Adoption Information: Nepal
As of Jan. 10, 2020, according to the Department of State (DOS), Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens MoWCSC (formerly the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare) indicates that all adoptions from Nepal may be on hold for the foreseeable future. See the DOS country information page for Nepal.
While USCIS may accept and adjudicate Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, filed on behalf of Nepali children who have been relinquished by known birth parents whose identity and relationship can be confirmed, you still may not be able to complete the adoption process in Nepal. The U.S. government is not adjudicating Form I-600 petitions filed for Nepali children who are described as having been abandoned.
On Aug.6, 2010, the DOS and USCIS jointly suspended processing of new Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative, and related visa issuances filed on behalf of Nepali 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.
In early August 2010, a joint assessment team from the DOS 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 Nepali abandonment cases were unreliable and often could not be verified with Nepali 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.
On of Jan. 5, 2011, Nepal’s Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare (MoWCSW), currently the Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens, announced that children found by the police and considered abandoned will not be available for intercountry adoption until further notice.
In of January 2012, MoWCSW 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 the children had become orphans by virtue of having been relinquished by their birth parents).
In November 2014, a joint USCIS and DOS 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 DOS 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.
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 MoWCSW 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.
Nepali hospitals currently do not have mechanisms in place to verify the true identity of a baby’s parents 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.
We are responsible for the adjudication of Form I-600, Petition to Classify Orphan as an Immediate Relative. We have delegated limited authority to DOS 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 filed with the U.S. Embassy in Nepal, found by the consular officers to be “not clearly approvable” are then forwarded to the USCIS National Benefits Center (NBC).
Due to concerns regarding the reliability of Nepal's adoption system, relinquishment cases received by the U.S. Embassy in Nepal will require thorough investigation, which may include birth parent interviews and DNA testing. We cannot estimate the time any investigation 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 Where to File Adoption Petitions on Behalf of Nepali Children.
Despite the suspension of processing new Form I-600 petitions filed on behalf of Nepali children reported as found abandoned, applicants can still file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of any Nepali 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 webpage.
Again, while USCIS or DOS (in certain circumstances) may accept and process Form I-130 petitions filed on behalf of Nepali children, you may not be able to complete an adoption in Nepal. See the DOS country information page for Nepal for additional information.