI) met recently with the Armenian Central Authority (ACA) to discuss the future of intercountry adoption between the United States and Armenia, including a recent situation in which an Armenian court restored a birth parent’s rights after the children were matched with a U.S. citizen prospective adoptive parent. The Office of Children’s Issues recognizes the Armenian court’s authority and supports its implementation of the Convention’s subsidiarity principle when it is in the best interests of children. The purpose of the meeting was to seek a full understanding of Armenian laws and procedures to make sure U.S. adoption service providers (ASPs) and U.S. prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) are fully informed of the process.
The Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Armenia is responsible for matching and providing prospective adoptive families with a referral for an Armenian child. However, prospective adoptive parents should consider any referral for an Armenian child to be preliminary until the adoption is finalized. As stated by ACA and in accordance with the Family Code of the Republic of Armenia, a birth parent can seek restoration of their parental rights at any point during the adoption process until an adoption decision is finalized in court. If the adoption is finalized, a birth parent may exercise their right to appeal the decision within a 30-day period. However, the judge can, at their discretion, apply an exception to waive the 30-day appeal process to expedite the final adoption decision in the best interests of a child. If the birth parent’s rights are restored while the adoption process is still ongoing, PAPs also have 30 days to appeal the court’s decision.
The Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs of the Republic of Armenia oversees restoration of parental rights and is responsible for sharing the information with ACA, which in turn shares it with the foreign supervised provider working on behalf of the ASP. Since ACA is not directly involved in the process, there can be a delay with sharing the information about the court’s decision with the prospective adoptive parents. Therefore, foreign supervised providers and adoption service providers are responsible for monitoring the case closely during the entire adoption process to make sure prospective adoptive parents receive updates in a timely manner.
Please note this information is not intended to discourage families from adopting from Armenia. We want prospective adoptive families to understand what may occur given recent cases from Armenia. Prospective adoptive parents who have additional questions, should consult with their ASP.
Please continue to monitor adoption.state.gov for updated information on intercountry adoption in Armenia.
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Armenia 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 Armenia.
To bring an adopted child to the United States from Armenia, 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 Armenia must meet the following requirements imposed by Armenia:
Because Armenia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, children from Armenia 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 Armenia have determined that placement of the child within Armenia 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 Armenia:
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).
Because Armenia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adoptions from Armenia must follow a specific process designed to meet the Convention’s requirements. A 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
The first step in adopting a child from Armenia 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. 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:
2. Apply to USCIS to be Found Suitable and Eligible to Adopt
To adopt a child from Armenia, you will need to meet the requirements of the Government of Armenia 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 Armenia’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 Armenia as part of your adoption application. Armenia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also suitable and eligible to adopt under Armenia’s law.
Receive a Referral for a Child from the Central Authority
If both the United States and Armenia determine that you are suitable and eligible to adopt, and Armenia’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 Armenia 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 Armenia 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 ConsiderationsHealth Considerations. If you accept the referral, the adoption service provider communicates that to the Central Authority in Armenia. 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 Yerevan responsible for issuing immigrant visas to children from Armenia.
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 Armenia’s Central Authority in any intercountry adoption involving U.S. citizen parents and a child from Armenia if all Convention requirements are met and the child appears eligible to immigrate to the United States. This letter will inform the Armenia’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 a child in Armenia 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 Armenia
Remember: Before you adopt a child in Armenia, you must have completed the above four steps. Only after completing these steps can you proceed to finalize the adoption.
The process for finalizing the adoption in Armenia generally includes the following:
Role of Adoption Authority: The Central Authority in Armenia reviews the applications for registration in Armenia as prospective adoptive parents. The Central Authority is also responsible for matching a child with the prospective adoptive parents. Once a specific child has been identified for the prospective adoptive parents by the Central Authority and the prospective adoptive parents accept the match, the Central Authority conducts several reviews of the case in conjunction with various departments within the Armenian government. Following this review, the Armenian government may issue a permit for the adoption to proceed. Lastly, the Central Authority issues an intercountry adoption certificate after the adoption is finalized in court and registers the adoption in the Civil Status Acts Registration office.
Role of the Court: Once the prospective adoptive parents accept the match and the government review process is complete, prospective adoptive parents apply to the court and a hearing date is set. During the hearing, the judge makes decisions on any requests to change the child’s name or date of birth. After the hearing, the court will issue a preliminary decision, and 30 days later the final court decision is registered. Prospective adoptive parents and the child (if ten years of age or more) must be present during the court proceedings.
Role of Accredited or Approved Adoption Service Providers: Armenian law does not recognize adoption agencies, professional adoption facilitators, or attorneys in the adoption process. It does allow prospective adoptive parents to grant power of attorney to an individual to handle most aspects of the adoption process on their behalf, and therefore U.S. adoption service providers may help prospective adoptive parents throughout the adoption process by obtaining their power of attorney. Services that the accredited or approved adoption service providers may provide include translating and submitting paperwork and providing information.
Unless a public domestic authority is providing all adoption services, 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 Application: To register as a prospective adoptive parent, applicants should apply to Armenia’s Central Authority, which can be submitted to Armenia’s Central Authority through the accredited or approved adoption service provider that has a power of attorney for the prospective adoptive parents. The application form is not available online but can be obtained by contacting Armenia’s Central Authority at the email address provided in the “contact information” section below or may be obtained from the U.S. accredited services.
Time Frame: Intercountry adoption in Armenia may take approximately one to two years to complete. The Central Authority takes about two months to review applications for candidates to be registered as prospective adoptive parents in Armenia. Once the prospective adoptive parents are registered, the timing for matching a child with an eligible child is unpredictable. If there is no child available that meets the prospective adoptive parents’ specified criteria, the Central Authority will not match the parents with a child. Once the parents have accepted a child proposed for matching and communicated this to the Central Authority, the various government reviews take an additional two months to complete. The court process takes another two to three months. If a court decision needs to be reviewed by the Court of Appeals, this step can require additional time.
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 Armenia, 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 Armenia 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.
The following documents must be submitted to the regional court presiding over the child’s district to finalize the adoption in Armenia:
Note: Additional documents may be requested.
Authentication of Documents: The United States and Armenia are parties to the Hague Apostille Convention. U.S. public documents may be authenticated with Apostilles by the appropriate U.S. Competent Authority.
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.
If you have finalized the adoption in Armenia, you will first need to apply for a new birth certificate for your child. Your name will be added to the new birth certificate.
To obtain a birth certificate for the child with a new name and other information, the adoptive parent(s) must apply to either the Civil Status Acts Registration office in the place of the child’s birth, and/or at Civil Status Acts Registration office of the Erebuni district, near the capital Yerevan, which specializes in processing birth certificates in intercountry adoptions. The adopting parent must apply in person. It is not possible to apply online.
The following documents are required to obtain a new birth certificate for the child:
1. A written statement; (the sample form may be obtained from the website of the Ministry of Justice of Republic of Armenia, office of Civil Status Acts Registration (CSAR) here); The application will be completed by an employee of the CSAR through an electronic system and given to the applicant to be signed. Preliminary completed hard copy of the application is not acceptable as it is subject to a mandatory submission through the electronic system.
The birth registration takes a maximum of two days from submission of the application to the Civil Status Acts Registration Agency. No fee is charged for the registration of a birth, including the issuance of a certificate.
The adoption certificate will be provided to the child along with the new birth certificate.
After receiving the Birth and the Adoption Certificates, the prospective adoptive parents may apply to the Central Authority to receive the Intercountry Adoption certificate. The adopted child’s passport, court decision, child’s birth and adoption certificates are required to file the application.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or passport from Armenia.
Parents must visit the Armenian passport agency OVIR (located at Davtashen, 4th District, 17/10 Building) to apply for an Armenian passport for the child. The agency charges 1,000 AMD for passport issuance, plus an additional 1,000 AMD a one-year exit stamp. Regular passport processing time is up to five working days. Expedited issuance of a passport within one or two days costs up to 20,000 AMD.
The child must have a passport before the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.
In addition, the adoptive parents must visit the Notarial Office of the Ministry of Justice to get the court decree, adoption certificate, and birth certificate certified with an apostille. The apostille is required to depart Armenia.
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 Yerevan. 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 home with you and be admitted to the United States as your child. Please contact the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan by email at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 process here.
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 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 Yerevan before making final travel arrangements. There are no specific day/times for parents to pick up their child’s visa. Parents are notified to come to the U.S. Embassy when the visa is ready during working hours.
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 Armenia
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 Armenia, 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 Armenia, 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 Armenia, 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
Armenia requires parents to report annually to the authorities for five years from the date of the adoption (based on the adoption certificate). The Armenian Central Authority will provide details of the reporting requirements during the adoption processing.
We urge you to comply with Armenia’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 Armenia’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.
If you have concerns about your intercountry adoption process, we ask that you share this information with the Embassy in Yerevan, 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 Armenia
Address: 1 American Avenue
Yerevan 0082, Republic of Armenia
Email: email@example.com; Iranivyerevan@state.gov
Armenia’s Adoption Authority
Address: Ministry of Justice, Republic of Armenia
3/8 Vazgen Sargsyan Street
Yerevan, Armenia 0010
Tel: +374-10-594-161; +374-10-426-066
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
Armenia also has a consulate in: Los Angeles, California.
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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