Armenia 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 Armenia and the United States must meet the requirements of the Convention and U.S. law implementing the Convention.
Note: Special transition provisions apply to adoptions initiated before April 1, 2008. Learn more.
WHO CAN ADOPT
Adoption between the United States and Armenia is governed by the Hague Adoption Convention. Therefore to adopt from Armenia, 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, Armenia also has the following requirements for prospective adoptive parents:
- Residency Requirements: Prospective adoptive parents do not have to fulfill any residency requirements to adopt in Armenia.
- Age Requirements: Single prospective adoptive parents must be at least 18 years older than the adopted child.
- Marriage Requirements: Both single individuals and married couples are eligible to adopt.
WHO CAN BE ADOPTED
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 adoption. For example, the Convention requires that Armenia attempt to place a child with a family in-country before determining that a child is eligible for intercountry adoption. In addition to Armenia’s requirements, a child must meet the definition of a Convention adoptee for you to bring him or her back to the United States.
Learn more about the Convention’s requirements for adoptable children.
ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS: There are many children living in orphanages, however, ONLY those children whose parents have died, disappeared, or signed a statement of relinquishment of their parental rights, and whose families do not visit them, thus abandoning them, are available for adoption. In addition, consent for child adoption can only be given after the birth of the child.
- Reliquishment Requirements: If biological parents are alive, the biological parents must sign a statement of relinquishment in order for a child to be eligible for adoption.
- Age Requirements: A child’s name must be listed on the national registry list for three months before he or she is declared available for intercountry adoption. For this reason, it is impossible to adopt a very young infant from Armenia.
- Waiting Period: The names of children available for adoption are listed by the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues. A child’s name must remain on the list for three months before he/she is declared available for intercountry adoption.
HOW TO ADOPT
Armenia’s Adoption Authority
National Adoption Committee of the Republic of Armenia
Because Armenia is party to the Hague Adoption Convention, adopting from Armenia 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 Armenia 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.
1. Choose an Accredited Adoption Service Provider
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
3. Be Matched with a Child
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Immigration to the United States
5. Adopt the Child in Armenia
6. Bring your Child Home
1.Choose an Accredited Adoption Service 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. Only these agencies and attorneys can provide adoption services between the United States and Armenia. Learn more.
Please note that Armenian law does not recognize the involvement of professional facilitators, adoption agencies or attorneys; it allows the prospective parents to grant power of attorney to an individual to handle most aspects of the adoption process on their behalf. Some U.S. adoption agencies have contacts with experienced local individuals who can be given power of attorney. In many cases, prospective parents grant this power of attorney to individuals whom they trust, relatives, friends or acquaintances.
2. Apply to be Found Eligible to Adopt
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 Armenia. Armenia’s adoption authority will review your application to determine whether you are also eligible to adopt under Armenia’s law.
The National Adoption Committee has one month in which to conduct a study and issue a conclusion on the ability to adopt. That conclusion is valid for one year. Once the National Adoption Committee grants the permission to adopt, the adoptive parents may identify a child, from the children eligible for inter-country adoption listed in the registry kept by the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues.
3. Be Matched with a Child
If both the United States and Armenia determine that you are eligible to adopt, and a child is available for intercountry adoption, the central adoption authority in Armenia 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. Learn more about this critical decision. In Armenia, the adoptive parents identify a child from the children eligible for inter-country adoption listed in the registry kept by the Ministry of Labor and Social Issues. The prospective parents or their representative may go to the Ministry and view the list, or they may visit orphanages directly and identify a child. Once they identify a child, they must verify his/her status by reviewing the list.
Once the child has been identified, the prospective parents or their representative must submit their documents to the municipality in which the child resides. Once those documents are received, a court date is set. Please see Documents Required in #5 of this section.
Prospective adoptive parents and the child (if over 14) must be present for court proceedings.
4. Apply for the Child to be Found Eligible for Adoption
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 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 Armenia’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.
Adoptive parents and the child, if over 14, must be present for court proceedings. The court may request the presence of biological parents, orphanage representatives, or the child if the child is over the age of 10. The court proceedings are closed to the public.
Cases may be rejected on the basis of incomplete or fraudulent paperwork, among other issues addressed in Armenian law. Prospective adoptive parents may be disqualified based on mental disease, drug addiction, alcoholism, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, or other infectious diseases.
If any party wishes to cancel the adoption proceedings, that request will be adjudicated by the regular dispute court in Armenia.
5. Adopt the Child (or Gain Legal Custody) in Armenia
Remember: Before you adopt (or gain legal custody of) a child in Armenia, 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 Armenia.
The process for finalizing the adoption (or gaining legal custody) in Armenia generally includes the following:
- Role of The Adoption Authority: The National Adoption Committee reviews the prospective adoptive parents’ registration documents and issues a conclusion on the ability to adopt.
- Role of The Court: Once the child has been identified and the remaining documents are submitted, a court date is set. During the hearing, the judge makes decisions on any requests to change the child’s name, birth date, etc. After the hearing, the court will issue a preliminary decision and 30 days later the Government registers the final court decision.
If any party wishes to cancel the adoption proceedings, that request will be adjudicated by the regular dispute court in Armenia.
- Role of Adoption Agencies: Armenian law does not recognize the involvement of professional facilitators, adoption agencies, or attorneys. 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. Some U.S. adoption agencies have contacts with experienced local individuals who can be given power of attorney.
- Time Frame: From start to finish, an adoption timeframe of one to two years is common. Once approval to adopt has been granted, it can take up to six months to identify a child and several more months to secure the proper paperwork from the different Government agencies to support an application to adopt that particular child.
- Adoption Application: The prospective adoptive parents submit the adoption application to the National Adoption Committee.
- Adoption Fee: The official fees necessary to procure the documents needed in support of the adoption are approximately $65 USD. The practice of charging official and unofficial expediting fees varies depending on the particular Government agency or local office. In addition, the attorneys or other individuals assisting the prospective adoptive parents with the adoption may charge fees for services rendered.
In the adoption services contract that you sign at the beginning of the adoption process, your agency will itemize the fees and estimated expenses related to your adoption process. Learn more.
- Documents Required: Please note that fraud is pervasive in Armenia. Fabricated documents or real documents fraudulently obtained are readily available. As a result, the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan must carefully investigate all visa cases. In adoptions it must be clearly determined whether the child meets the requirements under U.S. immigration law. The need for investigation may delay the issuance of the visa for the adopted child to travel to the United States. Cases deemed not clearly approvable by the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan will be referred to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in Moscow for review.
The following is a list of documents required to request registration as prospective adoptive parents:
- Copy of the prospective adoptive parents’ U.S. passports
- USCIS approval (either of the Form I-600A in a transition case or the Form I-800A in a new case)
- Copy of certificate of home study, including a description of the family and the home where the adopted child will reside
- Work verification letters indicating position, salary, and three letters of reference
- Tax return for the most recent tax year
- Copy of marriage certificate, if applicable
- Copy of divorce decree, or spouse’s death certificate, if applicable
- Spousal consent (if only one spouse is legally adopting the child)
- Medical evaluation report confirming that the prospective adoptive parent(s) do not suffer from any type of psychological condition, alcoholism or drug abuse, HIV AIDS or other STD, active tuberculosis or other infectious diseases
- Local police check for prospective adoptive parents
- Power of Attorney if documents will be submitted through an authorized representative
- The following is a list of documents that must be submitted to the regional court presiding over the child’s district:
- Full names of the prospective adoptive parent(s) and child
- Notification of prospective adoptive parents’ plans to change the child’s name, date or place of birth, or to list themselves as parents on new documents
- Prospective adoptive parents’ passports or other identification
- Prospective adoptive parents’ marriage certificate, if applicable
- Spousal consent (if married and only one spouse is legally adopting the child)
- Child’s consent if the child is over 10 years of age
- Child’s birth certificate and medical records
- Statement of child’s centralized registration from the Ministry of Social Security
- Written consent of adoptive parents, birth parents, and the orphanage. If applicable, death certificates of birth parents and consent of biological grandparents if the biological parents are not legal adults.
- Government approval of prospective adoptive parents
Note: Additional documents may be requested. If you are asked to provide proof that a document from the United States is authentic, we can help. Learn how.
6. Bringing 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 several 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.
Adoptive parents may obtain the child’s new birth certificate at the local registration office (ZAGS) of the child’s municipality.
Your child is not yet a U.S. citizen, so he/she will need a travel document or Passport from Armenia.
Adoptive parents must visit the Armenian passport agency, the OVIR, to obtain an Armenian passport for the child. The child must have a passport before the visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.
Also, before the adoptive parents depart Armenia with their new son or daughter, they must visit the Notarial Office of the Ministry of Justice to get all of the new documents certified with an apostille. This is required for departing the country.
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. Learn more.
Adoptive parents must schedule an appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan to file the I-600 (in transition cases), have an orphan investigation interview, and to apply for an immigrant visa. NOTE: In new cases, adoptive parents must file the I-800 with USCIS BEFORE the adoption is final. In some cases further investigation may be required to determine whether the adopted child meets the definition of orphan under U.S. law. Parents should not make final, non-refundable travel plans for return to the United States until they have their child's immigrant visa in hand.
Adoptive parents should come to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Yerevan, with all the necessary paperwork, to schedule an interview. Parents can visit the U.S. Embassy between 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Armenian and American holidays. The Embassy tries to accommodate all parents as quickly as possible, but please note that the orphan investigation may take several days. Please contact the Consular Section upon arrival in country to inform the staff of your time-table and to raise any questions or concerns.
A consular officer is required to review each adoption case carefully and make an independent determination of the child's eligibility for a visa. In all cases, the child must be present at the Embassy for the I-604 investigation interview.
In addition to the complete adoption file presented for the I-600 (or to USCIS for the I-800), you will also need the following:
- A medical exam completed by a designated panel physician*;
- The child's Armenian passport;
- Two identical full face photographs measuring 2"X2";
- $400 for visa application and issuance fees (payable in cash only -- U.S. dollars or Armenian dram).
- DS-230 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration) filled out from the point of view of the child, but not signed.
*The Panel Physician's examination is designed to comply with specific visa regulations, and is not intended to be a fully inclusive physical examination. If adoptive parents wish to consult a pediatrician for a more complete physical exam, or for any health problems, the Embassy can provide a current list of doctors and sources for medicine.
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 embassy before making final travel arrangements.
Child Citizenship Act
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.
Applying for Your U.S. Passport
A valid U.S. passport is required to enter and leave Armenia. 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.
Obtaining Your Visa
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 Armenia, see the Department of State’s Country Specific Information.
Staying Safe on Your Trip
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.
Staying in Touch on Your Trip
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 Armenia, registration assists the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in reaching you.
Registration is free and can be done online.
What does Armenia require of the adoptive parents after the adoption?
According to Armenian law, there are no post-adoption requirements for intercountry adoptions.
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: