Adoption Information: Nepal
On Aug. 6, 2010, the U. S. Department of State and USCIS jointly suspended processing of new Forms I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and related visa issuances filed on behalf of Nepalese children reported as found abandoned because documents presented in support of the abandonment of children in Nepal have proven unreliable. The joint suspension currently remains in effect.
On Jan. 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)).
The U.S. government is currently adjudicating intercountry adoption petitions filed on behalf of Nepalese children who have been relinquished by a known birth parent or parents 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.
For more information about adoptions from Nepal, please see the Department of State’s website.
Suspension of Form I-600 Petitions Filed on Behalf of Nepalese Children Reported as Found Abandoned
In early August 2010, a joint assessment team from the U.S. Department of State and USCIS traveled 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 suspension was enacted because the U.S. government could no longer reasonably determine whether a child documented as abandoned qualified as an “orphan” under U.S. immigration law because the documents in Nepalese abandonment cases were unreliable and often could not be verified with Nepalese officials.
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). All of the adoption cases in process at the time of the 2010 suspension were processed to conclusion.
For more information about the joint suspension, please see the U.S. government's joint statement.
The 2010 U.S. Government Suspension Continues to Remain in Effect
In November 2014, a joint USCIS and Department of State delegation traveled to Nepal to learn more about the Government of Nepal’s current child welfare system and adoption procedures. The delegation also demonstrated the U.S. government’s support for Nepal’s efforts to seek permanent solutions for children in need of families, and safeguard the integrity of intercountry adoptions. Over the four-day visit, the delegation met with government officials, representatives of foreign governments and various non-governmental organizations. The trip was a valuable opportunity for the U.S. government to learn more about current issues related to child welfare in Nepal and was an important step in identifying potential actions that could be taken to address the concerns that led to the suspension. The U.S. government still has concerns about the lack of necessary infrastructure to provide adequate protections in an intercountry adoption process in 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.
USCIS and the U.S. Department of State continue to strongly recommend that prospective adoptive parents refrain from adopting children from Nepal due to serious 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.
Form I-600 Petitions Filed on Behalf of Nepalese Children Reported as Found Abandoned in a Hospital
Generally, children reported as found abandoned at a Nepal hospital would fall within the scope of the U.S. suspension of adjudication of abandonment based adoption petitions in Nepal.
We recognize that the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW) of the Government of Nepal has stated that street children (“foundlings”) or children found in the streets are not eligible for intercountry adoption, and that this ban by MoWCSW does not extend to children reported to be abandoned in hospitals.
While children reported to be found abandoned at a hospital are not within the scope of the MoWCSW ban, these cases are within the scope of the U.S. abandonment suspension on the adjudication of adoption petitions for children in Nepal reported as having been found abandoned, unless a birth parent can be identified and proper relinquishment procedures have been followed.
Nepalese hospitals currently do not have mechanisms in place to verify the true identity of a baby’s parent(s) during the hospital admission process. Under Nepali law, birth parents cannot relinquish a child directly to the hospital. Therefore, children reported to be found abandoned at Nepali hospitals generally would not be eligible for U.S. intercountry adoption processing at this time because the origin of these children is uncertain, and the identity of the birth parents cannot be sufficiently ascertained.
Processing Form I-600 Petition Filed on Behalf of a Nepalese Child
We are responsible for the adjudication of Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. In locations abroad like Nepal where we do not have an office, we have 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 abroad 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.
Due to the concerns regarding the reliability of Nepal's adoption system, relinquishment cases received by the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu will require thorough investigations, which may include birth parent interviews and DNA testing. We 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.
There are special filing instructions in place for adoption petitions under the orphan system involving Nepali orphans. For more information, please see Special Instructions for How and When to File Adoption Petitions on Behalf of Nepali Children.
Filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on Behalf of an Adopted Nepalese Child
Despite the suspension of processing new Form I-600 petitions filed on behalf of Nepalese children reported as found abandoned, applicants can still file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of any Nepalese child who has been adopted. We may still be able to process a Form I-130 in these particular cases even when the child was claimed to have been found abandoned.
This is because Form I-130 petition processing does not require that a child adopted in another country meet the definition of an “orphan” under U.S. immigration law. Instead, the child must meet the definition of an “adopted child.” See Immigration and Nationality Act Section 101(b)(1)(E).
For more information about Form I-130 processing, please visit the Form I-130 processing Web page.
Children Affected by the Earthquake in Nepal
We recognize that many U.S. citizens wish to help and adopt Nepali children affected by the earthquake in April 2015.
Adoption by a U.S. citizen, by itself, does not make the child a U.S. citizen or immediately eligible to immigrate to the United States.
Before a child may immigrate to the United States immediately as a result of an intercountry adoption or proposed intercountry adoption, we must determine:
- Whether the child qualifies as an “orphan” under the immigration laws of the United States, and
- That the adoptive parents are capable of providing proper care.
The proper authorities in the child’s country of origin must also determine whether the child can be legally adopted under the country’s laws. We consider specific facts in each case to make a determination.
It is not uncommon in an emergency for children to be temporarily separated from their parents, other family members or legal guardians. Efforts to reunite such children with family or legal guardians must be given priority.
You can also visit the Department of State's Intercountry Adoption Web page on Nepal for information on how to provide support to Nepali children in this time of crisis.