Special Instructions for How and Where to File Adoption Petitions on Behalf of Nepali Children
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, or Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed on behalf of Nepali children, you still may not be able to complete the adoption process in Nepal.
Reason for Special Procedures
On Aug. 27, 2010, USCIS announced that DOS consular officers at the U.S. Embassy in Nepal will conduct initial screening and adjudicate any clearly approvable Form I-600 filed on behalf of Nepali children residing in Nepal whose case is not affected by the suspension of processing announced Aug. 6, 2010. Due to significant concerns about unreliable documents, irregularities in the methods used to identify available for adoption in Nepal, and the resulting difficulties in classifying those children as orphans under U.S. immigration law, USCIS and DOS have created special procedures for filing. For more information, please see the August 6, 2010, announcement regarding the suspension on processing of new abandonment cases. USCIS strongly encourages prospective adoptive parents (PAPs) to follow the special procedures in order to avoid potentially difficult complications.
Special Filing Procedures
PAPs may only file a Form I-600 petition on behalf of a Nepali child who was relinquished by known parent(s) whose identity and relationship to the children can be confirmed. Note: The U.S. government is not adjudicating petitions filed on behalf of a Nepali child claimed to have been abandoned. See USCIS Nepal adoption pages as well as additional information about the orphan process, including who may file a Form I-600 Petition.
USCIS and DOS centralized the initial processing of Form I-600 petitions in with the U.S. Embassy in Nepal and will accept early filings for pre-screening. USCIS recommends contacting the U.S. Embassy in Nepal for information on how to file the Form I-600 with the embassy. The U.S. Embassy in Nepal will send PAPs a notice of receipt once it receives Form I-600 petition and supporting evidence.
If USCIS receives a Form I-600 petition filed domestically at its National Benefits Center (NBC) on behalf of a Nepali child, USCIS will accept the filing but will immediately forward the petition to the U.S. Embassy in Nepal for further processing.
To protect the interests of PAPs involved in a case not affected by the suspension, the U.S. Government strongly encourages those parents to file their completed Form I-600 petition with the U.S. Embassy in Nepal or the NBC before traveling to Nepal to finalize the adoption or obtain a grant of legal custody. After filing the petition, a consular officer at the embassy will then complete the required Form I-604, Determination on Child for Adoption (referred to as the "orphan determination"), before the adoption is completed and will inform the PAPs of the results. Following this procedure will protect the interests of the PAPs and the child to be adopted by placing the U.S, Government's determination of the child's likely eligibility to immigrate to the United Sates before the completion of Nepal's adoption process.
If a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy completes a favorable orphan determination, the U.S. Embassy in Nepal will notify the PAPs and advise them to travel to Nepal to proceed with the adoption. After the adoption, the adoptive parents should provide the U.S. Embassy in Nepal with the original adoption decree and the adoptive child’s Nepali travel document so that the embassy can complete the approval of the Form I-600 petition and initiate immigrant visa processing.
If, upon completing the orphan determination, a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy in Nepal is unable to determine that the child meets the definition of an orphan under U.S. immigration law, the embassy will forward the petition along with the findings of the orphan investigation to the USCIS NBC for further review and action. The U.S. government will provide the results of the Form I-600 petition in writing.
Filing a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on Behalf of an Adopted Nepali Child
The suspension of processing adoption cases involving Nepali children claimed to have been found abandoned does not affect the ability of the adoptive parent of a Nepali child to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. Form I-130 processing may be possible in these cases even when the child was claimed to have been found abandoned.
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 additional information on the requirements for an "adopted child," see Other Adoption-Related Immigration.
For additional information about the adoption process in Nepal see the DOS website adoption.state.gov.