Adoption Information: Nepal
The U.S. Government is currently adjudicating intercountry adoption petitions filed on behalf of Nepali children who have been relinquished by a known birth parent(s) whose identity and relationship can be confirmed. The U.S. Government is not adjudicating adoption petitions filed for Nepali children who are described as having been abandoned. On August 6, 2010, the U. S. Department of State and U. S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) suspended processing of new adoption cases from Nepal involving children claimed to have been found abandoned because documents presented in support of the abandonment of children in Nepal have proven unreliable.
USCIS and the U.S. Department of State continue to strongly recommend that prospective adoptive parents refrain from adopting children from Nepal due to grave concerns about the reliability of Nepal’s adoption system. We also strongly urge adoption service providers not to accept new applications for adoption from Nepal.
The U.S. Government continues to encourage the Government of Nepal to work with the international community, including the Permanent Bureau of the Hague Conference on Private International Law, to implement the Hague Adoption Convention and reform its adoption process to protect children and families.
There are special filing instructions in place for adoption petitions under the orphan system involving Nepali orphans. For more information, please see the page called “Special Instructions for How and When to File Adoption Petitions on Behalf of Nepali Children.”
USCIS and Department of State Roles
USCIS is responsible for the adjudication of the Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. In overseas locations where USCIS does not have an office, such as Nepal, USCIS has delegated limited authority to Department of State consular officers at U.S. embassies and consulates to accept in-country filings of Forms I-600 in certain circumstances and to approve petitions that are clearly approvable. Form I-600 petitions found by the consular officers to be “not clearly approvable” are then forwarded to the USCIS office overseas with jurisdiction over that location for adjudication. The USCIS office in New Delhi, India, has jurisdiction over petitions filed with the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu, Nepal.
On August 6, 2010, the Department of State and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services jointly decided to suspend adjudication of new adoption petitions and related visa issuances for children who purportedly were abandoned in Nepal.
In early August 2010, a joint assessment team from the U.S. Department of State and USCIS travelled to Nepal and performed a detailed analysis of the evidence being presented to document the abandonment of children in Nepal. The team found that information presented in support of orphan petitions included vague and self-contradictory testimony and documents. Local officials were often uncooperative or appeared to purposefully mislead or deter investigations. The U.S. Government committed to complete the processing of the 65 cases where U.S. families had received an official referral of a Nepali child before the announcement of the suspension (these cases are referred to as “pipeline” cases).
On January 5, 2011, Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare announced that children found by the police and considered abandoned will not be available for intercountry adoption until further notice.
In January 2012, Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare announced on its website that there may be children who could be considered eligible for intercountry adoption by the Government of Nepal as relinquishment cases (meaning that the children had become orphans by virtue of having been relinquished by their birth parent(s)). Due to the concerns regarding the reliability of Nepal's adoption system, any future relinquishment cases received by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will require thorough investigations, which may include birth parent interviews and DNA testing. USCIS cannot estimate the time any investigations may take to complete. Prospective adoptive parents should be aware that investigations may require significant time and would likely result in an increased financial burden.